Disentangling how management affects biomass stock and productivity of tropical secondary forests fallows

Moonen, Pieter C.J.; Verbist, Bruno; Boyemba Bosela, Faustin; Norgrove, Lindsey; Dondeyne, Stefaan; Van Meerbeek, Koenraad; Kearsley, Elizabeth; Verbeeck, Hans; Vermeir, Pieter; Boeckx, Pascal; Muys, Bart (2019). Disentangling how management affects biomass stock and productivity of tropical secondary forests fallows Science of The Total Environment, 659, pp. 101-114. Elsevier 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.12.138

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A better understanding of biomass production in secondary forests after cultivation is essential for assessing the resilience of slash and burn systems and their capacity to deliver ecosystem services. Biomass production is influenced by management legacies, landscape configuration and soil, but these drivers are rarely studied simultaneously, nor is the role of changes in vegetation properties in linking them to biomass production. We assessed how management legacies affect biomass in secondary forests created by slash and burn in the central Congo Basin, and tested whether changes in productivity could be attributed to changes in stem density, functional diversity, functional identity or soil. Using data from 6452 trees in 96 fallow plots nested in 3 study sites, we looked for the main determinants of aboveground biomass (AGB) of woody vegetation in fallow systems. Next, using a subset of 58 plots in fallow fields aged 5 to 10 years, we used confirmatory path analysis to explore the relations between management history, soil, vegetation properties and biomass productivity. The sampled fallow fields had, on average, 58.4 (±46.2) Mg ha−1 AGB. AGB was positively related to both fallow age and to the proportion of remnant trees in AGB and negatively related to the number of previous cultivation cycles. Biomass productivity varied with the number of previous slash-and-burn cycles, with notable declines in the fourth cycle. The effect of management history was mainly through a reduction in the dominance of fast growing tree species and in the number of regenerating stems, which were also indirectly affected by an increase in C. odorata cover. Soil fertility status and the biomass of remnant trees also modified biomass productivity. Our findings suggest that under the current management intensity the capacity of the slash and burn system to provide important ecosystem functions, such as carbon sequestration, is declining.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > Resource-efficient agricultural production systems
School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL > HAFL Hugo P. Cecchini Institute

Name:

Moonen, Pieter C.J.;
Verbist, Bruno;
Boyemba Bosela, Faustin;
Norgrove, Lindsey;
Dondeyne, Stefaan;
Van Meerbeek, Koenraad;
Kearsley, Elizabeth;
Verbeeck, Hans;
Vermeir, Pieter;
Boeckx, Pascal and
Muys, Bart

Subjects:

G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QK Botany
S Agriculture > SD Forestry

ISSN:

00489697

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Simon Lutz

Date Deposited:

18 Nov 2019 09:49

Last Modified:

22 Sep 2020 07:23

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.12.138

ARBOR DOI:

10.24451/arbor.9033

URI:

https://arbor.bfh.ch/id/eprint/9033

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