Carbon Sequestration in Four Land Use Systems in a Moist Semi Deciduous Ecological Zone of Ghana

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Carbon sequestration potential of four land use systems, namely; Natural forest, Teak plantation, fallow land and cropland were assessed in a moist semi deciduous ecological zone of Ghana. Natural forest data were taken from Bobiri Forest Reserve while data on other land use systems were collected from compound of Forestry Research Institute of Ghana. The main aim of the study was to assess the contribution of four land use systems in ameliorating global warming through reduction of atmospheric carbon and also to assess the change in amount of carbon lost or gained when one land use is converted to another. Out of the six carbon pools of terrestrial ecosystem, carbon sequestration of four (aboveground, litter, herbs and soils) were experimentally assessed and one was extrapolated (belowground) from data of aboveground carbon. Total carbon was highest in natural forest, followed by teak plantation. Fallow land had a marginal increase in total carbon compared to cropland which had the least. Aboveground carbon was highest in natural forest and teak plantation. Fallow land and cropland however had their most carbon in soils. Litter carbon was more appreciable in teak plantation mainly because of broader and much lignified nature of Teak leaves that prevents it from decomposing easily. It was observed that converting natural forest to any of the land use types result in emission of CO2 and reforesting Fallow and Crop lands to teak plantation results in removal of atmospheric carbon (Removal Factor) but conversion of natural forest to teak plantation results in CO2 emissions (Emission Factor). It is concluded that enhancing natural forest to sequester carbon and also cultivation of teak plantation would be more appropriate among the four land use systems when carbon sequestration option is being considered. Fallow lands could be enhanced through improved fallowing rather than resulting to natural fallow. Agroforestry as opposed to slash and burn agriculture is recommended for improved CO2 sequestration. These mitigation options would in the long run, seek to reduce the problem of climate change.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Environmental Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the Award of the Master Of Science Degree in Environmental Science