Urban food forestry transforms fine-scale soil function for rapid and uniform carbon sequestration

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-023-01384-2. This is version 2 of this Preprint.

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Steven Bressan, Joseph McWilliams, Erika Díaz-Almeyda, Brad Oberle


Urbanization displaces agriculture and natural ecosystems, constraining food security and carbon (C) sinks. A proposed solution, Urban Food Forestry (UFF), promises local food from trees that can sequester C faster than other land cover types as long as soil function improves. We compared fine-scale variation in soil physical, chemical and biological properties within and between UFF and traditional lawn for evidence of changes in belowground ecosystem services. Both land covers sequestered C, but UFF did so nearly an order of magnitude faster, especially in upper soil strata where soil bulk density fell by 50% and microbial activity increased by an order of magnitude. Species richness of both soil fungi and bacteria increased along with nutrient concentrations. Contrary to expectations, that different tree traits would drive increasing fine scale variability in C density, soils beneath the UFF became more uniform, which is consistent with the rapid emergence of system-level regulation. Soil C mass balance may distinguish forests from collections of trees and determine how long UFF helps cities store their carbon and eat it too.




Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Life Sciences, Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


agroforestry, carbon sequestration, soil health, urban agriculture, urban ecology


Published: 2022-03-21 13:05

Last Updated: 2023-05-23 19:21

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Data and Code Availability Statement:
Data will be made available upon acceptance by a peer-reviewed publication