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Mediterranean shrublands carbon sequestration: environmental and economic benefits


  • Loretta Gratani


  • Laura Varone
  • Carlo Ricotta
  • Rosangela Catoni


To date, only a few attempts have been done to estimate the contribution of Mediterranean ecosystems to the global carbon cycle. Within this context, shrub species, composition and structure of the Mediterranean shrublands developing along the Latium coast (Italy) were analyzed in order to evaluate their contribution to carbon (C) sequestration, also taking into consideration the economic benefits at a national level. The considered shrublands had a shrub density of 1,200 ± 500 shrubs ha −1 . Shrubs were classified into small (S), medium (M) and large (L), according to their volume (V) and leaf area index (LAI). The total yearly carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) sequestration per species (SC y ) was calculated multiplying the total photosynthetic leaf surface area (spt) of each species by the mean yearly photosynthetic rate and the total yearly photosynthetic activity time (in hours). Q. ilex and A. unedo had the highest SC y (46.2 ± 15.8 kg CO 2 year −1 , mean value), followed by P. latifolia (17.5 ± 6.2 kg CO 2 year −1 ), E. arborea, E. multiflora, C. incanus, P. lentiscus, R. officinalis, and S. aspera (6.8 ± 4.2 kg CO 2 year −1 , mean value). The total yearly CO 2 sequestration per shrub (SC shy ) was 149 ± 5 kg CO 2 year −1 in L, decreasing 30 % in M and 80 % in S shrubs. Taking into account the frequency of S, M and L and their SC shy , the total CO 2 sequestration of the Mediterranean maquis was quantified in 80 Mg CO 2 ha −1 year −1 , corresponding to 22 Mg C ha −1 year −1 . From a monetary viewpoint, this quantity could be valued to more than 500 US$ ha −1 year −1 . Extending this benefit to the Mediterranean shrublands throughout the whole country, we obtained a nationwide estimated annual benefit in the order of $500 million. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Loretta Gratani & Laura Varone & Carlo Ricotta & Rosangela Catoni, 2013. "Mediterranean shrublands carbon sequestration: environmental and economic benefits," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 18(8), pages 1167-1182, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:masfgc:v:18:y:2013:i:8:p:1167-1182
    DOI: 10.1007/s11027-012-9415-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Torres, Arturo Balderas & Marchant, Rob & Lovett, Jon C. & Smart, James C.R. & Tipper, Richard, 2010. "Analysis of the carbon sequestration costs of afforestation and reforestation agroforestry practices and the use of cost curves to evaluate their potential for implementation of climate change mitigat," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 469-477, January.
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