Plantation type and age strongly influence the quantity of carbon stored in forest ecosystems. The marked increase in total ecosystem carbon stock achieved over time by the Eucalyptus and Acacia plantations has confirmed that the afforestation of degraded soils can contribute positively to carbon sequestration.
Context Reforestation has been widely conducted to restore and protect the eroded red soil in south China in recent decades. The question as to whether the content of soil organic carbon (SOC) can be boosted by establishing plantations of fast-growing tree species remains unresolved.
Aims We addressed whether the afforestation of degraded soils can contribute positively to carbon sequestration, and whether the accumulation of SOC is more effective under a nitrogen fixing species such as Acacia than under Eucalyptus.
Methods Here, a study was undertaken to measure the quantity of total ecosystem carbon (TEC) accumulated by plantations of both Eucalyptus and Acacia spp. in the Pearl River Delta region of southern China.
Results The quantity of TEC increased significantly with stand age in both plantation types (P < 0.05). The largest single component of TEC was SOC, with stand age having a considerable effect on both SOC and overall biomass. The accumulation of SOC in the top 100 cm of the soil profile was higher under Acacia than under Eucalyptus (P < 0.05).
Conclusion In terms of carbon sequestration, the afforestation of Eucalyptus and Acacia represent an effective forest management practice. The accumulation of SOC is more effective under Acacia than under Eucalyptus.
Total ecosystem carbon, Forest type, Stand age, Biomass, Soil organic carbon
Zhang, H., Duan, H., Song, M. et al. Annals of Forest Science (2018) 75: 40.
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