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Indigenous Sacred Forests as a Tool for Climate Change Mitigation: Lessons from Gedeo Community, Southern Ethiopia

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Sacred forests are patches of remnant natural forests, protected through social laws by the local communities near their villages and are always dedicated to cultural purposes. They are playing a significant role in combating climate change and informal enhancing biodiversity conservation. The aim of this study was to estimate carbon stocks of sacred forests by quantifying the aboveground biomass (AGB), and belowground (BGB) carbon of trees. The estimation of carbon stocks was conducted across the three sacred forests of Bolocho sacred forest (BSF), Ejjerissa sacred forest (ESF), and Amba sacred forest (ASF). A total of 30 plots: 10 BSF, 10 ESF, and 10 ASF were sampled and trees with DBH ≥5 cm and a height of ≥3 m was considered for biomass-carbon determination. We compared tree biomass, carbon stocks, stem densities, basal area, and importance value index of trees. Nondestructive methods of woody species biomass measurement was used by using allometric equations developed for application in tropical forests and/ or agroforestry system. A total of 4216 individuals representing 87 different species and 44 families were recorded. Statistical the highest stem density was recorded. Total biomass considered as AGB+BGB, which is highest for ASF followed by ESF and BSF (one way ANOVA, F = 98.66, df, 2, p < .001). The estimated amount of AGB across the three sacred forests were (505 Mg ha−1), (267 Mg ha−1) and (202 Mg ha−1) in ASF, ESF, and BSF, respectively. Total biomass stored, both aboveground and belowground (AGB+BGB) significantly higher for ASF (637 Mg ha−1) followed by ESF (338 Mg ha−1) and BSF (255 Mg ha−1). Total biomass carbon (C) was 318.5 Mg C ha−1 for ASF, 169 Mg C ha−1 for ESF, and 127.5 Mg C ha−1 for BSF. From the present study, it can be concluded that, sacred forests and indigenous way of forest protection has playing an enormous roles in carbon sequestration. Perhaps it could be accepted as best practices in climate change (CC) mitigation and reducing deforestation. Hence, it needs urge calls for an immediate attention for conservation, protections and documentation of indigenous knowledge.

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    Maru, Y.; Gebrekirstos, A.; Haile, G.




    primary forests, climate change, mitigation, aboveground biomass, conservation, plant ecology



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