The long-term effects of whole-tree harvest at final felling on soil properties in a Norway Spruce (Picea Abies (L) Karst.) Stand
Date of Award
Master of Science in Forest Ecology and Management (MS)
College, School or Department Name
School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Andrew J Burton
Increased demand for forest-derived biomass has resulted in changes in harvest intensities in Finland. Conventional stem-only harvest (CH) has to some extent been replaced with whole-tree harvest (WTH). The latter involves a greater removal of nutrients from the forest ecosystem, as all the above ground biomass is exported from the site. This has raised concerns that WTH could result in large changes in the nutrient dynamics of a forest stand and could eventually lower its site productivity. Little empirical data exists to support this assumption as only a limited number of studies have been conducted on the topic. A majority of these discuss the short-term effects, thus the long-term consequences remain unknown.
The objective of this study was to compare differences in soil properties after CH and WTH in a fertile Norway spruce (Picea abies (L) Karst.) stand in Southern Finland. The site was clear-felled in August 2000 and spruce seedlings were planted in the following summer. Soil sampling in the form of systematic randomized sampling was carried out in May 2011. Changes in base saturation, cation exchange capacity, elemental pools (total and exchangeable) and acidity were studied in both organic and mineral horizons. The results indicate that WTH lowered effective cation exchange capacity and base saturation particularly in the humus layer. The pools of exchangeable Al and Fe were increased in the humus layer, whereas the amount of exchangeable Ca decreased in both layers. WTH also resulted in lower Ca/Al-ratios across the sampled layers. Treatment did not have a significant effect on pH, total pools of elements or on the C/N-ratio of the soil. The results suggest that although the stand possesses significant pools of nutrients at present, WTH, if continued, could have long-term effects on site productivity.
Kaarakka, Lilli M., "The long-term effects of whole-tree harvest at final felling on soil properties in a Norway Spruce (Picea Abies (L) Karst.) Stand", Master's Thesis, Michigan Technological University, 2012.