News Climate, Environment, Forestry

Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and Ethiopian Environment and Forest Research Institute (EEFRI) have conducted a pilot soil carbon inventory in Ethiopian forests. The study helped understand how to enhance carbon sinks in Ethiopian forest soils.

The study looked at how soil carbon develops up to 2030 depending on biome and intensity of the forest use. Photo: John Iglar, Pixabay

The study shows that a combination of data and models allows countries to make long term strategies for the land-use sector and to plan policies that help to achieve Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, the study and the methodology presented allows to identify areas where forest soils potentially turn to emission hot spots during deforestation and degradation.

The study looked at how soil carbon develops up to 2030 depending on biome and intensity of the forest use. The soil inventory allowed the researchers to quantify soil carbon stock for the top 30 cm layer for Ethiopian forests by biomes. While, the combination of data and models, like Yasso07 and CENTURY allowed to estimate future development of soil carbon for different biomes.

Results of the work confirmed that average and high soil carbon stock estimates by the FAO soil carbon map (GSOC) agreed well with observations, but the map overestimated soil carbon for forest stands with lower carbon stocks. Results also showed that soil carbon models can be coupled with satellite images in order to estimate soil carbon stocks across the country.

“We found that the most efficient future carbon sinks in forest soils in Ethiopia can be achieved by lowering the rate of forest land degradation and reclamation of a degraded forest thus protecting carbon storage and increasing carbon sink in Moist Afromontane and Dry Afromontane biomes,” says Associate Professor Aleksi Lehtonen from Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).

Ethiopia is fully committed to NDC of the Paris Agreement and plans to limit projected business as usual greenhouse gas emissions of the year 2030 by 145 mill. tonnes of CO2 eq. One of the country’s main measures to achieve the Paris Agreement targets is improved land management and forestry. Achieving climate targets require thorough understanding of current carbon stocks in different land-uses, like forestry. Also, the capacity of alternative land management to sequestrate carbon supports the implementation of national climate policies. The use of soil carbon models has been recently supported also by the IPCC 2019 guidelines for greenhouse gas inventories and the use models allows to make future projections based on different forest management assumptions.

“Our study shows how much emissions can be reduced from forest soils, when forest use is less intensive. This method also allows identifying areas with the highest soil carbon stocks in forests,” says Aleksi Lehtonen.


Aleksi Lehtonen, Boris Ťupek, Tiina M. Nieminen, András Balázs, Agena Anjulo, Mindaye Teshome, Yibeltal Tiruneh, Jukka Alm. 2020. Soil carbon stocks in Ethiopian forests and estimations of their future development under different forest use scenarios. Land Development and Degradation. doi: 10.1002/ldr.3647