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Keywords:

  • Biodiversity hotspot;
  • carbon markets;
  • conservation incentives;
  • corridor network;
  • land use changes

Abstract

Carbon credits are a potential source of funding for restoration initiatives that contribute to achieving conservation targets in important biodiversity areas. Here we investigated whether fallowing sequesters carbon; a first step in assessing the viability of using carbon financing to promote restoration of threatened vegetation in agricultural landscapes. We used renosterveld, a critically endangered shrubland vegetation of the Cape Floristic Region, as a case study. Carbon stocks of soil and biomass in active fields, fallow fields and intact renosterveld were compared. The total carbon stocks measured in fallow fields (82 Mg C ha−1) show that fallowing can sequester carbon lost in the conversion from intact renosterveld (84 Mg C ha−1) to active fields (69 Mg C ha−1) and that revenues of US$ 10 – 48 ha−1 yr−1 from carbon credits could accrue. Our findings suggest that carbon financing could be used to incentivise ecological restoration in marginal agricultural landscapes.