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Forests 2017, 8(2), 37; doi:10.3390/f8020037

Potentials and Unknowns in Managing Coarse Woody Debris for Soil Functioning

Chair of Soil Ecology, Institute of Forest Sciences, University of Freiburg, DE-79085 Freiburg, Germany
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Academic Editor: Norbert Lamersdorf
Received: 11 December 2016 / Revised: 23 January 2017 / Accepted: 2 February 2017 / Published: 4 February 2017
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Abstract

More intensive removal of woody biomass for the bio-economy will disrupt litter and succession cycles. Especially at risk is the retention of fine and coarse woody debris (FWD and CWD), crucial factors in forest biodiversity and nutrient cycling. However, to what extent CWD affects soil functioning remains unknown, and is seldom considered. From 32 paired test–reference points in eight Fagus sylvatica (L.) stands throughout Southwest Germany, CWD significantly increased soil C/N ratios, base saturation, and possibly pH. CWD-induced changes in soil porosity, available water capacity, and total organic carbon depended on site and CWD characteristics. As such, CWD can be viewed as a “pedogenic hot-spot” of concentrated biogeochemical and -physical processes with outsized effects on soil functioning and development. CWD management for soil functioning should consider site and tree species specific volume thresholds, timed rotations, and spatial densities, but appropriate implementation requires further research to define best management practices. If successful, overall forest resilience as well as soil functioning and productivity can be improved. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil management; silviculture; disturbances; Fagus sylvatica; biodiversity; bioeconomy soil management; silviculture; disturbances; Fagus sylvatica; biodiversity; bioeconomy
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Stutz, K.P.; Lang, F. Potentials and Unknowns in Managing Coarse Woody Debris for Soil Functioning. Forests 2017, 8, 37.

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