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Management strategies for maximizing carbon storage and tree species diversity in cocoa-growing landscapes

Wade, Amy S.I., Asase, Alex, Hadley, Paul, Mason, John, Ofori-Frimpong, Kwesi, Preece, David, Spring, Nat, Norris, Ken
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2010 v.138 no.3-4 pp. 324-334
Theobroma cacao, cocoa products, agroecosystems, forest trees, species diversity, land management, crop management, crop yield, carbon sequestration, landscapes, intensive farming, extensive farming, biodiversity, ecosystem services, tropics
How do we manage the trade-offs between agricultural yields, biodiversity and ecosystem services? One option is to adopt high yield, intensive farming that allows land to be spared elsewhere for conservation (land sparing); another is to adopt low yield, extensive farming over a greater area that retains more biodiversity and protects ecosystem services (wildlife-friendly farming). We examine which is likely to be the best option to achieve high carbon storage and tree species richness in tropical cocoa-growing landscapes. Increased management intensity explained higher yield and in turn this explained a reduction in carbon storage and species richness. Substantial differences in species richness between forest and cocoa farms suggested that land sparing would conserve more tree species than wildlife-friendly farming. The optimal strategy for carbon storage depends on the cocoa yield in the wildlife-friendly farming system. At low cocoa yields, wildlife-friendly farming is the best option; whereas at higher yields land sparing is best. Our results suggest that the best land management strategy for biodiversity and ecosystem services might differ depending on details of the farming systems involved. Management of the trade-offs between agriculture, biodiversity and ecosystem services in tropical forest landscapes needs to consider current and expected future yields.