Recovery of forest carbon density and carbon storage in a soil-degraded landscape in southeastern China

  • Kaijian Xu
  • Chung-Te ChangEmail author
  • Qingjiu TianEmail author
  • Hongda Zeng
  • Jinsheng Xie
Original Paper


Adaptive managements on susceptible forested regions not only benefit forest recovery, but also help to improve the stability of soil-degraded area and carbon (C) sequestration. The gain of afforestation on C sink has not been addressed clearly especially in tropical and subtropical regions that will be critical in an era of global warming. Based on the Landsat satellite images, in situ forest survey and archives, we analyzed the spatiotemporal patterns of C density and storage in a typical soil–water conservation area in Changting county in southeastern China, dominated by the pioneer tree Pinus massoniana forest. The results showed that the C density (storage) increased significantly from 20.14 Mg C ha−1 (0.38 Tg C) in 1981 to 43.57 Mg C ha−1 (1.98 Tg C) in 2015 (p < 0.05) and proved the success of ecological management adopted considering the interactions between local residential livelihoods and the features of local forest ecosystem. In addition, the differences of C density and storage across elevational and slope gradients also narrowed over the past 35 years. The landscape also gradually shifted from lower C density to higher C density conditions based on the landscape metrics. The ecological-dominated approaches should be put in a high priority for the issue of C sequestration especially in a changing climate.


Red soil eroded area Ecological restoration Pinus massoniana Forest carbon density Carbon storage Ecological governance 



We are grateful to the Soil and Water Conservation, the Statistics Bureau, and the Forestry Bureau of Changting county for providing valuable data and the assistances in the field work. We also thank Prof. T.C. Lin of National Taiwan Normal University for his valuable comments on this manuscript. This study was supported by grants from the National Key R&D Program of China (Grant No. 2017YFD0600903), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41771370) and High-resolution Earth Observation Project of China (Grant No. 03-Y20A04-9001-17/18, 30-Y20A07-9003-17/18). CT Chang acknowledges the support from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (MOST 105-2410-H-029-056-MY3).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Institute for Earth System ScienceNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Department of Life ScienceTunghai UniversityTaichungTaiwan
  3. 3.Center for Ecology and EnvironmentTunghai UniversityTaichungTaiwan
  4. 4.College of Geographical SciencesFujian Normal UniversityFuzhouChina

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