Chin J Plan Ecolo ›› 2013, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (1): 80-92.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1258.2013.00009

• Review • Previous Articles    

Review of advances in carbon sequestration potential of agroforestry

PING Xiao-Yan*, WANG Tie-Mei, and LU Xin-Shi   

  1. College of Forestry, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
  • Received:2012-08-06 Revised:2012-12-20 Online:2013-01-15 Published:2013-01-01
  • Contact: PING Xiao-Yan


Agroforestry is regarded as a sustainable land-use management due to its potential for solving the problem of resource deficiency, improving the livelihood of rural areas and reducing environmental degradation. Agroforestry has attracted considerable scientific attention since the Kyoto Protocol because it has relatively high potential for carbon sequestration. Comprehensively understanding the process of carbon sequestration in agroforestry and its response to climate change, environmental variation and management practices is essential for predicting the carbon sequestration potential of agroforestry under varying climate and land-use patterns. This paper first reviews the concept and classification of agroforestry and then proposes the mechanism of higher carbon sequestration in agroforestry systems compared with monocropping or monoculture pasture systems. Furthermore, the methods used for quantifying the carbon sequestration potential of agroforestry and the present challenges are discussed. Based on the systematic review of previous studies, the effects of climatic factors, environmental conditions and management practices on carbon sequestration potential of agroforestry are illustrated. The carbon sequestration potential of agroforestry is relatively low in China compared with other regions around the world. In order to improve the carbon sequestration potential of agroforestry, future studies should focus on enlarging the area of agroforestry, developing appropriate designs and management of agroforestry, selecting appropriate species composition and optimizing the multi-layer structure of agroforestry.

[1] Albrecht A, Kandji ST (2003). Carbon sequestration in tropical agroforestry systems. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 99, 15-27. CrossRef
[2] Archer S, Boutton TW, Hibbard KA (2001). Trees in grasslands: biogeochemical consequences of woody plant expansion. In: Schulze ED, Harrison SP, Heimann M, Holland EA, Lloyd J, Prentice IC, Schimel D eds. Global Biogeochemical Cycles in the Climate System. Academic Press, SanDiego. 115-138. CrossRef
[3] Bombelli A, Henry M, Castaldi S, Adu-Bredu S, Arneth A, De Grandcourt A, Grieco E, Kutsch WL, Lehsten V, Rasile A (2009). An outlook on the Sub-Saharan Africa carbon balance. Biogeosciences, 6, 2193-2205. CrossRef
[4] Bradford JBBJB, Kastendick DNKDN (2010). Age-related patterns of forest complexity and carbon storage in pine and aspen-birch ecosystems of northern Minnesota, USA. Canadian journal of forest research, 40, 401-409. CrossRef
[5] Bronick C, Lal R (2005). Soil structure and management: a review. Geoderma, 124, 3-22. CrossRef
[6] Cannell MGR (2003). Carbon sequestration and biomass energy offset: theoretical, potential and achievable capacities globally, in Europe and the UK. Biomass and Bioenergy, 24, 97-116. CrossRef
[7] Dagang A, Nair PKR (2003). Silvopastoral research and adoption in Central America: recent findings and recommendations for future directions. Agroforestry Systems, 59, 149-155. CrossRef
[8] Dagang ABK (2007). Establishment of silvopastoral systems in degraded, grazed pastures: Tree seedling survival and forage production under trees in Panama. PhD dissertation. University of Florida, Florida, USA. CrossRef
[9] Ding SW(丁树文), Wang F(王峰), Cai CF(蔡崇法), Shi ZH(史志华), Peng YX(彭业轩), Jiang C(姜成), Zhang GY(张光远) (2004). Effects of two hedgerows species on nutrients uptake for crops. Resources Science (资源科学), 26, 156-160. (in Chinese with English abstract) CrossRef
[10] Dixon RK (1995). Agroforestry systems: sources of sinks of greenhouse gases?. Agroforestry Systems, 31, 99-116. CrossRef
[11] Dube F, Espinosa M, Stolpe NB, Zagal E, Thevathasan NV, Gordon AM (2012). Productivity and carbon storage in silvopastoral systems with Pinus ponderosa and Trifolium spp., plantations and pasture on an Andisol in Patagonia, Chile. Agroforestry Systems, 86, 113-128. CrossRef
[12] Ellis EA, Bentrup G, Schoeneberger MM (2004). Computer-based tools for decision support in agroforestry: Current state and future needs. Agroforestry Systems, 61, 401-421. CrossRef
[13] Fan W(樊巍), Gao XR(高喜荣) (2004). Research advances on the silvopastoral system. Forest Research (林业科学研究), 17, 519-524. (in Chinese with English abstract) CrossRef
[14] Gama-Rodrigues EF, Nair PKR, Nair VD, Gama-Rodrigues AC, Baligar VC, Machado RCR (2010). Carbon storage in soil size fractions under two cacao agroforestry systems in Bahia, Brazil. Environmental management, 45, 274-283. CrossRef
[15] Gordon AM, Jose S (2008). Applying ecological knowledge to agroforestry design: A synthesis. In: Jose S, Gordon AM eds. Toward Agroforestry Design. Springer, Netherlands. 301-306. CrossRef
[16] Gordon AM, Newman SM (1997). Temperate Agroforestry Systems, CAB international. CrossRef
[17] Garcia-Oliva F, Masera OR (2004). Assessment and measurement issues related to soil carbon sequestration in land-use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF) projects under the Kyoto protocol. Climatic Change, 65, 347-364. CrossRef
[18] Haile SG, Nair VD, Nair PKR (2010). Contribution of trees to carbon storage in soils of silvopastoral systems in Florida, USA. Global Change Biology, 16, 427-438. CrossRef
[19] Ibrahim M, Villanueva C, Mora J (2005). Traditional and improved silvopastoral systems and their importance in sustainability of livestock farms. In: Mosquera MR, Riguerio A, McAdam J eds. Silvopastoralism and Sustainable Land Management. CAB, Wallingford, UK. 13-18. CrossRef
[20] Izac A, Sanchez PA (2001). Towards a natural resource management paradigm for international agriculture: the example of agroforestry research. Agricultural Systems, 69, 5-25. CrossRef
[21] Jobbágy EG, Jackson RB (2000). The vertical distribution of soil organic carbon and its relation to climate and vegetation. Ecological applications, 10, 423-436. CrossRef
[22] Jose S (2009). Agroforestry for ecosystem services and environmental benefits: an overview. Agroforestry Systems, 76, 1-10. CrossRef
[23] Kaur B, Gupta S, Singh G (2002). Carbon storage and nitrogen cycling in silvopastoral systems on a sodic in northwestern India. Agroforestry Systems, 54, 21-29. CrossRef
[24] Kunhamu T, Kumar BM, Samuel S (2011). Does tree management affect biomass and soil carbon stocks of Acacia mangium Willd. stands in Kerala, India? In: Kumar BM, Nair PKR eds. Carbon Sequestration Potential of Agroforestry Systems. Springer, Netherlands. 217-228. CrossRef
[25] Kürsten E (2000). Fuelwood production in agroforestry systems for sustainable land use and CO2-mitigation. Ecological Engineering, 16, 69-72. CrossRef
[26] Lal R (2004). Soil carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change. Geoderma, 123, 1-22. CrossRef
[27] Li HK(李海奎), Lei YC(雷渊才) (2010). Estimation and Evaluation of Forest Biomass Carbon Storage in China (中国森林植被生物量和碳储量评估). Chinese Forestry Press, Beijing. (in Chinese) CrossRef
[28] Li QY(李庆云) (2008). The Research on Carbon Storage of Populus-crop Intercropping System in the Huanghuaihai plain (黄淮海平原杨农间作系统碳贮量研究). Master dissertation. Henan Agriculture University, Zhengzhou, China. (in Chinese with English abstract) CrossRef
[29] Li WH(李文华), Lai SD(赖世登) (1994). Agroforestry Management in China (中国农林复合经营). Science Press, Beijing. (in Chinese) CrossRef
[30] Li XW(李贤伟), Zhang J(张健), Hu TX(胡庭兴), Luo CD(罗承德) (2009). Theory of the Conversion of Farmland to Forests and Application of Forest-grass Mode (退耕还林理论基础及林草模式的实践应用). Science Press, Beijing. (in Chinese) CrossRef
[31] Liu XY(刘兴宇), Zeng DH(曾德慧) (2007). Research advances in interspecific interactions in agroforestry system. Chinenses Journal of Ecology (生态学杂志), 26, 1464-1470. (in Chinese with English abstract) CrossRef
[32] Luedeling E, Neufeldt H (2012). Carbon sequestration potential of parkland agroforestry in the Sahel. Climatic Change, DOI: 10. 1007/s10584-012-0438-0. CrossRef
[33] Luedeling E, Sileshi G, Beedy T, Dietz J (2011). Carbon sequestration potential of agroforestry systems in Africa. In: Kumar BM, Nair PKR eds. Carbon Sequestration Potential of Agroforestry Systems. Springer, Netherlands. 61-83. CrossRef
[34] Masera OR, Garza-Caligarisa JF, Kanninenb M, Karjalaineng T, Liskic J, Nabuursd GJ, Pussinenc A, de Jonge BHJ, Mohrenf GMJ (2003). Modeling carbon sequestration in afforestation, agroforestry and forest management projects: the CO2FIX V. 2 approach. Ecological Modelling, 164, 177-199. CrossRef
[35] Menezes RSC, Salcedo IH, Elliott ET (2002). Microclimate and nutrient dynamics in a silvopastoral system of semiarid northeastern Brazil. Agroforestry Systems, 56, 27-38. CrossRef
[36] Meng P(孟平), Zhang JS(张劲松), Fan W(樊巍) (2003). Research on Agroforestry in China (中国复合农林业研究). Chinese Forestry Press, Beijing. (in Chinese) CrossRef
[37] Montagnini F, Nair PKR (2004). Carbon sequestration: an underexploited environmental benefit of agroforestry systems. Agroforestry Systems, 61, 281-295. CrossRef
[38] Mosquera-Losada MR, Freese D, Rigueiro-Rodríguez A (2011). Carbon sequestration in European agroforestry systems. In: Kumar BM, Nair PKR eds. Carbon Sequestration Potential of Agroforestry Systems. Springer, Netherlands. 43-59. CrossRef
[39] Nair PKR (1985). Classification of agroforestry systems. Agroforestry Systems, 3, 97-128. CrossRef
[40] Nair PKR (1993). An Introduction to Agroforestry. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Springer. CrossRef
[41] Nair PKR (2011). Agroforestry systems and environmental quality: Introduction. Journal of environmental quality, 40, 784-790. CrossRef
[42] Nair PKR (2011). Carbon sequestration studies in agroforestry systems: a reality-check. Agroforestry Systems, 86, 243-253. CrossRef
[43] Nair PKR (2011). Methodological challenges in estimating carbon sequestration potential of agroforestry systems. In: Kumar BM, Nair PKR eds. Carbon Sequestration Potential of Agroforestry Systems. Springer, Netherlands. 3-16. CrossRef
[44] Nair PKR, Kumar BM, Nair VD (2009). Agroforestry as a strategy for carbon sequestration. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, 172, 10-23. CrossRef
[45] Nair PKR, Nair VD, Gama-Rodrigues E, Garcia R, Haile S, Howlett DS, Kumar BM, Mosquera-Losada MR, Saha S, Takimoto A, Tonucci R (2009). Soil carbon in agroforestry systems: An unexplored treasure?: Available from Nature Precedings. http: //hdl. handle. net/10101/npre. 2009. 4061. 1. CrossRef
[46] Nair PKR, Nair VD, Kumar BM, Haile SG (2009). Soil carbon sequestration in tropical agroforestry systems: a feasibility appraisal. Environmental Science & Policy, 12, 1099-1111. CrossRef
[47] Nair PKR, Nair VD, Kumar BM, Showalter JM (2010). Carbon sequestration in agroforestry systems. Advances in agronomy, 108, 237-307. CrossRef
[48] Oelbermann M, Paul Voroney R, Gordon AM (2004). Carbon sequestration in tropical and temperate agroforestry systems: a review with examples from Costa Rica and southern Canada. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 104, 359-377. CrossRef
[49] Oelbermann M, Voroney RP, Kass DCL, Schl?nvoigt AM (2005). Above- and below-ground carbon inputs in 19-, 10- and 4-year-old Costa Rican Alley cropping systems. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 105, 163-172. CrossRef
[50] Pandey DN (2002). Carbon sequestration in agroforestry systems. Climate Policy, 2, 367-377. CrossRef
[51] Parry ML (2007). Climate Change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability: contribution of Working Group II to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. CrossRef
[52] Peichl M, Thevathasan NV, Gordon AM, Huss J, Abohassan RA (2006). Carbon sequestration potentials in temperate tree-based intercropping systems, southern Ontario, Canada. Agroforestry Systems, 66, 243-257.CrossRef
[53] Power IL, Thorrold BS, Balks MR (2003). Soil properties and nitrogen availability in silvopastoral plantings of Acacia melanoxylon in North Island, New Zealand. Agroforestry Systems, 57, 225-237. CrossRef
[54] Saha SK (2008). Carbon Sequestration Potential of Tropical Homegardens and Related Land-use Systems in Kerala, India. PhD dissertation. University of Florida. Florida, USA CrossRef
[55] Sampson RN, Scholes, RJ, Cerri, C, Erda, L, Hall, DO, Handa, M, Hill, P, Howden, M, Janzen, H, Kimble, J, Lal, R, Marland, G, Minami, K, Paustian, K, Read, P, Sanchez, PA, Scoppa, C, Solberg, B, Trossero, MA, Trumbore, S, Van Cleemput, O, Whitmore, A, Xu, D, Burrows, B, Conant, R, Liping, G, Hall, W, Kaegi, W, Reyenga, P, Roulet, N, Skog, KE, Smith, GR, Wang, Y (2000). Additional human-induced activities-Article 3. 4. In: Watson R, NobleI R, Bolin B, Ravindranath N, Verardo D, Dokken D eds. Land Use, Land-use Change, and Forestry. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 181-282. CrossRef
[56] Sanchez PA (1995). Science in agroforestry. Agroforestry Systems, 30, 5-55. CrossRef
[57] Sathaye JA, Ravindranath NH (1998). Climate change mitigation in the energy and forestry sectors of developing countries. Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, 23, 387-437. CrossRef
[58] Schoeneberger MM (2009). Agroforestry: working trees for sequestering carbon on agricultural lands. Agroforestry Systems, 75, 27-37. CrossRef
[59] Schroeder P (1994). Carbon storage benefits of agroforestry systems. Agroforestry Systems, 27, 89-97. CrossRef
[60] Schroth G (1998). A review of belowground interactions in agroforestry, focussing on mechanisms and management options. Agroforestry Systems, 43, 5-34. CrossRef
[61] Schroth G, D'Angelo SA, Teixeira WG, Haag D, Lieberei R (2002). Conversion of secondary forest into agroforestry and monoculture plantations in Amazonia: consequences for biomass, litter and soil carbon stocks after 7 years. Forest Ecology and Management, 163, 131-150. CrossRef
[62] Sharrow SH, Ismail S (2004). Carbon and nitrogen storage in agroforests, tree plantations, and pastures in western Oregon, USA. Agroforestry Systems, 60, 123-130. CrossRef
[63] Singh P, Lodhiyal LS (2009). Biomass and carbon allocation in 8-year-old poplar (Populus deltoides Marsh) plantation in Tarai agroforestry systems of Central Himalaya, India. New York Science Journal, 2, 49-53. CrossRef
[64] Smiley G, Kroschel J (2008). Temporal change in carbon stocks of cocoa-gliricidia agroforests in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Agroforestry Systems, 73, 219-231. CrossRef
[65] Smith P, Falloon P, Franko U, K?rschens M, Lal R, Paustian K, Powlson D, Romanenkov V, Shevtsova L, Smith J (2007). Greenhouse gas mitigation potential in agricultural soils. In: Ganadel JG, Pataki DE, Pitelka LF eds. Terrestrial Ecosystems in a Changing World. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelber, 227-235. CrossRef
[66] Srivastava P, Kumar A, Behera SK, Sharma YK, Singh N (2012). Soil carbon sequestration: an innovative strategy for reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Biodiversity and Conservation, 21, 1343-1358. CrossRef
[67] Takimoto A (2007). Carbon Sequestration Potential of Agroforestry Systems in the West African Sahel: An Assessment of Biological and Socioeconomic Feasibility. PhD dissertation. University of Florida. Florida, USA CrossRef
[68] Takimoto A, Nair VD, Nair PKR (2009). Contribution of trees to soil carbon sequestration under agroforestry systems in the West African Sahel. Agroforestry Systems, 76, 11-25. CrossRef
[69] Thangata PH, Hildebrand PE (2012). Carbon stock and sequestration potential of agroforestry systems in smallholder agroecosystems of sub-Saharan Africa: Mechanisms for ‘reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation’ (REDD+). Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 158, 172-183. CrossRef
[70] Udawatta RP, Jose S (2011). Carbon sequestration potential of agroforestry practices in temperate North America. In: Kumar BM, Nair PKR eds. Carbon Sequestration Potential of Agroforestry Systems. Springer, Netherlands. 17-42. CrossRef
[71] Udawatta RP, Jose S (2012). Agroforestry strategies to sequester carbon in temperate North America. Agroforestry Systems, DOI 10. 1007/s10457-10012-19561-10451. CrossRef
[72] van’t Veld K, Plantinga A (2005). Carbon sequestration or abatement? The effect of rising carbon prices on the optimal portfolio of greenhouse-gas mitigation strategies. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 50, 59-81. CrossRef
[73] Wan M(万猛), Tian DL(田大伦), Fan W(樊巍), Li QY(李庆云) (2009). Biomass production and carbon sequestration in poplar-crop agroforestry ecosystems in eastern Henan plain. Scientia Silvae Sinicae (林业科学), 45, 27-33. (in Chinese with English abstract) CrossRef
[74] Watson R, NobleI R, Bolin B, Ravindranath N, Verardo D, Dokken D eds. (2000). Land use, Land-use Change, and Forestry. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. CrossRef
[75] Ward PR, Micin SF, Fillery IRP (2012). Application of eddy covariance to determine ecosystem-scale carbon balance and evapotranspiration in an agroforestry system. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 152, 178-188. CrossRef
[76] Wolf S, Eugster W, Potvin C, Buchmann N (2011). Strong seasonal variations in net ecosystem CO2 exchange of a tropical pasture and afforestation in Panama. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 151, 1139-1151. CrossRef
[77] Xiao ZW(萧自位), Wang LJ(王丽娟), Mao JM(毛加梅), Zhu XZ(朱兴正), Wang XL(王小李), Zheng L(郑丽), Tang JW(唐建维) (2012). Carbon storage of different tree-tea agroforestry systems in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province of Southwest China. Chinese Journal of Ecology(生态学杂志), 31, 1617-1625. (in Chinese with English abstract) CrossRef
[78] Yadava AK (2010). Carbon sequestration: underexploited environmental benefits of Tarai agroforestry systems. Indian Journal of Soil Conservation, 38, 125-131. CrossRef
[79] Yu GR(于贵瑞), Wang QF(王秋凤), Liu YC(刘迎春), Liu YH(刘颖慧) (2011). Conceptual framework of carbon sequestration rate and potential increment of carbon sink of regional terrestrial ecosystem and scientific basis for quantitative carbon authentification. Progress in Geography (地球科学进展), 30, 771-787. (in Chinese with English abstract) CrossRef
[80] Zeng YQ(曾艳琼), Lu XS(卢欣石) (2008). Current advance and benefits of tree-grass complex system researches. Pratacul Tural Science (草业科学), 25, 33-36. (in Chinese with English abstract) CrossRef
[81] Zhai T, Mohtar RH, Gillespie AR, von Kiparski GR, Johnson KD, Neary M (2006). Modeling forage growth in a Midwest USA silvopastoral system. Agroforestry Systems, 67, 243-257. CrossRef
[82] Zomer RJ, Trabucco A, Coe R, Place F (2009). Trees on farm: analysis of global extent and geographical patterns of agroforestry. ICRAF Working Paper. World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi, Kenya. CrossRef
[83] Zou X, Sanford RL (1990). Agroforestry systems in China: a survey and classification. Agroforestry Systems, 11, 85-94. CrossRef
No related articles found!
Full text



[1] Chne Fu-heng and Fan Jun-shen. [J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1988, 5(02): 127 .
[2] Li Zhong-ming. An Introduction To The Methods of Reconstruction of Whole Fossil Plants[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1994, 11(03): 58 -61 .
[3] LI Niang-Hui;CHEN Ru-Min;HUANG Qun-Sheng and PAN Rui-Chi. The Effect of 4PU-30 on the Photosynthesis and Pod Yield of Peanut[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1999, 16(02): 182 -185 .
[4] Jin Liu;Huali Tian;Yahong Wang;Aiguang Guo. Overexpression of a Novel Antifungal Protein Gene GNK2-1 Results in Elevated Resistance of Transgenic Cucumber to Fusarium oxysporum[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2010, 45(04): 411 -418 .
[5] ZHANG Xian-Sheng;MA Xiao-Jie and GUO Hai-Xin. Molecular Bases of Ovule Development[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1998, 15(03): 1 -5 .
[6] WANG Jing-Shan SUN Shi-Meng WANG Wei-Hua BI Ying-Na XU Li-Juan MENG Xiang-Xia. Somatic Hybrids Between Cultivars of the Same Cross-Incompatible Group in Sweet Potato[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2004, 21(03): 306 -311 .
[7] William Tang. Insect pollination in the cycad Zamia pumila Zamiaceae[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1995, 12(专辑): 67 -68 .
[8] Fan Guo-qiang and Tan Ke-hui. Inhibitory Effect of Non-induced Photoperiod on Plant Flowering[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1997, 14(01): 8 -12 .
[9] Li Changxiao;Zheng Tiesong;Guo Haitao and Ma Xiuqing. In Vitro Rapid Propagation of Traditional Chinese Medicine Licorice Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 1986, 4(12): 84 -85 .
[10] . Advances in Induction of Gynogenesis In Vitro by Unpollinated Ovary and Ovule Culture[J]. Chin Bull Bot, 2005, 22(增刊): 108 -117 .