Agricultural land abandonment in Mediterranean environment provides ecosystem services via soil carbon sequestration

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Abandonment of agricultural land leads to several consequences for ecosystem functions. Agricultural abandonment may be a significant and low cost strategy for carbon sequestration and mitigation of anthropogenic CO2 emissions due to the vegetation recovery and increase in soil organic matter. The aim of this study was to: (i) estimate the influence of different Soil Regions (areas characterized by a typical climate and parent material association) and Bioclimates (zones with homogeneous climatic regions and thermotype indices) on soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics after agricultural land abandonment; and (ii) to analyse the efficiency of the agri-environment policy (agri-environment measures) suggested by the European Commission in relation to potential SOC stock ability in the Sicilian Region (Italy). In order to quantify the effects of agricultural abandonment on SOC, a dataset with original data that was sampled in Sicily and existing data from the literature were analysed according to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) methodology. Results showed that abandonment of cropland soils increased SOC stock by 9.03 Mg C ha− 1 on average, ranging from 5.4 Mg C ha− 1 to 26.7 Mg C ha− 1 in relation to the Soil Region and Bioclimate. The estimation of SOC change after agricultural use permitted calculation of the payments for ecosystem service (PES) of C sequestration after agricultural land abandonment in relation to environmental benefits, increasing in this way the efficiency of PES. Considering the 14,337 ha of abandoned lands in Sicily, the CO2 emission as a whole was reduced by 887,745 Mg CO2. Therefore, it could be concluded that abandoned agricultural fields represents a valid opportunity to mitigate agriculture sector emissions in Sicily.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)420-429
Numero di pagine10
RivistaScience of the Total Environment
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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  • ???subjectarea.asjc.2300.2311???
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