A meta-analysis of changes in soil organic carbon stocks after afforestation with deciduous broadleaved, sempervirent broadleaved, and conifer tree species

Key message
Different tree species have dissimilar capacities to sequester soil organic carbon (SOC). Deciduous broadleaved trees show the most stable increase in SOC stock after afforestation than other tree species, while sempervirent conifer trees show the lowest rate of SOC stock change. Sempervirent broadleaved trees show the greatest increase in SOC stock 20 years after afforestation.

Abstract

Context The rate at which soil organic carbon (SOC) stock changes after afforestation varies considerably with the tree species. A better understanding of the role of tree species in SOC change dynamic is needed to evaluate the SOC sequestration potential of afforestation programs.
Aims The aim of this paper is to identify the dissimilar rates at which different tree species sequester SOC, following afforestation.
Methods We complete a meta-analysis with 544 data points from 261 sites in 90 papers. We group tree species into decidious broadleved, sempervirent broadleaved and sempervirent conifer. We use standardization and/or extrapolation methods to standardize soil depths. Statistical analysis test the main effects of tree species and their interactions with previous land use and plantation age on SOC stock change after afforestation.
Results Deciduous broadleaved trees show a stable increase in SOC stock, and are especially suited for afforestation of grassland or soils with high initial SOC. Sempervirent broadleaved afforestation results in loss of SOC stock in young stands, but greater SOC stock in mature stands. Sempervirent conifer trees show the lowest rate of SOC stock change, but are suitable for nutrient-poor soil.
Conclusion The results emphasize the importance of considering tree species when estimating SOC stock change, in particular when carbon sequestration is an objective of afforestation programs.

Keywords
Soil organic carbon stock change; Afforestation; Deciduous broadleaved; Sempervirent broadleaved; Sempervirent conifer

Publication
Hou, G., Delang, C.O., Lu, X. et al. A meta-analysis of changes in soil organic carbon stocks after afforestation with deciduous broadleaved, sempervirent broadleaved, and conifer tree species. Annals of Forest Science 77, 92 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13595-020-00997-3

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Data availability
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article.

Handling Editor
Ana Rincón

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