Changes in landscape and ecosystem services. Agricultural abandonment and soil organic carbon variation

Keywords: landscape, ecosystem services, agricultural abandonment,soil organic carbon, Beira Transmontana


Changes in landscape and ecosystem services. Agricultural abandonment and variation in soil organic carbon Soil organic carbon (SOC) contributes to improving the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil and supply several goods and services of production, regulation and support, which interfere on human health and well-being. This study aim to analyse plant succession processes following the agricultural abandonment and the respective effect on the organic carbon variation in the surface soil layer, in the southern part of Beira Transmontana. The results show that the process of agricultural abandonment promotes an increase in the COS content, which is irrelevant when the vegetation cover is incipient, dominated by herbaceous communities, and more than doubles when there is the establishment of shrub or oak dominated communities (+ 139% and 108%, respectively, compared to soils with arable crops). Despite this increase of carbon in the soil, these communities only contain around half of the SOC obtained for oak woodlands, representative of the native vegetation. Thus, proper soil management, following abandonment, can be a good option to improve its quality and a good strategic measure for carbon sequestration.


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