In the context of the specificity of soil organic carbon (SOC) storage in afforested land, nutrient-poor Arenosols and nutrient-rich Luvisols after afforestation with coniferous and deciduous tree species were studied in comparison to the same soils of croplands and grasslands. This study analysed the changes in SOC stock up to 30 years after afforestation of agricultural land in Lithuania, representing the cool temperate moist climate region of Europe. The SOC stocks were evaluated by applying the paired-site design. The mean mass and SOC stocks of the forest floor in afforested Arenosols increased more than in Luvisols. Almost twice as much forest floor mass was observed in coniferous than in deciduous stands 2–3 decades after afforestation. The mean bulk density of fine (<2 mm) soil in the 0–30 cm mineral topsoil layer of croplands was higher than in afforested sites and grasslands. The clear decreasing trend in mean bulk density due to forest stand age with the lowest values in the 21–30-year-old stands was found in afforested Luvisols. In contrast, the SOC concentrations in the 0–30 cm mineral topsoil layer, especially in Luvisols afforested with coniferous species, showed an increasing trend due to the influence of stand age. The mean SOC values in the 0–30 cm mineral topsoil layer of Arenosols and Luvisols during the 30 years after afforestation did not significantly differ from the adjacent croplands or grasslands. The mean SOC stock slightly increased with the forest stand age in Luvisols; however, the highest mean SOC stock was detected in the grasslands. In the Arenosols, there was higher SOC accumulation in the forest floor with increasing stand age than in the Luvisols, while the proportion of SOC stocks in mineral topsoil layers was similar and more comparable to grasslands. These findings suggest encouragement of afforestation of former agricultural land under the current climate and soil characteristics in the region, but the conversion of perennial grasslands to forest land should be done with caution.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited