Increasing carbon storage in intact African tropical forests

Simon Lewis, Gabriela Lopez-Gonzalez, Bonaventure Sonke, Kofi Affum-Baffoe, Timothy R. Baker, Lucas O. Ojo, Oliver L. Phillips, Jan M. Reitsma, Lee White, James A. Comiskey, Marie-Noel Djuikouo, Corneille E. N. Ewango, Ted R. Feldpausch, Alan C. Hamilton, Manuel Gloor, Terese Hart, Annette Hladik, Jon Lloyd, Jon C. Lovett, Jean-Remy Makana & 13 others Yadvinder Malhi, Frank M. Mbago, Henry J. Ndangalasi, Julie Peacock, Kelvin S.-H. Peh, Douglas Sheil, Terry Sunderland, Michael D. Swaine, James Taplin, David Taylor, Sean C. Thomas, Raymond Votere, Hannsjörg Woll

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Abstract

The response of terrestrial vegetation to a globally changing environment is central to predictions of future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide1, 2. The role of tropical forests is critical because they are carbon-dense and highly productive3, 4. Inventory plots across Amazonia show that old-growth forests have increased in carbon storage over recent decades5, 6, 7, but the response of one-third of the world's tropical forests in Africa8 is largely unknown owing to an absence of spatially extensive observation networks9, 10. Here we report data from a ten-country network of long-term monitoring plots in African tropical forests. We find that across 79 plots (163 ha) above-ground carbon storage in live trees increased by 0.63 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 between 1968 and 2007 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.22–0.94; mean interval, 1987–96). Extrapolation to unmeasured forest components (live roots, small trees, necromass) and scaling to the continent implies a total increase in carbon storage in African tropical forest trees of 0.34 Pg C yr-1 (CI, 0.15–0.43). These reported changes in carbon storage are similar to those reported for Amazonian forests per unit area6, 7, providing evidence that increasing carbon storage in old-growth forests is a pan-tropical phenomenon. Indeed, combining all standardized inventory data from this study and from tropical America and Asia5, 6, 11 together yields a comparable figure of 0.49 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 (n = 156; 562 ha; CI, 0.29–0.66; mean interval, 1987–97). This indicates a carbon sink of 1.3 Pg C yr-1 (CI, 0.8–1.6) across all tropical forests during recent decades. Taxon-specific analyses of African inventory and other data12 suggest that widespread changes in resource availability, such as increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, may be the cause of the increase in carbon stocks13, as some theory14 and models2, 10, 15 predict.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1003-1006
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume457
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2009

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carbon sequestration
tropical forest
confidence interval
old-growth forest
carbon
carbon sink
resource availability
carbon dioxide
vegetation
monitoring
prediction

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Lewis, S., Lopez-Gonzalez, G., Sonke, B., Affum-Baffoe, K., Baker, T. R., Ojo, L. O., ... Woll, H. (2009). Increasing carbon storage in intact African tropical forests. Nature, 457, 1003-1006. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07771

Increasing carbon storage in intact African tropical forests. / Lewis, Simon; Lopez-Gonzalez, Gabriela; Sonke, Bonaventure; Affum-Baffoe, Kofi; Baker, Timothy R.; Ojo, Lucas O.; Phillips, Oliver L. ; Reitsma, Jan M. ; White, Lee; Comiskey, James A.; Djuikouo, Marie-Noel; Ewango, Corneille E. N.; Feldpausch, Ted R.; Hamilton, Alan C. ; Gloor, Manuel ; Hart, Terese ; Hladik, Annette ; Lloyd, Jon; Lovett, Jon C. ; Makana, Jean-Remy ; Malhi, Yadvinder ; Mbago, Frank M. ; Ndangalasi, Henry J. ; Peacock, Julie ; Peh, Kelvin S.-H. ; Sheil, Douglas ; Sunderland, Terry; Swaine, Michael D.; Taplin, James; Taylor, David; Thomas, Sean C. ; Votere, Raymond; Woll, Hannsjörg .

In: Nature, Vol. 457, 19.02.2009, p. 1003-1006.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Lewis, S, Lopez-Gonzalez, G, Sonke, B, Affum-Baffoe, K, Baker, TR, Ojo, LO, Phillips, OL, Reitsma, JM, White, L, Comiskey, JA, Djuikouo, M-N, Ewango, CEN, Feldpausch, TR, Hamilton, AC, Gloor, M, Hart, T, Hladik, A, Lloyd, J, Lovett, JC, Makana, J-R, Malhi, Y, Mbago, FM, Ndangalasi, HJ, Peacock, J, Peh, KS-H, Sheil, D, Sunderland, T, Swaine, MD, Taplin, J, Taylor, D, Thomas, SC, Votere, R & Woll, H 2009, 'Increasing carbon storage in intact African tropical forests', Nature, vol. 457, pp. 1003-1006. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07771
Lewis S, Lopez-Gonzalez G, Sonke B, Affum-Baffoe K, Baker TR, Ojo LO et al. Increasing carbon storage in intact African tropical forests. Nature. 2009 Feb 19;457:1003-1006. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07771
Lewis, Simon ; Lopez-Gonzalez, Gabriela ; Sonke, Bonaventure ; Affum-Baffoe, Kofi ; Baker, Timothy R. ; Ojo, Lucas O. ; Phillips, Oliver L. ; Reitsma, Jan M. ; White, Lee ; Comiskey, James A. ; Djuikouo, Marie-Noel ; Ewango, Corneille E. N. ; Feldpausch, Ted R. ; Hamilton, Alan C. ; Gloor, Manuel ; Hart, Terese ; Hladik, Annette ; Lloyd, Jon ; Lovett, Jon C. ; Makana, Jean-Remy ; Malhi, Yadvinder ; Mbago, Frank M. ; Ndangalasi, Henry J. ; Peacock, Julie ; Peh, Kelvin S.-H. ; Sheil, Douglas ; Sunderland, Terry ; Swaine, Michael D. ; Taplin, James ; Taylor, David ; Thomas, Sean C. ; Votere, Raymond ; Woll, Hannsjörg . / Increasing carbon storage in intact African tropical forests. In: Nature. 2009 ; Vol. 457. pp. 1003-1006.
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title = "Increasing carbon storage in intact African tropical forests",
abstract = "The response of terrestrial vegetation to a globally changing environment is central to predictions of future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide1, 2. The role of tropical forests is critical because they are carbon-dense and highly productive3, 4. Inventory plots across Amazonia show that old-growth forests have increased in carbon storage over recent decades5, 6, 7, but the response of one-third of the world's tropical forests in Africa8 is largely unknown owing to an absence of spatially extensive observation networks9, 10. Here we report data from a ten-country network of long-term monitoring plots in African tropical forests. We find that across 79 plots (163 ha) above-ground carbon storage in live trees increased by 0.63 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 between 1968 and 2007 (95{\%} confidence interval (CI), 0.22–0.94; mean interval, 1987–96). Extrapolation to unmeasured forest components (live roots, small trees, necromass) and scaling to the continent implies a total increase in carbon storage in African tropical forest trees of 0.34 Pg C yr-1 (CI, 0.15–0.43). These reported changes in carbon storage are similar to those reported for Amazonian forests per unit area6, 7, providing evidence that increasing carbon storage in old-growth forests is a pan-tropical phenomenon. Indeed, combining all standardized inventory data from this study and from tropical America and Asia5, 6, 11 together yields a comparable figure of 0.49 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 (n = 156; 562 ha; CI, 0.29–0.66; mean interval, 1987–97). This indicates a carbon sink of 1.3 Pg C yr-1 (CI, 0.8–1.6) across all tropical forests during recent decades. Taxon-specific analyses of African inventory and other data12 suggest that widespread changes in resource availability, such as increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, may be the cause of the increase in carbon stocks13, as some theory14 and models2, 10, 15 predict.",
author = "Simon Lewis and Gabriela Lopez-Gonzalez and Bonaventure Sonke and Kofi Affum-Baffoe and Baker, {Timothy R.} and Ojo, {Lucas O.} and Phillips, {Oliver L.} and Reitsma, {Jan M.} and Lee White and Comiskey, {James A.} and Marie-Noel Djuikouo and Ewango, {Corneille E. N.} and Feldpausch, {Ted R.} and Hamilton, {Alan C.} and Manuel Gloor and Terese Hart and Annette Hladik and Jon Lloyd and Lovett, {Jon C.} and Jean-Remy Makana and Yadvinder Malhi and Mbago, {Frank M.} and Ndangalasi, {Henry J.} and Julie Peacock and Peh, {Kelvin S.-H.} and Douglas Sheil and Terry Sunderland and Swaine, {Michael D.} and James Taplin and David Taylor and Thomas, {Sean C.} and Raymond Votere and Hannsj{\"o}rg Woll",
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T1 - Increasing carbon storage in intact African tropical forests

AU - Lewis, Simon

AU - Lopez-Gonzalez, Gabriela

AU - Sonke, Bonaventure

AU - Affum-Baffoe, Kofi

AU - Baker, Timothy R.

AU - Ojo, Lucas O.

AU - Phillips, Oliver L.

AU - Reitsma, Jan M.

AU - White, Lee

AU - Comiskey, James A.

AU - Djuikouo, Marie-Noel

AU - Ewango, Corneille E. N.

AU - Feldpausch, Ted R.

AU - Hamilton, Alan C.

AU - Gloor, Manuel

AU - Hart, Terese

AU - Hladik, Annette

AU - Lloyd, Jon

AU - Lovett, Jon C.

AU - Makana, Jean-Remy

AU - Malhi, Yadvinder

AU - Mbago, Frank M.

AU - Ndangalasi, Henry J.

AU - Peacock, Julie

AU - Peh, Kelvin S.-H.

AU - Sheil, Douglas

AU - Sunderland, Terry

AU - Swaine, Michael D.

AU - Taplin, James

AU - Taylor, David

AU - Thomas, Sean C.

AU - Votere, Raymond

AU - Woll, Hannsjörg

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N2 - The response of terrestrial vegetation to a globally changing environment is central to predictions of future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide1, 2. The role of tropical forests is critical because they are carbon-dense and highly productive3, 4. Inventory plots across Amazonia show that old-growth forests have increased in carbon storage over recent decades5, 6, 7, but the response of one-third of the world's tropical forests in Africa8 is largely unknown owing to an absence of spatially extensive observation networks9, 10. Here we report data from a ten-country network of long-term monitoring plots in African tropical forests. We find that across 79 plots (163 ha) above-ground carbon storage in live trees increased by 0.63 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 between 1968 and 2007 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.22–0.94; mean interval, 1987–96). Extrapolation to unmeasured forest components (live roots, small trees, necromass) and scaling to the continent implies a total increase in carbon storage in African tropical forest trees of 0.34 Pg C yr-1 (CI, 0.15–0.43). These reported changes in carbon storage are similar to those reported for Amazonian forests per unit area6, 7, providing evidence that increasing carbon storage in old-growth forests is a pan-tropical phenomenon. Indeed, combining all standardized inventory data from this study and from tropical America and Asia5, 6, 11 together yields a comparable figure of 0.49 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 (n = 156; 562 ha; CI, 0.29–0.66; mean interval, 1987–97). This indicates a carbon sink of 1.3 Pg C yr-1 (CI, 0.8–1.6) across all tropical forests during recent decades. Taxon-specific analyses of African inventory and other data12 suggest that widespread changes in resource availability, such as increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, may be the cause of the increase in carbon stocks13, as some theory14 and models2, 10, 15 predict.

AB - The response of terrestrial vegetation to a globally changing environment is central to predictions of future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide1, 2. The role of tropical forests is critical because they are carbon-dense and highly productive3, 4. Inventory plots across Amazonia show that old-growth forests have increased in carbon storage over recent decades5, 6, 7, but the response of one-third of the world's tropical forests in Africa8 is largely unknown owing to an absence of spatially extensive observation networks9, 10. Here we report data from a ten-country network of long-term monitoring plots in African tropical forests. We find that across 79 plots (163 ha) above-ground carbon storage in live trees increased by 0.63 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 between 1968 and 2007 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.22–0.94; mean interval, 1987–96). Extrapolation to unmeasured forest components (live roots, small trees, necromass) and scaling to the continent implies a total increase in carbon storage in African tropical forest trees of 0.34 Pg C yr-1 (CI, 0.15–0.43). These reported changes in carbon storage are similar to those reported for Amazonian forests per unit area6, 7, providing evidence that increasing carbon storage in old-growth forests is a pan-tropical phenomenon. Indeed, combining all standardized inventory data from this study and from tropical America and Asia5, 6, 11 together yields a comparable figure of 0.49 Mg C ha-1 yr-1 (n = 156; 562 ha; CI, 0.29–0.66; mean interval, 1987–97). This indicates a carbon sink of 1.3 Pg C yr-1 (CI, 0.8–1.6) across all tropical forests during recent decades. Taxon-specific analyses of African inventory and other data12 suggest that widespread changes in resource availability, such as increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, may be the cause of the increase in carbon stocks13, as some theory14 and models2, 10, 15 predict.

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