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      Quantifying and understanding carbon storage and sequestration within the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania, a tropical biodiversity hotspot


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          The carbon stored in vegetation varies across tropical landscapes due to a complex mix of climatic and edaphic variables, as well as direct human interventions such as deforestation and forest degradation. Mapping and monitoring this variation is essential if policy developments such as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) are to be known to have succeeded or failed.


          We produce a map of carbon storage across the watershed of the Tanzanian Eastern Arc Mountains (33.9 million ha) using 1,611 forest inventory plots, and correlations with associated climate, soil and disturbance data. As expected, tropical forest stores more carbon per hectare (182 Mg C ha -1) than woody savanna (51 Mg C ha -1). However, woody savanna is the largest aggregate carbon store, with 0.49 Pg C over 9.6 million ha. We estimate the whole landscape stores 1.3 Pg C, significantly higher than most previous estimates for the region. The 95% Confidence Interval for this method (0.9 to 3.2 Pg C) is larger than simpler look-up table methods (1.5 to 1.6 Pg C), suggesting simpler methods may underestimate uncertainty. Using a small number of inventory plots with two censuses ( n = 43) to assess changes in carbon storage, and applying the same mapping procedures, we found that carbon storage in the tree-dominated ecosystems has decreased, though not significantly, at a mean rate of 1.47 Mg C ha -1 yr -1 (c. 2% of the stocks of carbon per year).


          The most influential variables on carbon storage in the region are anthropogenic, particularly historical logging, as noted by the largest coefficient of explanatory variable on the response variable. Of the non-anthropogenic factors, a negative correlation with air temperature and a positive correlation with water availability dominate, having smaller p-values than historical logging but also smaller influence. High carbon storage is typically found far from the commercial capital, in locations with a low monthly temperature range, without a strong dry season, and in areas that have not suffered from historical logging. The results imply that policy interventions could retain carbon stored in vegetation and likely successfully slow or reverse carbon emissions.

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          Most cited references133

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          Conservationists are far from able to assist all species under threat, if only for lack of funding. This places a premium on priorities: how can we support the most species at the least cost? One way is to identify 'biodiversity hotspots' where exceptional concentrations of endemic species are undergoing exceptional loss of habitat. As many as 44% of all species of vascular plants and 35% of all species in four vertebrate groups are confined to 25 hotspots comprising only 1.4% of the land surface of the Earth. This opens the way for a 'silver bullet' strategy on the part of conservation planners, focusing on these hotspots in proportion to their share of the world's species at risk.
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                Author and article information

                Carbon Balance Manag
                Carbon Balance Manag
                Carbon Balance and Management
                BioMed Central
                28 April 2014
                : 9
                : 2
                [1 ]School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
                [2 ]School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
                [3 ]Environment Department, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK
                [4 ]Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
                [5 ]WWF US, Washington, USA
                [6 ]UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge CB3 0DL, UK
                [7 ]Genetics and Conservation, Royal Botantic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
                [8 ]Tanzanian Forest Conservation Group, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
                [9 ]Frankfurt Zoological Society, Frankfurt D-60316, Germany
                [10 ]The Society for Environmental Exploration, London EC2A 3QP, UK
                [11 ]STEP Program, Princeton University, Princeton 08544, USA
                [12 ]Department of Geography, University of Florida, PO Box 117315, Gainesville, Florida, FL 32611, USA
                [13 ]The University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
                [14 ]Centre for the Integration of Research, Conservation and Learning, Flamingo Land Ltd, Malton YO 17 6UX, UK
                [15 ]Sokoine University of Agriculture, PO Box 3001, Morogoro, Tanzania
                [16 ]EDGE of Existence, Conservation Programmes, Zoological Society of London, London, UK
                [17 ]Department of Geography, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 2DF, UK
                [18 ]Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus C DK-8000, Denmark
                [19 ]Department of Geography, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
                Copyright © 2014 Willcock et al.; licensee Springer.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.


                Environmental change
                eastern arc mountains,tanzania,ipcc tier 3,redd+,forest,disturbance,degradation,ecosystem service


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