Soil carbon stocks in Indonesian (agro) forest transitions: Compaction conceals lower carbon concentrations in standard accounting

Soil changes matter for the global carbon (C) balance although belowground response to land use change is slower and less obvious than that aboveground. Impacts of changes from natural forest to a range of intermediate tree-based land uses (‘agroforestry’) and non-tree agriculture remain contested. Standard C-stock accounting for a fixed sampling depth depends on changes in both Corg concentrations and bulk density, often with opposite effects. Confounding factors that, beyond current vegetation, influence Corg (soil texture, minerology, drainage, elevation and soil pH) may also influence bulk density. Because land use may not be random with respect to inherent soil properties, differences in soil C-stock between land uses can have multiple causes. We compiled and analysed data from six landscapes in Indonesia (volcanic and other mineral soils; Sumatra, Kalimantan; Java, Sulawesi) where chronosequences of forest, various agroforestry systems and open-field agriculture had been sampled.