Plant and Soil

, Volume 362, Issue 1–2, pp 187–200 | Cite as

Carbon sequestration and soil fertility of tropical tree plantations and secondary forest established on degraded land

  • Phan Minh SangEmail author
  • David Lamb
  • Mark Bonner
  • Susanne Schmidt
Regular Article



Much tropical land requires rehabilitation but the capacity of reforestation with plantations or naturally regenerating secondary forests for overcoming soil degradation remains unclear. We hypothesised that desirable effects, including improved soil fertility and carbon sequestration, are achieved to a greater extent in Acacia mangium plantations and secondary forests than in Eucalyptus urophylla plantations.


We tested our hypothesis across soil and climate gradients in Vietnam with linear mixed-effect models and other, comparing A. mangium and E. urophylla plantations, secondary forests and pasture.


A. mangium plantations and secondary forests showed a positive correlation between biomass production and desirable soils properties including increased soil carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, and reduced bulk density. All plantations, but not secondary forests, caused increases in soil acidity. Eight-year old A. mangium plantations contained most carbon in biomass+soil, and secondary forests and pastures had similar or higher soil carbon. E. urophylla plantations had the lowest soil carbon status, raising doubt about their sequestration capacity in current 6–8 year rotations.


The study demonstrates that appropriate reforestation enhances soil fertility and promotes carbon sequestration on degraded tropical lands and that unmanaged secondary forests are effective at improving soil fertility and sequestering carbon at low cost.


Acacia mangium Eucalyptus urophylla Land rehabilitation Soil restoration Aboveground biomass Land use 



Mean annual increment of plantation aboveground volume



We thank collaborators at Vietnamese Academy of Forest Sciences and Vietnam Forestry University: Nguyen Van Thinh, Senior Lecturer Hoang Xuan Y and his students for help with sampling. We wish to thank Dr Laslo Pancel (GIZ) for his substantial support. Financial support for this study was provided by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and Australian Centre of International Agriculture Research (ACIAR), neither of which had any involvement in experimental design or other scientific matters of this project. Advice on statistical methods and R skill for analysing data were provided by Dr Simon Blomberg and Dr Ilyas Siddique from the University of Queensland. Part of the data used in this study is common with that of a research project on re-development of volume, site classes and yield tables of tree plantations funded by the Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development of Vietnam for the period 2010–2012.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phan Minh Sang
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Lamb
    • 2
  • Mark Bonner
    • 3
  • Susanne Schmidt
    • 3
  1. 1.Silviculture Research InstituteVietnamese Academy of Forest SciencesHa NoiVietnam
  2. 2.Centre for Mined Land RehabilitationThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Agriculture and Food ScienceThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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