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Forests 2016, 7(3), 57; doi:10.3390/f7030057

Spatial Variation in Tree Density and Estimated Aboveground Carbon Stocks in Southern Africa

1
International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Chitedze Agricultural Research Station, P.O. Box 158, Lilongwe 00265, Malawi
2
5600 Lukanga Rd, Kalundu, Lusaka 10101, Zambia
3
Columbia University, Lamont Campus, 61 Route9W, Lamont Hall, 2G, P.O. Box 1000, Palisades, NY 10964, USA
4
ICRAF West and Central Africa, Sahel Node, BPE 5118 Bamako, Mali
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Sune Linder and Timothy A. Martin
Received: 15 December 2015 / Revised: 3 February 2016 / Accepted: 16 February 2016 / Published: 4 March 2016
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Abstract

Variability in woody plant species, vegetation assemblages and anthropogenic activities derails the efforts to have common approaches for estimating biomass and carbon stocks in Africa. In order to suggest management options, it is important to understand the vegetation dynamics and the major drivers governing the observed conditions. This study uses data from 29 sentinel landscapes (4640 plots) across the southern Africa. We used T-Square distance method to sample trees. Allometric models were used to estimate aboveground tree biomass from which aboveground biomass carbon stock (AGBCS) was derived for each site. Results show average tree density of 502 trees·ha−1 with semi-arid areas having the highest (682 trees·ha−1) and arid regions the lowest (393 trees·ha−1). The overall AGBCS was 56.4 Mg·ha−1. However, significant site to site variability existed across the region. Over 60 fold differences were noted between the lowest AGBCS (2.2 Mg·ha−1) in the Musungwa plains of Zambia and the highest (138.1 Mg·ha−1) in the scrublands of Kenilworth in Zimbabwe. Semi-arid and humid sites had higher carbon stocks than sites in sub-humid and arid regions. Anthropogenic activities also influenced the observed carbon stocks. Repeated measurements would reveal future trends in tree cover and carbon stocks across different systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: biomass; allometry; anthropogenic disturbance; sentinel landscapes; carbon stock; southern Africa biomass; allometry; anthropogenic disturbance; sentinel landscapes; carbon stock; southern Africa
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Tamene, L.; Mponela, P.; Sileshi, G.W.; Chen, J.; Tondoh, J.E. Spatial Variation in Tree Density and Estimated Aboveground Carbon Stocks in Southern Africa. Forests 2016, 7, 57.

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