The carbon sequestration potential of degraded agricultural land in the Amhara region of Ethiopia

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Forests are a key player within the global carbon cycle and reforestation is an important climate change mitigation mechanism. In this study, we identify potentially suitable areas for reforestation to assess the carbon sequestration potential in the highly deforested and degraded Amhara region of Ethiopia. We apply biogeochemical mechanistic ecosystem modelling to predict the amount of carbon that can be potentially sequestered within different time horizons. Since human intervention plays a key role within the Amhara region, three different forest management scenarios and five different rotation periods following reforestation are tested: (i) unthinned; (ii) removal of 5% of the stem carbon every 20 years (thinning 1); and (iii) removal of 10% stem carbon every 20 years (thinning 2), as well as a rotation period of 10, 30, 50, 100, and 150 years. Sustainable management of reforested land is addressed by implementing the so called 'Normal-forest' system (equal representation of every age class). This ensures the long term sequestration effect of reforested areas. The study shows that 3.4 Mha (Mha = Million hectare) of land, including bare land (0.7 Mha), grass land (1.2 Mha), and shrub land (1.5 Mha) can be considered as ecologically potentially suitable for reforestation. Assuming a 100 year rotation period in a 'Normal-forest' system, this shows that a total net carbon sequestration potential of 177 Tg C (10.8 Tg C in the soil and 165.9 Tg C aboveground; Teragram = 1012 g) is possible, if all 3.4 Mha are replanted. The highest total net carbon sequestration (soil and aboveground) was evident for the Highland-wet agro-ecological zone, whereas the lowest values are typically in the Midland-dry zone. The highest net aboveground carbon sequestration was predicted for reforestations on current grass land and shrub land versus bare land, whereas the highest net soil carbon sequestration was predicted on current bare land, followed by grass land and shrub land.




Belay, B., Pötzelsberger, E., & Hasenauer, H. (2018). The carbon sequestration potential of degraded agricultural land in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. Forests, 9(8).

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