Environmental degradation resulting from long-term drought and land use change has affected terrestrial carbon (C) stocks within Africa's Sahel. We estimated Senegal's terrestrial carbon stocks in 1965, 1985, and 2000 using an inventory procedure involving satellite images revealing historical land use change, and recent field measurements of standing carbon stocks occurring in soil and plants. Senegal was divided into eight ecological zones containing 11 land uses. In 2000, savannas, cultivated lands, forests, and steppes were the four largest land uses in Senegal, occupying 70, 22, 2.7, and 2.3 percent of Senegal's 199,823km2. System C stocks ranged from 9tCha-1 in degraded savannas in the north, to 113tCha-1 in the remnant forests of the Senegal River Valley. This approach resulted in estimated total C stocks of 1019 and 727MTC between 1965 and 2000, respectively, indicating a loss of 292MTC over 35 years. The proportion of C residing in biomass decreased with time, from 55 percent in 1965 to 38 percent in 2000. Calculated terrestrial C flux for 1993 was -7.5MTCyear-1 and had declined by 17 percent over the previous 18 years. Most of the terrestrial C flux in 1993 was attributed to biomass C reduction. Human disturbance accounted for only 22 percent of biomass C loss in 1993, suggesting that the effects of long-term Sahelian drought continue to play an overriding role in ecosystem change. Some carbon mitigation strategies for Senegal were investigated, including potential C sequestration levels. Opportunities for C mitigation exist but are constrained by available knowledge and access to resources. ?? 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Land use change and terrestrial carbon stocks in Senegal