Global climate change and tropical ecosystems

Global climate change and tropical ecosystems

Book reÕiews 165 Huang and Y.-C. Lu., a case study is presented in Chapter 17 Ž Examples and case studies of beneficial reuse of municipal by-produc...

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Book reÕiews

165

Huang and Y.-C. Lu., a case study is presented in Chapter 17 Ž Examples and case studies of beneficial reuse of municipal by-products, by N.T. Basta. , whereas information on beneficial effects and environmental concerns associated with biosolids is spread over 12 of the 22 chapters. Due to this structure, it is not always easy to maintain an overview, especially for a reader new to the subject. However, a good subject index at the end of this book helps the reader to find related contents. Land application of different kinds of by-products is a complex topic and requires multidisciplinary co-operation. This book is a good example for promoting communication among experts working in related areas. In general, the text is clear and easy to understand. I recommend this book for postgraduate students, researchers, consultants, and municipal officials who are interested in getting a good overview over land application of by-products. Qinglan Wu Institute for Soil and Water Sciences, Agricultural UniÕersity of Norway, ˚ Norway P.O. Box 5028, 1432-As, E-mail address: wu – [email protected] PII: S 0 0 1 6 - 7 0 6 1 Ž 0 1 . 0 0 1 1 8 - 5

Global climate change and tropical ecosystems Edited by R. Lal, J.M. Kimble and B.A. Stewart. CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2000. Hardbound, 438 pp. ISBN 1566704855. GBP47 The title of this volume is somewhat misleading. The content of the book deals very little with ecosystems, and only slightly with global change; the principal topic is storage of carbon in tropical soils, vegetation and agricultural systems. The book originated from a workshop on this topic, held in Belem in 1997. Fifteen of the 23 contributed chapters deal predominantly with inventories of the amount of soil organic carbon in various parts of the tropical world, at scales ranging from individual farms to large regions. Many also provide case studies of the changes in soil carbon following changes in land management, and a few discuss the processes that may be involved, but not in much depth. The single chapter in the section on basic soil process and carbon dynamics is somewhat dated in its approach, following a physico-chemical view of soil carbon pools and their turnover, rather than an ecological approach. The coverage of non-soil carbon pools, where it occurs, is generally much sparser and less accurate than the coverage for soils. The link between tropical ecosystem carbon and climate change is via the estimate that about 15% of the present net human impact on global greenhouse

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Book reÕiews

gas budgets is estimated to originate from land use changes in the tropics. The Clean Development Mechanism ŽCDM. of the Kyoto Protocol for reducing greenhouse gas emissions has stimulated the hope that tropical ecosystems could be managed to take up carbon rather than release it. The crucial questions are whether the tropical ecosystems can do so while simultaneously providing food, fibre, biodiversity protection and all the other goods and services expected of them; whether a financial mechanism can be designed to make it beneficial to the land manager to store carbon; and whether the carbon uptake can be cost-effectively verified. The book provides some data to address the last question. This volume makes a commendable effort to include material from tropical South America, Africa, Australasia and Southeast Asia, but is not comprehensive. Like most compilations resulting from invited papers, it is patchy in quality, content and coverage. The basic question is not significantly advanced by the material presented: how much carbon is there in the tropics and how much could there be? The data offered are either representations of global estimates that have been around for many years, or new-data for a small subset of the global tropics, using a variety of different inventory techniques which cannot be readily compared. The most useful contributions deal with sampling and analysis methods. Accuracy and efficiency of estimation of carbon stocks are two of the key issues that have argued against the inclusion of Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry in the Kyoto Protocol, and especially the CDM. The studies presented here tend to confirm the pessimistic view that an unaffordable level of effort would be needed to measure carbon stocks sufficiently accurately for this purpose. The chapter on remote sensing, pedon databases and neural networks is too superficial to do real justice to these approaches, and the chapters on boundary layer flux methods have been treated better elsewhere. The book illustrates the large gap between the current state-of-the-science and what would be needed to satisfy the expectations of a carbon trading regime. Unfortunately, the final section on research and development priorities is an unprioritised shopping list, already out of date in this fast-moving field. The volume is a useful source for researchers directly involved in issues related to tropical carbon pools and fluxes. It is too specialist, too patchy and not sufficiently original or process-based to be of wide interest to a general ecological, pedological or agronomic readership. R.J. Scholes CSIR, EnÕironment and Forest Technology, DiÕision of Water, P.O. Box 395, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa E-mail address: [email protected] PII: S 0 0 1 6 - 7 0 6 1 Ž 0 1 . 0 0 1 1 9 - 7