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International Journal of Forestry Research
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 5812043, 8 pages
Research Article

Biomass and Soil Carbon Stocks in Wet Montane Forest, Monteverde Region, Costa Rica: Assessments and Challenges for Quantifying Accumulation Rates

1Environmental Science Systems, Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY 13214, USA
2Monteverde Institute, Monteverde, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
3Phinizy Center for Water Sciences, Augusta, GA 30906, USA

Received 22 November 2015; Revised 31 January 2016; Accepted 10 February 2016

Academic Editor: Piermaria Corona

Copyright © 2016 Lawrence H. Tanner et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We measured carbon stocks at two forest reserves in the cloud forest region of Monteverde, comparing cleared land, experimental secondary forest plots, and mature forest at each location to assess the effectiveness of reforestation in sequestering biomass and soil carbon. The biomass carbon stock measured in the mature forest at the Monteverde Institute is similar to other measurements of mature tropical montane forest biomass carbon in Costa Rica. Local historical records and the distribution of large trees suggest a mature forest age of greater than 80 years. The forest at La Calandria lacks historical documentation, and dendrochronological dating is not applicable. However, based on the differences in tree size, above-ground biomass carbon, and soil carbon between the Monteverde Institute and La Calandria sites, we estimate an age difference of at least 30 years of the mature forests. Experimental secondary forest plots at both sites have accumulated biomass at lower than expected rates, suggesting local limiting factors, such as nutrient limitation. We find that soil carbon content is primarily a function of time and that altitudinal differences between the study sites do not play a role.