Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 87, Issue 5, pp 1173–1187 | Cite as

Conversion of tropical moist forest into cacao agroforest: consequences for carbon pools and annual C sequestration

  • Christoph LeuschnerEmail author
  • Gerald Moser
  • Dietrich Hertel
  • Stefan Erasmi
  • Daniela Leitner
  • Heike Culmsee
  • Bernhard Schuldt
  • Luitgard Schwendenmann


Tropical forests store a large part of the terrestrial carbon and play a key role in the global carbon (C) cycle. In parts of Southeast Asia, conversion of natural forest to cacao agroforestry systems is an important driver of deforestation, resulting in C losses from biomass and soil to the atmosphere. This case study from Sulawesi, Indonesia, compares natural forest with nearby shaded cacao agroforests for all major above and belowground biomass C pools (n = 6 plots) and net primary production (n = 3 plots). Total biomass (above- and belowground to 250 cm soil depth) in the forest (approx. 150 Mg C ha−1) was more than eight times higher than in the agroforest (19 Mg C ha−1). Total net primary production (NPP, above- and belowground) was larger in the forest than in the agroforest (approx. 29 vs. 20 Mg dry matter (DM) ha−1 year−1), while wood increment was twice as high in the forest (approx. 6 vs. 3 Mg DM ha−1 year−1). The SOC pools to 250 cm depth amounted to 134 and 78 Mg C ha−1 in the forest and agroforest stands, respectively. Replacement of tropical moist forest by cacao agroforest reduces the biomass C pool by approximately 130 Mg C ha−1; another 50 Mg C ha−1 may be released from the soil. Further, the replacement of forest by cacao agroforest also results in a 70–80 % decrease of the annual C sequestration potential due to a significantly smaller stem increment.


Land use change Net primary production Net ecosystem production Root biomass production Soil organic carbon 



We thank LIPI, the Indonesian Research Foundation, and the officials of the National Park Lore Lindu for the research permit and Pak Yakob for allowing us to conduct the research in his cacao plots. We thank the many field assistants from the villages of Toro and Marena that supported our research. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the German Research Foundation (DFG, SFB 552).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph Leuschner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gerald Moser
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dietrich Hertel
    • 1
  • Stefan Erasmi
    • 3
  • Daniela Leitner
    • 4
  • Heike Culmsee
    • 5
    • 6
  • Bernhard Schuldt
    • 1
  • Luitgard Schwendenmann
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Plant Ecology, Albrecht-von-Haller Institute for Plant SciencesUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Plant EcologyUniversity of GiessenGiessenGermany
  3. 3.Cartography, GIS and Remote Sensing, Institute of GeographyUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  4. 4.Department of Landscape Ecology, Institute of GeographyUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  5. 5.Vegetation and Phytodiversity Analysis, Albrecht-von-Haller Institute for Plant SciencesUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  6. 6.German Federal Foundation for the Environment (DBU)OsnabruckGermany
  7. 7.Department of Tropical Silviculture and Forest Ecology, Burckhardt InstituteUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  8. 8.School of EnvironmentThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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