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Trade-off between soil water maintenance and carbon sequestration during the implementation of ecological restoration programs in semi-arid Loess Plateau
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  • Binbin Li,
  • Panpan Li,
  • GuoBin Liu,
  • Ming-xiang Xu
Binbin Li
Chinese Academy of Sciences
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Panpan Li
Northwest A&F University
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GuoBin Liu
State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dry land Farming
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Ming-xiang Xu
State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dry land Farming
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Converting degraded ecosystems into perennial vegetation in water-limited regions creates potentially conflicting demands for soil water maintenance and carbon sequestration. Current understanding of these competing demands remains still limited. In this study, to quantify the trade-off between them resulting from land-use conversion (converting cropland into forest, shrub and grassland usually) in the Loess Plateau, 2775 observations for soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks (to a depth of 100 cm) and 2654 observations for soil water storage (SWS) (to a depth of 500 cm) from peer-reviewed papers and measured data were synthesized. Results showed that (1) Land-use conversion influenced the trade-off greatly, and in general, converting cropland into natural grassland and evergreen trees performed relatively better in carbon sequestration and soil water maintenance; (2) In rainfall zone less than 550 mm, natural grassland exhibited higher capability in increasing SOC stock but maintaining a lower SWS depletion while forest was a better choice in rainfall greater than 550 mm; (3) With restoration age increasing, SOC stock and SWS depletion both increased significantly, and nevertheless natural grassland appeared to be sustainable and stable to achieve a win-win result. Moreover, with ages increasing, an accumulation of 0.7 Mg ha-1 SOC stock in the upper 100 cm was associated with an approximately 5.14 mm SWS decrease in the 0-500 cm soil layers. Overall, this study provides practical insights for land and water managers on how to achieve the win-win results between soil- and water- related ecosystem services during ecological restoration in water-limited regions.