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Carbon Sequestration Potential of the Forest Ecosystems in the Western Ghats, a Global Biodiversity Hotspot

Ramachandra, TV and Bharath, Setturu (2019) Carbon Sequestration Potential of the Forest Ecosystems in the Western Ghats, a Global Biodiversity Hotspot. In: NATURAL RESOURCES RESEARCH .

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Official URL: https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11053-019-09588-0


Global warming with the burgeoning anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (400 parts per million from 280 ppm CO2 emissions of pre-industrial era) has altered climate, eroding the ecosystem productivity and sustenance of water, affecting the livelihood of people. The anthropogenic activities such as burning fossil fuel, power generation, agriculture, industry, polluting water bodies and urban activities are responsible for increasing GHG footprint of which 72% constitute CO2. GHG footprint needs to be in balance with sequestration of carbon to sustain ecosystem functions. Forests are the major carbon sinks (about 45%) that aid in mitigating global warming. The current research focusses on the carbon budgeting through quantification of emissions and sinks in the forest ecosystems and changes in climatic conditions of Western Ghats. This would help in evolving appropriate mitigation strategies toward sustainable management of forests and mitigate impacts of global warming. The land-use land-cover (LULC) dynamics are the prime driver of climate change due to the loss of carbon sequestration potential as well as emissions. The Western Ghats are one among 36 global biodiversity hotspots and forests in this region sequester atmospheric carbon, which aid in moderating the global climate and sustaining water to ensure water and food security in the peninsular India. Assessment of LULC dynamics using temporal remote sensing data shows the decline of evergreen forest by 5% with an increase in agriculture, plantations and built-up area. The interior or intact forests have declined by 10%, and they are now confined to protected areas. The simulation of likely changes indicates that the region will have only 10% evergreen cover and 17% agriculture, 40% plantations and 5% built-up. Quantification of carbon reveals that the WG forest ecosystem holds 1.23 MGg (million gigagrams or Gt) in vegetation and soils. The annual incremental carbon is about 37,507.3 Gg, (or 37.5 million tons, Mt) and the highest in the forests of Karnataka part of WG. Simulation of the likely changes in carbon content indicates the loss of 0.23 MGg (2018-2031) carbon sequestration potential under business as usual scenario. The conservation scenario depicts an increase in carbon sequestration potential of WG forests with the protection. Sequestered carbon in WG is about INR 100 billion ($1.4 billion) at carbon trading of INR 2142 ($30) per tonne. Large-scale land-cover changes leading to deforestation has contributed to an increase in mean temperature by 0.5 degrees C and decline in rainy days, which necessitates evolving prudent landscape management strategies involving all stakeholders for conservation of ecologically fragile WG. This will enhance the ability of forests to sequester atmospheric carbon and climate moderation, with the sustenance of ecosystem goods and services.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: SPRINGER
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to SPRINGER
Keywords: Carbon sequestration; Western Ghats; Land-use dynamics; Modeling; Climate change
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Division of Interdisciplinary Sciences > Center for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CiSTUP)
Division of Mechanical Sciences > Centre for Sustainable Technologies (formerly ASTRA)
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2019 07:23
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2022 05:23
URI: https://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/64003

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