Quantification of carbon stocks in Mount Marsabit Forest Reserve, a sub-humid montane forest in northern Kenya under anthropogenic disturbance

Muhati, G. L., Olago D., & Olaka L. (2018).  Quantification of carbon stocks in Mount Marsabit Forest Reserve, a sub-humid montane forest in northern Kenya under anthropogenic disturbance. Global Ecology and Conservation. 14,


The quantification of carbon stocks is vital for decision making in forest management, carbon stock change assessment and scientific applications. We applied the land degradation surveillance framework (LDSF) method with a sentinel site of (10 km × 10 km) to assess carbon stock levels and tree diversity in the Marsabit Forest Reserve (MFR). The above ground (ABG) carbon stock was estimated at 12.42 t/ha, while soil organic carbon (SOC) was 12.51 t/ha, with SOC densities increasing with increasing depth. The mean ABG carbon and SOC densities were higher in the least disturbed strata than the disturbed strata. The estimated ABG carbon and SOC stocks were significantly lower than the range observed in a typical dry tropical forest. Twenty-one tree species were recorded belonging to twelve families with the disturbed areas recording nine tree species while the least disturbed recording twelve species. Rubiaceae and Rutaceae were the richest families with four species each while Boraginaceae, Capparaceae, Flacourtiaceae, Tiliaceae, Violaceae, and Ochnaceae the least frequent with one species each. The most common tree species were, Croton megalocarpus, Drypetes gerrardii, Ochna insculpta, Strychnos henningsii and Vangueria madagascariensis. The forest recorded a basal diameter of 14.09 ± 12.15 cm, basal area of 0.016 m 2/ha with a mean height of 8.69 m. The basal size class distribution declined monotonically indicative of a stable population. Livestock grazing, selective logging, and firewood collection were the primary forms of anthropogenic activities recorded in the MFR despite the moratorium imposed on consumptive utilisation of forest products by the Marsabit County security committee. The Pearson correlation coefficient returned an inverse relationship between forest disturbance with SOC and ABG carbon in the disturbed strata suggesting that anthropogenic activities reduced carbon stocks in the MFR. Concerted efforts to mitigate anthropogenic impacts on the MFR could significantly increase its terrestrial carbon sequestration potential and the provision of critical ecosystem goods and services.

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