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Long-term dynamics of cocoa agroforestry systems established on lands previously occupied by savannah or forests

Nijmeijer A., Lauri P.E., Harmand J.M., Freschet G.T., Essobo Nieboukaho J.D., Kenfack Fogang P., Enock S., Saj S.. 2019. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 275 : p. 100-111.

DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2019.02.004

Cocoa agroforestry systems (cAFS) in Central Cameroon are established on lands which were either forest or savannah. The functioning and ecosystem services (ES) delivery of an agroecosystem can be influenced by past land-use. We hypothesised that savannah-derived cocoa agroforestry systems (S-cAFS) and forest-derived cocoa agroforestry systems (F-cAFS) would (i) progressively drift away from past land-use, and (ii) eventually converge and support comparable levels of ecosystem services. We selected 25 ecosystem attributes directly related to at least one of the following six ecosystem (dis)services (ES): species conservation, carbon storage, crop production, nutrient cycling, soil quality and soil pollution. We followed their temporal evolution in S- and F-cAFS along >70-year chronosequences. Our results showed that the attributes and services studied followed typical temporal trajectories in S- and F-cAFS while generally tending to reach comparable levels on the long run. However, the time needed to do so varied strongly and ranged from 20 to 30 years for perennial species diversity to more than 70 years for C storage or some components of soil quality. The results also demonstrated that S-cAFS could sustainably improve many of the studied attributes and ES. Regarding the attributes related to the cocoa stand, both S- and F-cAFS seemed influenced by their previous land-use up until 15 and 30 years, respectively, after their establishment. With respect to soil quality, nutrient cycling and carbon storage, only S-cAFS could be significantly distinguished from their past land-use, after 15 to 30 years.

Mots-clés : theobroma cacao; agroforesterie; services écosystémiques; fertilité du sol; savane; cameroun

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