Carbon sequestration in tropical forests and water: a critical look at the basis for commonly used generalizations

Authors

  • ANDERS MALMER,

    1. Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-901 83 Umeå, Sweden
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  • DANIEL MURDIYARSO,

    1. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), PO Box 6596 JKPWB, Jakarta 10065, Indonesia
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  • L. A. (SAMPURNO) BRUIJNZEEL,

    1. Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • ULRIK ILSTEDT

    1. Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-901 83 Umeå, Sweden
    2. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), PO Box 6596 JKPWB, Jakarta 10065, Indonesia
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Anders Malmer, tel. +46 90 786 8416, fax +46 90 786 8163, e-mail: anders.malmer@sek.slu.se

Abstract

Tree planting in the tropics is conducted for a number of reasons including carbon sequestration, but often competes with increasingly scarce water resources. The basics of forest and water relations are frequently said to be well understood but there is a pressing need to better understand and predict the hydrological effects of land-use and climate change in the complex and dynamic landscapes of the tropics. This will remain elusive without the empirical data required to feed hydrological process models. It is argued that the current state of knowledge is confused by too broad a use of the terms ‘forest’ and ‘(af)forestation’, as well as by a bias towards using data generated mostly outside the tropics and for nondegraded soil conditions. Definitions of forest, afforestation and reforestation as used in the climate change community and their application by land and water managers need to be reconciled.

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