Spatial and temporal patterns of carbon (C) storage in forest ecosystems significantly affect the terrestrial C budget, but such patterns are unclear in the forests in Hainan Province, the largest tropical island in China. Here, we estimated the spatial and temporal patterns of C storage from 1993–2008 in Hainan's forest ecosystems by combining our measured data with four consecutive national forest inventories data. Forest coverage increased from 20.7% in the 1950s to 56.4% in the 2010s. The average C density of 163.7 Mg C/ha in Hainan's forest ecosystems in this study was slightly higher than that of China's mainland forests, but was remarkably lower than that in the tropical forests worldwide. Total forest ecosystem C storage in Hainan increased from 109.51 Tg in 1993 to 279.17 Tg in 2008. Soil C accounted for more than 70% of total forest ecosystem C. The spatial distribution of forest C storage in Hainan was uneven, reflecting differences in land use change and forest management. The potential carbon sequestration of forest ecosystems was 77.3 Tg C if all forested lands were restored to natural tropical forests. To increase the C sequestration potential on Hainan Island, future forest management should focus on the conservation of natural forests, selection of tree species, planting of understory species, and implementation of sustainable practices.
Ren H, Li L, Liu Q, Wang X, Li Y, Hui D, et al. (2014) Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Carbon Storage in Forest Ecosystems on Hainan Island, Southern China. PLoS ONE 9(9): e108163. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0108163