Estimating carbon stock in lowland Papua New Guinean forest – low density of large trees results in lower than global average carbon stock

Peck, Mika Robert, Kaina, Graham S, Hazell, Richard John, Isua, Brus, Alok, Clant, Paul, Luda and Stewart, Alan J A (2017) Estimating carbon stock in lowland Papua New Guinean forest – low density of large trees results in lower than global average carbon stock. Austral Ecology, 42 (8). pp. 964-975. ISSN 1442-9985

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Abstract

Papua New Guinean forests (PNG), sequestering up to 3% of global forest carbon, are a focus of climate change mitigation initiatives yet few field-based studies have quantified forest biomass and carbon for lowland PNG forest. We provide an estimate for the 10,770 hectare Wanang Conservation Area (WCA) to investigate effect of calculation methodology and choice of allometric equation on estimates of above ground live biomass (AGLB) and carbon. We estimated AGLB and carbon from 43 nested plots at the WCA. Our biomass estimate of 292.2 Mg AGLB ha-1 (95% CI 233.4-350.6) and carbon at 137.3 MgCha-1 (95% CI 109.8-164.8) is higher than most estimates for PNG but lower than mean global estimates for tropical forest. Calculation method and choice of allometric model do not significantly influence mean biomass estimates, however the most recently calibrated allometric equation generates estimates 13% higher for lower 95% confidence intervals of mean biomass than previous allometric models – a value often used as a conservative estimate of biomass. Although large trees at WCA (>70 cm DBH) accounted for 1/5 total biomass their density was lower than that seen in SE Asian and Australia forests. Lower density of large trees accounts for lower above-ground live biomass than in neighbouring forests - as large trees contribute disproportionately to forest biomass. Reduced frequency of larger trees at WCA is explained by the lack of diversity of large dipterocarp species common to neighboring SE Asian forests and, potentially, higher rates of local disturbance dynamics. PNG is susceptible to the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) extreme drought events to which large trees are particularly sensitive and, with still over 20% carbon in large trees, differential mortality under increasing ENSO drought stress raises the risk of PNG forest switching from carbon sink to source with reduced long term carbon storage capacity.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Mika Peck
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2017 09:32
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2017 13:29
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/69399

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Building Biodiversity research capacity as a model to protect 100 KM2 of Papua New Guinea rainforest from logging.G0895DEFRA-DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD, RURAL AFFAIRS19-008