Part III Managing Natural Sinks of CO2

Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 83-120

First online:

Effects of forest management on soil carbon storage

  • Dale W. JohnsonAffiliated withDesert Research InstituteDepartment of Range, Wildlife, and Forestry College of Agriculture, University of Nevada, Reno

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The literature on soil C change with forest harvesting, cultivation, site preparation, burning, fertilization, N fixation, and species change is reviewed. No general trend toward lower soil C with forest harvesting was apparent, unless harvesting is followed by intense burning or cultivation. Most studies show no significant change (± 10%) with harvesting only, a few studies show large net losses, and a few studies show a net gain following harvesting. Cultivation, on the other hand, results in a large (up to 50%) loss in soil C in most (but not all) cases. Low-intensity rescribed fire usually results in little change in soil C, but intense presribed fire or wildfire can result in a large loss of soil C. Species change can have either no effect or large effects on soil C, depending primarily upon rooting patterns. Fertilization and (especially) nitrogen fixation cause increases in soil C in the majority of cases, and represent an opportunity for sequestering soil C and causing long-term improvements in site fertility.