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Indications that site preparation increases forest ecosystem carbon stocks in the long term

Journal article
Authors Kristina Mjöfors
Monika Strömgren
Hans Örjan Nohrstedt
Maj Britt Johansson
Annemieke I. Gärdenäs
Published in Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
Volume 32
Issue 8
Pages 717-725
ISSN 0282-7581
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 717-725
Language en
Keywords Carbon sequestration, disc trenching, ecosystem, mounding, soil, tree biomass
Subject categories Forest Science, Soil Science, Other Agricultural Sciences, Environmental Sciences


Mechanical site preparation (MSP) causes a mixing disturbance of the soil, which may increase decomposition of soil organic matter and subsequent carbon (C) dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. MSP also promotes the establishment and growth of tree seedlings, and hence ecosystem C fixation. However, there are uncertainties regarding the net effects of MSP on C stocks at the ecosystem scale. To assess decennial effects of MSP on ecosystem C stocks, C stocks in soil, ground vegetation and trees at three experimental forest sites with Pinus contorta, Pinus sylvestris and Picea abies in Sweden were sampled and measured for ca. 25 years in a control and after three MSP treatments: disc trenching, mounding and ploughing. After 25 years, all of the MSP treatments resulted in larger ecosystem C stocks than the control treatment due to positive effects on the tree biomass C stock. The tree C stock was highest after ploughing, intermediate after mounding or disc trenching and lowest in untreated control plots at all experimental sites. The MSP treatments did not affect the soil C stocks down to 30 cm. We recommend mounding or disc trenching to promote C sequestration as they disturb sites’ ecological, aesthetic and recreation values less than ploughing.

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