Francisco M. Padilla and colleagues explored land-use changes and associated carbon sequestration that occurred through the 20th century in a rural area of southeast Spain. They observed that forest systems replaced dry land farming and pastures from the middle of the century onwards because of agricultural abandonment and afforestation programs. The area, which acts as a carbon sink, saw an increase in carbon stocks following the conversion of farmland to woodland. The authors carried out a land-use classification, determined carbon sequestration rates for the different types of land-use classes, and finally integrated total carbon stock of the different land-use units based on carbon sequestration rates. The area studied in Spain covered
Forest ecosystems are vulnerable to change because human activity causes profound changes in land-use configuration and thus to carbon stocks in the forests and carbon emissions into the atmosphere. To formulate policies that address climate change, carbon sequestration in various types of ecosystems must be monitored because they act as net carbon sinks, fixing more carbon dioxide than they release back into the atmosphere. To provide a basis for measuring implications of land-use change on carbon sequestration services, Padilla et al. (2010) explored the intense changes in land use and potential associated carbon sequestration in the last century in southeast Spain. These changes had important consequences for carbon sequestration and, through this research, the importance of protecting forests for carbon stocks is demonstrated and can be used in policy making. — Abby Cheitlin
Padilla, F. M., Vidal, B., Sánchez, J., Pugnaire, F., 2010. Land-use changes and carbon sequestration through the twentieth century in a Mediterranean mountain ecosystem: Implications for land management. Journal of Environmental Management 91, 2688–2695.