High aboveground carbon stock of African tropical montane forests

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Cuni-Sanchez, A., Sullivan, M., Platts, P., Lewis, S., Marchant, R., Imani, G., Hubau, W., Abiem, I., Adhikari, H., Albrecht, T., Altman, J., Amani, C., Aneseyee, A., Avitabile, V., Banin, L., Batumike, R., Bauters, M., Beeckman, H., Begne, S., Bennett, A., Bitariho, R., Boeckx, P., Bogaert, J., Bräuning, A., Bulonvu. F., Burgess, N., Calders, K., Chapman, C., Chapman, H., Comiskey, J., de Haulleville, T., Decuyper, M., DeVries, B., Dolezal, J., Droissart, V., Ewango, C., Feyera, S., Gebrekristos, A., Gereau, R., Gilpin, M., Hakizimana, D., Hall, J., Hamilton, A., Hardy, O., Hart, T., Heiskanen, J., Hemp, A., Herold, M., Hiltner, U., Kamdem, M-N., Kayijamahe, C., Kenfack, D., Kinyanjui, M., Klein, J., Lisingo, J., Lovett, J., Lung, M., Makana, J-R., Malhi, Y., Marshall, A., Martin, E., Mitchard, E., Morel, A., Tshibamba Mukendi, J., Timberlake, J., Nchu, F., Nyirambangutse, B., Okello, J., Peh, K., Petri, P., Phillips, O., Plumptre, A., Qie, L., Rovero, F., Sainge, M., Schmitt, C., Sedlacek, O., Ngute, A., Sheil, D., Sheleme, D., Simegn, T., Simo-Droissart, M., Sonke, B., Soromessa, T., Sunderland, T., Svoboda, M., Taedoumg, H., Taplin, J., Taylor, D., Thomas, S., Tuagben, D., Umunay, P., Uzabaho, E., Verbeeck, H., Vleminckx, J., Wallin, G., Wheeler, C., Willcock, S., Woods, J., Zibera, E. and Horak, D. 2021. High aboveground carbon stock of African tropical montane forests. Nature. 596, pp. 536-542. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03728-4

AuthorsCuni-Sanchez, A., Sullivan, M., Platts, P., Lewis, S., Marchant, R., Imani, G., Hubau, W., Abiem, I., Adhikari, H., Albrecht, T., Altman, J., Amani, C., Aneseyee, A., Avitabile, V., Banin, L., Batumike, R., Bauters, M., Beeckman, H., Begne, S., Bennett, A., Bitariho, R., Boeckx, P., Bogaert, J., Bräuning, A., Bulonvu. F., Burgess, N., Calders, K., Chapman, C., Chapman, H., Comiskey, J., de Haulleville, T., Decuyper, M., DeVries, B., Dolezal, J., Droissart, V., Ewango, C., Feyera, S., Gebrekristos, A., Gereau, R., Gilpin, M., Hakizimana, D., Hall, J., Hamilton, A., Hardy, O., Hart, T., Heiskanen, J., Hemp, A., Herold, M., Hiltner, U., Kamdem, M-N., Kayijamahe, C., Kenfack, D., Kinyanjui, M., Klein, J., Lisingo, J., Lovett, J., Lung, M., Makana, J-R., Malhi, Y., Marshall, A., Martin, E., Mitchard, E., Morel, A., Tshibamba Mukendi, J., Timberlake, J., Nchu, F., Nyirambangutse, B., Okello, J., Peh, K., Petri, P., Phillips, O., Plumptre, A., Qie, L., Rovero, F., Sainge, M., Schmitt, C., Sedlacek, O., Ngute, A., Sheil, D., Sheleme, D., Simegn, T., Simo-Droissart, M., Sonke, B., Soromessa, T., Sunderland, T., Svoboda, M., Taedoumg, H., Taplin, J., Taylor, D., Thomas, S., Tuagben, D., Umunay, P., Uzabaho, E., Verbeeck, H., Vleminckx, J., Wallin, G., Wheeler, C., Willcock, S., Woods, J., Zibera, E. and Horak, D.
Abstract

Variation in aboveground live tree biomass carbon (AGC) stocks is poorly understood in tropical montane forests1, especially in African nations where montane forests often represent most of the extant evergreen old-growth forest cover. Although data are few, since primary productivity is temperature-mediated and cloud immersion, wind and steep slopes constrain tree height2, AGC is widely assumed to be lower in tropical montane than lowland forests. To test this, we assembled and analysed a new dataset of structurally intact old-growth forests (“AfriMont”) spanning 44 montane sites in 12 African countries, and compared findings with old-growth lowland forests in the African Tropical Rainforest Observation Network (AfriTRON). We find that montane sites in the AfriMont plot network have a mean AGC-stock of 149.4 Mg C ha-1 (95% CI 137.1-164.2), comparable to lowland forests in the AfriTRON plot network and higher than averages from plot networks in montane and lowland forests in the Neotropics. Notably, our results are substantially higher than the IPCC default values for these forests in Africa (89.3 Mg C ha-1)3. The distinctive structure of African lowland forests (low stem density and high abundance of large trees4-6) is mirrored in montane forests. This important carbon store is endangered, we find that 0.8 million ha of old-growth African montane forest have been lost since 2000. Our findings highlight the urgent need for conserving these biodiverse7,8 and carbon-rich ecosystems. We provide country-specific montane forest AGC estimates modelled from our plot network to help guide forest conservation and reforestation interventions.

KeywordsEarth and environmental sciences; Biogeochemistry; Carbon cycle; Ecology; Ecosystem services; Forest ecology
Year of Publication2021
JournalNature
Journal citation596, pp. 536-542
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03728-4
Web address (URL)https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03728-4
Open accessPublished as green open access
FunderMarie Sklodowska-Curie Actions
Rufford Foundation
Royal Society-Leverhulme Trust
Funder project or codeIntra-European Fellowships (number 328075)
Global Fellowships (number 74356)
National Geographic Explorer (NGS-53344R-18)
Czech Science Foundation (no. 21-17125S)
Rufford Small Grant Foundation (16712-B, 19476-D)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (BIODEV project)
the Academy of Finland (number 318645)
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
the Strategic Research Area Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Climate
the German Research Foundation (DFG)
Gatsby Plants, Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada
International Development Research Centre of Canada
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online25 Aug 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted14 Jun 2021
Submitted11 May 2021
PublisherNature Publishing Group
ISSN0028-0836

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