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The potential of oil palm and forest plantations
for carbon sequestration on degraded land in Indonesia
Syahrinudin

ABSTRACT
Terrestrial ecosystems play an important role in regulating the abundance of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Plantations of trees and perennial crops on degraded and marginal lands are an effective way of enhancing the build up of the terrestrial carbon (C) pool. The aim of this study is to quantify the potential of C sequestration through the conversion of Imperata cylindrica grasslands into oil palm and Acacia mangium plantations. Research was conducted in Sumatra and East Kalimantan (Indonesia). Total C stored in the systems (both below- and aboveground) was determined with destructive sampling techniques and the rate of C sequestration estimated with the false-time-series approach. Imperata cylindrica grasslands produce only a relatively small amount of biomass C (5.9-7.6 Mg ha-1) and have shallow roots (maximum depth 1.8 m) and, therefore, only a low level of soil carbon storage can be expected in this system.Biomass and biomass C of both oil palm and A. mangium plantations increase with age to a level much higher than that of I. cylindrica grassland.

carbon sequestration on degraded land

In the oil palm plantations, rates are 84.4 and 76.8 Mg ha-1 5 m-1 in biomass and soil, respectively, while in A. mangium plantations 78.5 and 157.7 Mg C ha-1 5 m-1, respectively, can be achieved. Furthermore, the deep penetration of the roots (to a depth of 5 m) in these plantations promotes a substantial amount of C sequestration in the deeper soils. Soil C storage increases with plantation age to almost twice that of I. cylindrica grassland, suggesting that the establishment of plantations is beneficial not only in terms of C sequestration but also in terms of land rehabilitation.

Although the magnitude of biomass C in the plantations is quite comparable, due to the longer period for the sequestration (plantation cycle of 9 and 30 years for the A. mangium and oil palm plantations, respectively), the rate of C sequestration in the biomass of the oil palm plantation is much lower (3.4 and 9.3 Mg ha-1 yr-1 for the oil palm and A. mangium plantations, respectively). However, there is a significant difference in the soil-C sequestration in these plantations (17.5 and 2.6 Mg ha-1 5 m-1 yr-1 for the A. mangium and oil palm plantations, respectively). Of the C stored in the systems, 81.2 and 76.9% of the total C of the A. mangium and oil palm plantations, respectively, is assigned to the belowground C pool (soil and belowground biomass C) to a depth of 5 m. In I. cylindrica grassland, this value is 98.0%. Regardless of the difference in magnitude and distribution of the C sink, it is evident that oil palm and A. mangium plantations can play an important role in sequestering atmospheric CO2. The conversion of marginal land (mainly I. cylindrica grasslands) into such plantations should thus be encouraged.

Source: Proceedings of Workshop on Carbon Sequestration and Sustainable Livelihoods
Editors :
Daniel Murdiyarso
Hety Herawati

carbon sequestration on degraded land carbon sequestration on degraded land
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