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Ecological Research

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 641–648 | Cite as

Effect of land use conversion on soil organic carbon sequestration in the loess hilly area, loess plateau of China

  • Liding ChenEmail author
  • Jie Gong
  • Bojie Fu
  • Zhilin Huang
  • Yilong Huang
  • Lide Gui
Original Article

Abstract

Changes in land use may alter land cover, which results in carbon stock changes in biomass as well as in the soil. In China’s loess plateau, vegetation restoration has been conducted since 1950s to control soil erosion and improve the ecosystem, with significant investment of money and manpower. Despite these efforts, soil erosion has still been severe. To reduce soil erosion and improve land quality, China initiated another state-funded project, Grain-for-Green, in 1999 in the loess plateau. However, it is not clear how effective this newly initiated project will be. In this study, we evaluated the effect of land-use conversion on soil organic carbon (SOC) and the potential effect of the current project on SOC sequestration in the Anjiapo catchment area of the loess hilly area of the loess plateau in China. This evaluation is based on SOC measurements in cropland versus in other converted land use types. We found that SOC sequestration mainly occurred in the surface soil after land use conversion took place. Land use conversion from cropland to shrubland or wild grassland (i.e. undisturbed land) was better for SOC sequestration than tree plantation in the semi-arid loess hilly area. By using the land use change in the study area as a scenario, the potential contribution of land use change on SOC sequestration due to the Grain-for-Green project was estimated. It was found that this project in the loess plateau of China would be helpful for SOC sequestration if successfully implemented.

Keywords

Land use conversion Soil organic carbon (SOC) concentration Soil organic carbon density (SOCD) Soil organic carbon sequestration Grain-for-Green project Loess hilly area  China 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Financial support for this research came from the Natural Science Foundation of China (90502007; 40321101) and the National Advanced Project of the 10th 5-year Plan of China (2004BA606A–03). The authors would like to thank the Institute of Soil and Water Conservation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences for conducting laboratory analysis, and the Dingxi Institute of Soil and Water Conservation for fieldwork support and data collection. Sincere thanks are given to Prof. Yang X.J., Department of Geography of Florida State University for his assistance with the English text. We would also like to express our thanks to the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.

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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liding Chen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jie Gong
    • 1
  • Bojie Fu
    • 1
  • Zhilin Huang
    • 1
  • Yilong Huang
    • 1
  • Lide Gui
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Dingxi Institute of Soil and Water ConservationDingxiPeople’s Republic of China

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