Homegardens as a Multi-functional Land-Use Strategy in Sri Lanka with Focus on Carbon Sequestration
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This paper explores the concept of homegardens and their potential functions as strategic elements in land-use planning, and adaptation and mitigation to climate change in Sri Lanka. The ancient and locally adapted agroforestry system of homegardens is presently estimated to occupy nearly 15 % of the land area in Sri Lanka and is described in the scientific literature to offer several ecosystem services to its users; such as climate regulation, protection against natural hazards, enhanced land productivity and biological diversity, increased crop diversity and food security for rural poor and hence reduced vulnerability to climate change. Our results, based on a limited sample size, indicate that the homegardens also store significant amount of carbon, with above ground biomass carbon stocks in dry zone homegardens (n = 8) ranging from 10 to 55 megagrams of carbon per hectare (Mg C ha−1) with a mean value of 35 Mg C ha−1, whereas carbon stocks in wet zone homegardens (n = 4) range from 48 to 145 Mg C ha−1 with a mean value of 87 Mg C ha−1. This implies that homegardens may contain a significant fraction of the total above ground biomass carbon stock in the terrestrial system in Sri Lanka, and from our estimates its share has increased from almost one-sixth in 1992 to nearly one-fifth in 2010. In the light of current discussions on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), the concept of homegardens in Sri Lanka provides interesting aspects to the debate and future research in terms of forest definitions, setting reference levels, and general sustainability.
KeywordsLand rehabilitation Carbon sequestration and offsets Land-use expansion and intensification REDD+ implications
We thank the Swedish Energy Agency and the Swedish research network Focali for financial support and Ulrik Ilstedt, Gert Nyberg and Sabine Henders for grateful comments on the manuscript. We thank the reviewers for helpful comments and questions that significantly improved the paper.
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