Tropical landscapes are generally known to store much carbon in its varied ecosystems, but information required to prioritize and conserve areas with much soil carbon concentration is scanty. This study provides insight on the patterns of carbon storage and its dynamics in an extensive humid zone in SE Nigeria. Soil carbon data was downloaded from soil grids of 250 m carbon stocks for the first 30 cm of the soil profile and compared with the land use/cover, geology and digital elevation model of the region. Carbon estimates varied over the four epochs used and ranged from 29-177, 29-172, 12-172 and 4-177 tons/ha in 1992, 2001, 2010 and 2018, respectively. Even though land cover variation was quite distinct in the zone (between the northern zone with much cover and the southern zone with less), it was not seen as the major factor that influenced soil carbon in the zone. Much of the explanations on carbon concentration and variability were mainly from the geology of the zone which is categorized into six major classes. But three out of the categories were seen to dominate the carbon store: Ajali formation, Mamu formation and Nsukka formation. This exogenous factor (geology), which is not uniform, was seen as the major variable to consider in deciding areas that will be prioritized for carbon conservation in the zone. Proper land use strategies and policy frameworks that would help to maintain proper baselines and further enhance adequate carbon conservation were equally recommended.
Key words: Carbon management, conservation, land use change, modified ecosystems, prioritization, tropical.
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