High aboveground carbon stock of African tropical montane forests

Aida Cuni Sanchez, Martin Sullivan, Philip John Platts, Simon L. Lewis, Robert Marchant, Gérard Imani, Wannes Hubau, Iveren Abiem, Hari Adhikari, Tomas Albrecht, Janne Altman, Christian Amani, Abreham B. Aneseyee, Valerio Avitabile, Lindsay Banin, Rodrigue Batumike, Marijn Bauters, Hans Beeckman, Serge K. Begne, Amy C. BennettRobert Bitariho, Pascal Boeckx, Jan Bogaert, Achim Bräuning, Franklin Bulonvu, Neil D. Burgess, Kim Calders, Colin Chapman, Hazel Chapman, James Comiskey, Thales de Haulleville, Mathieu Decuyper, Ben DeVries, Jiri Dolezal, Vincent Droissart, Corneille Ewango, Senbeta Feyera, Aster Gebrekristos, Roy E. Gereau, Martin Gilpin, Dismas Hakizimana, Jefferson Hall, Alan Hamilton, Olivier Hardy, Terese Hart, Janne Heiskanen, Andreas Hemp, Martin Herold, Ulrike Hiltner, David Horak, Marie-Noel Kamdem, Charles Kayijamahe, David Kenfack, Mwangi J. Kinyanjui, Julia Klein, Janvier Lisingo, Jon Lovett, Mark Lung, Jean-Remy Makana, Yadvinder Malhi, Andy Marshall, Emanuel H. Martin, Edward T.A. Mitchard, Alexandra Morel, John T. Mukendi, Tom Muller, Felix Nchu, Brigitte Nyirambangutse, Joseph Okello, Kelvin S. -H. Peh, Petri K. E. Pellikka, Oliver L. Phillips, Andrew Plumptre, Lan Qie, Francesco Rovero, Moses N. Sainge, Christine B. Schmitt, Ondrej Sedlacek, Alain S.K. Ngute, Douglas Sheil, Demisse Sheleme, Tibebu Y. Simegn, Murielle Simo-Droissart, Bonaventure Sonké, Teshome Soromessa, Terry Sunderland, Miroslav Svoboda, Hermann Taedoumg, James Taplin, David Taylor, Sean C. Thomas, Jonathan Timberlake, Darlington Tuagben, Peter Umunay, Eustrate Uzabaho, Hans Verbeeck, Jason Vleminckx, Göran Wallin, Charlotte Wheeler, Simon Willcock, John T. Woods, Etienne Zibera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tropical forests store 40-50% of terrestrial vegetation carbon. Spatial variations in aboveground live tree biomass carbon (AGC) stocks remain poorly understood, in particular in tropical montane forests. Because of climatic and soil changes with increasing elevation, AGC stocks are lower in tropical montane compared to lowland forests. Here we assemble and analyse a dataset of structurally intact old-growth forests (AfriMont) spanning 44 montane sites in 12 African countries. We find that montane sites in the AfriMont plot network have a mean AGC-stock of 149.4 Mg C/ha (95% CI 137.1-164.2), comparable to lowland forests in the African Tropical Rainforest Observation Network and about 70% and 32% higher than averages from plot networks in montane and lowland forests in the Neotropics, respectively. Notably, our results are two-thirds higher than the
IPCC default values for these forests in Africa. We find that the low stem density and high abundance of large trees of African lowland forests is mirrored in the montane forests sampled. This carbon store is endangered: we estimate that 0.8 million ha of old-growth African montane forest have been lost since 2000. We provide country-specific montane forest AGC stock estimates modelled from our plot network to help guide forest conservation and reforestation interventions. Our findings highlight the need for conserving these biodiverse and carbon-rich ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-542
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2021

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