The effect of soil management and land use change are of interest to the sustainable land management for improving the environment and advancing food security in developing countries. Both anthropogenic changes and natural processes affect agriculture primarily by altering soil quality. This paper reviews and synthesizes the available literatures related to the influence of soil management and land use changes on soil carbon (C) stock in Ethiopia. The review shows that topsoil C stock declines approximately 0–63%, 0–23%, and 17–83% upon land use conversion from forest to crop land, to open grazing, and to plantation, respectively. An increase of 1–3% in soil C stock was observed within 10 years of converting open grazed land to protected enclosures. However, there was a little change in soil C stock below 20 cm depth.
There is a large potential of increasing SOC pool with adoption of land restorative measures. Total potential of soil C sequestration with the adoption of restoration measures ranges 0·066–2·2 Tg C y−1 on rain-fed cropland and 4·2–10·5 Tg C y−1 on rangeland. Given large area and diverse ecological conditions in Ethiopia, research data available in published literature are rather scanty. Therefore, researchable priorities identified in this review are important. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.