How strongly can forest management influence soil carbon sequestration?

Jandl, R. et al., 2007. Geoderma

Meta-analysis
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Abstract

We reviewed the experimental evidence for long-term carbon (C) sequestration in soils as consequence of specific forest management strategies. Utilization of terrestrial C sinks alleviates the burden of countries which are committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Land-use changes such as those which result from afforestation and management of fast-growing tree species, have an immediate effect on the regional rate of C sequestration by incorporating carbon dioxide (CO2) in plant biomass. The potential for such practices is limited in Europe by environmental and political constraints. The management of existing forests can also increase C sequestration, but earlier reviews found conflicting evidence regarding the effects of forest management on soil C pools. We analyzed the effects of harvesting, thinning, fertilization application, drainage, tree species selection, and control of natural disturbances on soil C dynamics. We focused on factors that affect the C input to the soil and the C release via decomposition of soil organic matter (SOM). The differentiation of SOM into labile and stable soil C fractions is important. There is ample evidence about the effects of management on the amount of C in the organic layers of the forest floor, but much less information about measurable effects of management on stable C pools in the mineral soil. The C storage capacity of the stable pool can be enhanced by increasing the productivity of the forest and thereby increasing the C input to the soil. Minimizing the disturbances in the stand structure and soil reduces the risk of unintended C losses. The establishment of mixed species forests increases the stability of the forest and can avoid high rates of SOM decomposition. The rate of C accumulation and its distribution within the soil profile differs between tree species. Differences in the stability of SOM as a direct species effect have not yet been reported.

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