The impact of land use change and management on soil C sequestration was investigated during the 1980s–1990s on gray forest soils in Pushchino, and on the soddy-podzolic soil in Prioksko-Terrasny Biosphere Reserve, Moscow Region, Russia (54°50N, 37°35E). Mean annual rates of C sequestration after establishment of perennials (layer 0–60 cm) were 63–182 g C m−2 and 22–43 g C m−2 for gray forest and soddy-podzolic soils, respectively. Grassing resulted in higher soil C accumulation than afforestation. Cutting and application of NPK fertilisers increased soil C accumulation, but newly formed soil organic matter was less resistant to decomposition than in unfertilised soil. Preliminary calculations of C sequestration due to abandonment of arable land in Russia since the early 1990s suggest that total C accumulation in soil and the plant biomass could represent about one tenth of industrial CO2 emissions.