, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 49-57
Date: 08 Mar 2009

The impact of land use/cover change on storage and quality of soil organic carbon in midsubtropical mountainous area of southern China

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Abstract

Land use/cover change (LUCC) is widely recognized as one of the most important driving forces of global carbon cycles. The influence of converting native forest into plantations, secondary forest, orchard and arable land on stores and quality of soil organic carbon (SOC) was investigated in mid-subtropical mountainous area of southern China. The results showed that LUCC had led to great decreases in SOC stocks and quality. Considerable SOC and light-fraction organic carbon (LFOC) had been stored in the native forest (142.2 t hm−2 and 14.8 t hm−2 respectively). When the native forest was converted to plantations, secondary forest, orchard and arable land, the SOC stocks decreased by 25.6%, 28.7%, 38.0%, 31.8% and 51.2%, respectively. The LFOC stocks decreased by 52.2% to 57.2% when the native forest was converted to woodland plantations and secondary forest, and by 82.1% to 84.2% when converted to economic plantation, orchard and arable land. After the conversion, the ratios of LFOC to SOC (0–60 cm) decreased from 13.3% to about 3.0% to 10.7%. The SOC and LFOC stored at the upper 20 cm were more sensitive to LUCC when compared to the subsurface soil layer. Also, the decline in carbon storage induced by LUCC was greater than the global average level, it could be explained by the vulnerable natural environment and special human management practices. Thus, it is wise to enhance soil carbon sequestration, mitigate elevated atmospheric CO2 and develop ecological services by protecting vulnerable environment, restoring vegetation coverage, and afforesting in mountainous area in mid-subtropics.

Foundation: Supported by the Key Project of Ministry of Education of China, No.JA04166
Author: Yang Yusheng (1964–), Professor, specialized in carbon and nitrogen cycles of forest.