Plant and Soil

, Volume 393, Issue 1–2, pp 95–107 | Cite as

Biomass and soil carbon stocks of indigenous agroforestry systems on the south-eastern Rift Valley escarpment, Ethiopia

  • Mesele Negash
  • Mike StarrEmail author
Regular Article


Background and Aims

Biomass carbon (C) and soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks in three indigenous agroforestry (AF) systems (Enset [Ensete ventricosum, Musaceae], Enset-Coffee and Fruit-Coffee) practiced on the Rift Valley escarpment of Ethiopia are presented and evaluated. These unique AF systems are characterised by a high proportion and diversity of trees.


Data were collected from six smallholdings per AF system. Above- and belowground biomass of trees (fruit and non-fruit), enset and coffee plants were calculated using allometric equations while the biomasses of herbs, litter and fine roots (<2 cm) were determined by destructive sampling techniques. SOC stocks (0–30 and 30–60 cm) were calculated from measured C contents and bulk density values.


Smallholding total biomass C stocks averaged 67 Mg ha−1 with trees accounting for 39–93 %. Herbs accounted for <4 % of aboveground biomass. Coffee accounted for 11 % and enset 9 % of total biomass C on average. SOC stocks (0–60 cm) were 109–253 Mg ha−1 (52–91 % of total C stocks) and uncorrelated to biomass C stocks. Biomass C or SOC stocks did not significantly differ between AF systems but biomass C stocks were significantly correlated to elevation.


The C stocks of the three studied AF systems were found to be amongst the highest reported for tropical forests and agroforestry systems. These unique AF systems are therefore well suited to REDD+ projects. However, the C stocks were more determined by individual smallholder management practice than by AF system or climate (elevation).


Agroforestry Enset Coffee Carbon sequestration Soil organic carbon South-eastern Ethiopia 



We acknowledge financial support for the first author from International Foundation for Science (IFS Grt. No. D/4836-2), the Finnish Cultural Foundation, and the Finnish Society of Forest Science. We are grateful to Dr. Eshetu Yirdaw for valuable comments on the planning stage of this study. The Viikki Tropical Resource Institute, Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki and the Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural Resources, Hawassa University, Ethiopia are also acknowledged for offering a postgraduate study opportunity for the first author. We are also indebted to Gedeo farmers for allowing us to visit and carry out this study on their farms and for providing marvellous experiences. Finally, we wish to thank the three anonymous reviewers whose comments and suggestions improved this paper.

Supplementary material

11104_2015_2469_MOESM1_ESM.docx (27 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 27 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Viikki Tropical Resources Institute, Department of Forest SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Department of Forest SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural ResourcesHawassa UniversityShashmeneEthiopia

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