Assessing baseline carbon stocks for forest transitions: A case study of agroforestry restoration from Hawaiʻi
Agriculture 11(3):189, https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture11030189 (2021)
As the extent of secondary forests continues to expand throughout the tropics, there is a growing need to better understand the ecosystem services, including carbon (C) storage provided by these ecosystems. Despite their spatial extent, there are limited data on how the ecosystem services provided by secondary forest may be enhanced through the restoration of both ecological and agroecological functions in these systems. This study quantifies the above- and below-ground C stocks in a non-native secondary forest in Hawaiʻi where a community-based non-profit seeks to restore a multi-strata agroforestry system for cultural and ecological benefits. For soil C, we use the equivalent soil mass method both to estimate stocks and examine spatial heterogeneity at high resolution (eg. sub 5 m) to define a method and sampling design that can be replicated to track changes in C stocks on-site and elsewhere. The assessed total ecosystem C was ~388.5 Mg C/ha. Carbon stock was highest in trees (~192.4 Mg C/ha; ~50% of total C); followed by soil (~136.4 Mg C/ha; ~35% of total C); roots (~52.7 Mg C/ha; ~14% of total C); and was lowest in coarse woody debris (~4.7 Mg C/ha; ~1% of total C) and litter (~2.3 Mg C/ha; <1% of total C). This work provides a baseline carbon assessment prior to agroforest restoration that will help to better quantify the contributions of secondary forest transitions and restoration efforts to state climate policy. In addition to the role of C sequestration in climate mitigation, we also highlight soil C as a critical metric of hybrid, people-centered restoration success given the role of soil organic matter in the production of a suite of on- and off-site ecosystem services closely linked to local sustainable development goals.