Skip to main content

Agroforestry systems recover tree carbon stock faster than natural succession in Eastern Amazon, Brazil


The potential of agroforestry systems (AFS) for atmospheric carbon sequestration in degraded tropical lands is of key interest for climate change and rural development policies. This study evaluated aboveground and soil (0–20 cm) carbon stocks of AFS, secondary forests (SF), conserved and logged mature forests, on 88 sites in the eastern Brazilian Amazon. Tree carbon stock was higher in young (< 10 years) and advanced (> 30 years) AFS (10.2 ± 2.0 and 47.2 ± 8.1 Mg ha−1, respectively) when compared to the same age SF (5.8 ± 2.5 and 26.5 ± 19.5 Mg ha−1). However, aboveground and total carbon stocks were statistically similar within the same age categories of AFS and SF, because shrub pool were higher in SF. Conserved mature forests had the highest carbon stocks (190.2 ± 11.0 Mg ha−1), and carbon stocks in logged mature forests (119.4 ± 5.1 Mg ha−1) were similar to the advanced stages of AFS (108.6 ± 7.5 Mg ha−1). Litter and soil organic carbon (SOC) did not differ significantly between land-use systems nor along succession. At 30 years, aboveground carbon recovery was 46% (± 16) in AFS and 35% (± 21) in SF. Vegetation structural diversity (measured by DBH and height variation) was a good predictor of aboveground carbon stocks. Our results show the potential of AFS for carbon recovery, especially in the tree pool at late stages of development. Structurally more complex AFS provide an alternative to recover degraded lands and to develop synergies between climate change mitigation, adaptation, and goods production in Amazon.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


Download references


The authors are grateful for the financial support received from Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), Brazil National Research Council (CNPq), Foundation for Research and Scientific and Technological Development of Maranhão (FAPEMA), the logistical support provided by INCRA, Tomé-Açu Agricultural Cooperative (CAMTA) and the State University of Maranhão (UEMA). We appreciated the collaboration of many students who assisted us in the field and in the laboratory. We thank all the farmers that participated in this study.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Danielle Celentano.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


Appendix 1

See Table 3.

Table 3 Study sites in 13 municipalities, in the Brazilian States of Maranhão and Pará, eastern Amazon

Appendix 2

See Table 4.

Table 4 Agroforestry systems species richness (S) and composition, in the Brazilian States of Maranhão and Pará, eastern Amazon

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cardozo, E.G., Celentano, D., Rousseau, G.X. et al. Agroforestry systems recover tree carbon stock faster than natural succession in Eastern Amazon, Brazil. Agroforest Syst 96, 941–956 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Amazon
  • Forest succession
  • Biomass
  • Stand structure
  • Secondary forest