Carbon sequestration in tropical agroforestry systems

Carbon sequestration in tropical agroforestry systems


Agricultural lands are considered to be a major potential carbon sink, especially if trees are re-integrated with crops and/or animal agriculture. However, agroforestry systems are very diverse and are frequently used in small-scale settings, presenting challenges to carbon sequestration estimates.

Research and methods

The study synthesizes data from ten common types of tropical agroforestry systems based on prior field studies. Nine out of ten systems are classified as silvopastoral, with a range of 15-198 Mg C ha-1 sequestration potential, while the system with the greatest potential range, 12-228 Mg C ha-1, is classified as agrosilvicultural. The median value of all ten systems is 95 Mg C ha-1.

Conclusions and takeaways

While agroforestry systems can have a relatively high rate of carbon sequestration, many uncertainties exist as to the rates expected under various systems. Further research is needed on the methodological side – estimation of above- and below-ground C stocks – and to understand pest and yield challenges in these systems.


Albrecht A, Kandji ST. Carbon sequestration in tropical agroforestry systems. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. 2003;99:15–27. doi:10.1016/s0167-8809(03)00138-5.


  • Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), Nairobi, Kenya