Effects of whole-tree harvesting at thinning and subsequent compensatory nutrient additions on carbon sequestration and soil acidification in a boreal forest
GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY BIOENERGY 2020, Early Access
Lim H, Olsson BA, Lundmark T, Dahl J, Nordin A
Residues from forest harvesting operations may be utilized as a renewable energy source. However, the sustainability of this practice has been questioned due to the losses of nutrients and exchangeable base cations, which may impair the forest's carbon sequestration capacity and lead to soil acidification. We report the 18 year response of biomass growth, soil carbon stock and soil chemistry to whole-tree harvest at thinning and associated compensatory measures in a Pinus sylvestrisforest in northern Sweden. The whole-tree harvest at thinning was combined with nutrient additions to compensate for the nutrient loss caused by extracting the residues. Four main treatments, stem-only thinning, whole-tree thinning, whole-tree thinning with one-time nitrogen fertilization and whole-tree thinning with repeated nitrogen fertilization every third year were applied, with plots split for wood-ash treatment. Eighteen years after the treatments, whole-tree thinning that had removed 3.0 +/- 0.2 Mg C/ha in residues had no effect on forest growth, soil carbon and nitrogen stocks or soil chemistry. Both nitrogen fertilization regimes increased biomass growth, but neither one resulted in a significant increase in soil carbon stock. Wood-ash addition increased soil pH and exchangeable base cations, but did not affect carbon stock in biomass or soil. Our long-term data suggest that utilizing harvesting residues for biofuel feedstocks is appropriate in this type of forest. Hence, any nitrogen and wood-ash additions appear unnecessary as compensatory measures for the removal of harvesting residues, but nitrogen can be applied to increase forest growth following thinning.
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