Changes in Ecosystem Carbon Stocks from the Conversion of Disturbed Forest to Oil Palm Plantation in the Peruvian Amazon
Land use, land use change and forestry in Peru is the main contributing sector to national GHG emissions (51%). While Peru has pledged to reduce GHG emissions, oil palm plantations are currently under expansion in the Amazon at the risk of forest conversion. The study aimed to characterize the structure and composition of remnant disturbed forests adjacent to oil palm plantations in the Peruvian Amazon, to determine the carbon stock change from such transition.
The research was based on full inventories performed in four disturbed forest and six oil palm stands. The latter ones using a space-for-time substitution approach (stand ages 1,4,7,15,23, 28) to assess the carbon stock change over a rotation period. All carbon pools were measured and compared over the land use transition. Previous forest practices linked to logging activities showed a negative effect in composition and structural parameters of the forest, e.g. the mean basal area was 22 (SE 1.4) m2 ha -1. Overall, converting disturbed forests to oil palm plantations resulted in a carbon debt scenario; the carbon stock changed from 140.7 (SE 5.8) Mg C ha-1 in forests to a time-averaged carbon stock of 74.3 (SE 2.2) Mg C ha-1 in oil palm plantations. Above ground carbon was the main contributing pool; followed by soil organic carbon and necromass.
This research contributes to the sustainable management of forest landscapes under a climate smart strategy, as it concludes, in terms of carbon footprint, that disturbed forests should be excluded from the conversion to oil palm production.