Effects of land use on wetland carbon storage and ecosystem services in the tropics : A first estimation investing rural wetlands in central and eastern Uganda

University essay from Umeå universitet/Institutionen för ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap

Abstract: Wetlands provide important ecosystem services (ES) by storing large amounts of organic carbon (OC) and being of high biological, cultural, and economical value. Uganda is covered by vast wetland areas but has with a booming population rapidly been decreasing due to pressure on lands. The aim of this report was to examine important socio-ecological dynamics of rural wetlands in relation to variations of land use in central and eastern Uganda. This by assessing above- (ABG) and belowground (BG) C stocks, soil pH, and capturing provisioning ES and related impacts on soil and vegetation. The methods involved initial spatial analysis followed by two field campaigns with collection of soil samples, biomass measurements and recordings of provisioning ES, following locally developed standardized methods. Laboratory soil analyses included bulk density, loss on ignition and pH. The results shows that the permanent wetland LUC classes store the most total ecosystem C (273.5 to 356.5 t C ha-1), with the BG pool being the largest. It further brings new insights to the much less studied seasonal wetlands that also proves to be an important C stock (331.1 t C ha-1) as well as providing essential ES. In line with previous research, the total ecosystem C and the provisioning ES of wetlands decreases with changing land use management (farmlands 185 to 209; grasslands 125; woodland 120 to 284 t C ha-1). Further knowledge of socio-ecological dynamics of wetlands is needed, especially in seasonal wetlands, to increase sustainable wetland management. This being urgently needed for many communities in Uganda that are dependent on agroecologically-based economies in close relation to wetland ES and vulnerable to climate variations.

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