, Volume 64, Issue 1-2, pp 229-249

Forest fertilization: Its potential to increase the CO2 storage capacity and to alleviate the decline of the global forests

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Abstract

Healthy forests are essential for life on earth. Their multiple benefits include sustainable production of wood and other products, soil protection, air and water purification, wildlife habitat, noise control, various types of recreation, but also climate regulation and CO2 storage. Owing to man-made influences, forests have been endangered since a long time. In various parts of the world these adverse impacts are now representing a risk for human life. For example, the still increasing destruction of tropical and subtropical forests leads to detrimental soil erosion problems and great losses of soil fertility including soil C. Furthermore, atmospheric pollution brought about forest declines in Europe, North America and elsewhere. In order to overcome these and related problems a variety of efforts have been established. In commercial forests of the temperate/boreal zones forest management practices including fertilization regimes focusing on sustainably increasing yields have been utilized for several centuries. However, new management strategies are under research and/or have been implemented in these forest ecosystems to mitigate the so called new types of forest damage. As these declines are frequently associated with nutritional disturbances fertilizer applications have proven useful when conducted properly. Agro-forestry is one approach to reduce the further deterioration of tropical/subtropical forests. Also rehabilitation of devastated land ist partly concentrated on afforestation. With the ever increasing demands of a fast growing human population and increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, proper multi-purpose forestry on a permanent or short rotation basis or in the wide realm of agro-forestry is essential for mankind. In many cases adequate forest management will only be possible when soil fertility is restored and/or maintained through fertilization/manuring considering the demand of a specific forest stand/system under specific site conditions.

Clearly, also the potential to increase the CO2 storage capacity of forests is often limited by insufficient nutrient availability. However, in general this site specific limitation can be overcome easily by proper nutrient supplementation.