Restoration of degraded grasslands, but not invasion by Prosopis juliflora, avoids trade-offs between climate change mitigation and other ecosystem services

Mbaabu, Purity Rima; Olago, Daniel; Gichaba, Maina; Eckert, Sandra; Eschen, René; Oriaso, Silas; Choge, Simon Kosgei; Linders, Theo Edmund Werner; Schaffner, Urs (2020). Restoration of degraded grasslands, but not invasion by Prosopis juliflora, avoids trade-offs between climate change mitigation and other ecosystem services. Scientific reports, 10(1) Springer Nature 10.1038/s41598-020-77126-7

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Grassland degradation and the concomitant loss of soil organic carbon is widespread in tropical arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Afforestation of degraded grassland, sometimes by using invasive alien trees, has been put forward as a legitimate climate change mitigation strategy. However, even in cases where tree encroachment of degraded grasslands leads to increased soil organic carbon, it may come at a high cost since the restoration of grassland-characteristic biodiversity and ecosystem services will be blocked. We assessed how invasion by Prosopis juliflora and restoration of degraded grasslands in a semi-arid region in Baringo, Kenya affected soil organic carbon, biodiversity and fodder availability. Thirty years of grassland restoration replenished soil organic carbon to 1 m depth at a rate of 1.4% per year and restored herbaceous biomass to levels of pristine grasslands, while plant biodiversity remained low. Invasion of degraded grasslands by P. juliflora increased soil organic carbon primarily in the upper 30 cm and suppressed herbaceous vegetation. We argue that, in contrast to encroachment by invasive alien trees, restoration of grasslands in tropical semi-arid regions can both serve as a measure for climate change mitigation and help restore key ecosystem services important for pastoralists and agro-pastoralist communities.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Biodiversity

UniBE Contributor:

Eckert, Sandra and Linders, Theo Edmund Werner

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

2045-2322

Publisher:

Springer Nature

Projects:

[411] Woody invasive alien species in East Africa

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

14 Jan 2021 08:27

Last Modified:

10 Mar 2021 21:24

Publisher DOI:

10.1038/s41598-020-77126-7

Uncontrolled Keywords:

biodiversity; carbon cycle; climate-change mitigation; climate sciences; ecology: ecosystem services; grassland ecology; invasive species

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/148900

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/148900

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