, Volume 88, Issue 6, pp 1117-1132
Date: 09 Oct 2013

Carbon stocks, tree diversity, and the role of organic certification in different cocoa production systems in Alto Beni, Bolivia

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Abstract

This study compares aboveground and belowground carbon stocks and tree diversity in different cocoa cultivation systems in Bolivia: monoculture, simple agroforestry, and successional agroforestry, as well as fallow as a control. Since diversified, agroforestry-based cultivation systems are often considered important for sustainable development, we also evaluated the links between carbon stocks and tree diversity, as well as the role of organic certification in transitioning from monoculture to agroforestry. Biomass, tree diversity, and soil physiochemical parameters were sampled in 15 plots measuring 48 × 48 m. Semi-structured interviews with 52 cocoa farmers were used to evaluate the role of organic certification and farmers’ organizations (e.g., cocoa cooperatives) in promoting tree diversity. Total carbon stocks in simple agroforestry systems (128.4 ± 20 Mg ha−1) were similar to those on fallow plots (125.2 ± 10 Mg ha−1). Successional agroforestry systems had the highest carbon stocks (143.7 ± 5.3 Mg ha−1). Monocultures stored significantly less carbon than all other systems (86.3 ± 4.0 Mg ha−1, posterior probability P(Diff > 0) of 0.000–0.006). Among shade tree species, Schizolobium amazonicum, Centrolobium ochroxylum, and Anadenanthera sp. accumulated the most biomass. High-value timber species (S. amazonicum, C. ochroxylum, Amburana cearensis, and Swietenia macrophylla) accounted for 22.0 % of shade tree biomass. The Shannon index and tree species richness were highest in successional agroforestry systems. Cocoa plots on certified organic farms displayed significantly higher tree species richness than plots on non-certified farms. Thus, expanding the coverage of organic farmers’ organizations may be an effective strategy for fostering transitions from monoculture to agroforestry systems.