Soil erosion can affect the horizontal and the vertical distribution of soil carbon at the landscape scale. The 137
Cs tracer technique can overcome the shortcomings of traditional erosion research and has proven to be the best method to study soil erosion. To understand the responses of soil organic carbon and nitrogen to soil erosion and forest conversion in the development of slope economic forests in rocky mountain areas, three representative types of economic forests that were all formed after clear-cutting and afforestation on the basis of CBF (coniferous and broad-leaved mixed forests) were selected: CF (chestnut forests) with small human disturbance intensity, AF (apple forests), and HF (hawthorn forests) with high interference intensity. The results showed that all land use types have significantly eroded since 1950; the average annual loss of soil was 0.79 mm in the CBF, 2.31 mm in the AF, 1.84 mm in the HF, and 0.87 mm in the CF. The results indicated aggravation of soil erosion after the transformation of the CBF into an economic forest. The economic forest management reduced the average carbon storage and accelerated nutrient loss. The better vegetation coverage and litter coverage of CF made them stand out among the three economic forest varieties. Therefore, when developing economic forests, we should select species that can produce litter to ensure as much soil conservation as possible to reduce the risk of soil erosion.
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