Center for Sustainable Development Studies

Costa Rica

Center for Sustainable Development Studies

Costa Rica
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Hager A.,Center for Sustainable Development Studies
Agroforestry Systems | Year: 2012

Agroforestry systems can mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, conserve biodiversity and generate income. Whereas the provision of ecosystem services by agroforestry is well documented, the functional relationships between species composition, diversity and carbon (C)-storage remain uncertain. This study aimed to analyze the effects of management (conventional vs. organic), woody plant diversity and plant composition on aboveground and belowground C-storage in coffee agroforestry systems. It was expected that organic farms would store more C, and that an increase in plant diversity would enhance C-storage due to complementarity effects. Additionally, it was expected that steep slopes decrease C-storage as a result of topsoil erosion. Woody plants were identified on 1 ha plots within 14 coffee farms (7 conventional and 7 organic). C-stocks in trees, coffee plants and roots were estimated from allometric equations. C-stocks in litter and topsoil (0-25 cm) were estimated by sampling. On average, farms stored 93 ± 29 Mg C ha -1. Soil organic carbon accounted for 69 % of total C. Total C-stocks were 43 % higher on organic farms than on conventional farms (P < 0.05). Conventional and organic farms differed in vegetation structure, but not in species diversity. It was found that the combined effect of farm type, species richness, species composition and slope explained 83 % of the variation in total C-storage across all farms (P < 0.001). Coffee agroforestry in general and organic farms in particular may contribute to GHG mitigation and biodiversity conservation in a synergistic manner which has implications for the effective allocation of resources for conservation and climate change mitigation strategies in the agricultural sector. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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