Soil profile pits, carbon and vegetation data of an old Anogeissus grove in Mole National Park, Ghana

Logah, Vincent; Abubakari, Farida; Issifu, Hamza; Adjei-Gyapong, Thomas; Baidoo, Emmanuel; Abubakari, Awudu; Okonkwo, Gerard; Hamelink, Jaap; Pyck, Maaike; Ocansey, Caleb Melenya; Tetteh, Erasmus Narteh; Ametsitsi, George; Veenendaal, Elmar


Formation of forest islands in West Africa has been linked to anthropogenic soil improvement resulting in luxuriant tree growth in otherwise open savanna landscapes. However, there is limited understanding of how such unique ecosystems modulate soil carbon (C) dynamics and nutrient cycling. In this study, we report soil nutrient characteristics and two distinct soil organic carbon pools of Anogeissus grove (forest island) associated with abandoned village sites of the Mole National Park in the Guinea savanna or tropical continental climatic zone of Ghana, taking opportunity of a previously published study in Biotropica in 1978. We compared present-day differences in soil characteristics between the previously studied forest grove and adjoining open savanna in the Park and evaluated vegetation dynamics since first measurement in 1974. Overall, we see changes related to self-thinning and expansion of the grove on a decadal timescale. Soil organic matter and available phosphorus contents were greater in the grove and increased by 19.6 and 18.7%, respectively over time, showing persistence after four decades. Mineral associated organic carbon (MAOC) differed significantly (p<0.05) between the vegetation types, being 3.44% in the grove and 2.34% in the savanna. The grove was ca. 25% greater in particulate organic carbon (POC) content than the savanna. In both vegetation types, >55% of carbon was stabilized in the mineral fraction. Our study demonstrates long-term human impacts on soil and vegetation and offers a clear nature-based solution for climate change mitigation through sustainable land management by indigenous people towards achievement of the ‘4p1000’ initiative.