American Forests Co-Authors New Study on the Impacts of Forest Management on Soil Carbon
American Forests is excited to share newly published research on forest soil carbon dynamics. This study, which focuses on the impacts of forest management and disturbance on soil carbon, will help to provide practical guidance for effective forest soil carbon management at localized levels.
The full study is currently available online, and will be released in the upcoming edition of Forest Ecology and Management in September 2019.
We are particularly proud that three American Forests employees have co-authored this study, led by Luke Nave, Associate Research Scientist at the University of Michigan and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS). NIACS is a collaboration of the US Forest Service, universities, forest industry and conservation organizations like American Forests that provides information on managing forests for climate change adaptation and enhanced carbon sequestration. We are excited to share the achievement with our partners for this first-of-its-kind study.
With a focus on Maryland and six ecoregions in the Eastern United States, the study uses a unique combination of meta-analysis and soil observational data to highlight trends that will be useful for forest management and restoration efforts moving forward. The study finds that:
- While impacts depend on landform (like steep slopes) and soil taxonomy, harvests do not significantly influence soil carbon.
- Reforestation accelerates soil carbon recovery.
- Prescribed fire leads to smaller and less variable soil carbon losses than wildfire.
- Specific harvest, site preparation, and fire management practices affect the magnitude and variability of changes in soil carbon.
Soils contain the largest pool of carbon in forests, and understanding soil carbon dynamics is a critical variable in the forest carbon equation. The impact of this study is that it identifies forest management practices with discernible impacts on soil carbon, and provides directional guidance for anticipating those impacts. The study also uses ecoregions and soil orders as frameworks to estimate soil carbon stocks and changes at more localized levels. This combination will allow us to identify beneficial practices for protecting forest soil carbon and understand where they will be most effective.
This also allows for a fresh look at soil’s prospects as a carbon sink and climate mitigation tool.
It is dynamic study and field expertise like this that marks our American Forests team for its leadership in forest conservation. Read more about the study here, and please consider ways in which you, too, can contribute to the efforts of American Forests and our innovative climate change endeavors.