Chinese cork oak (Quercus variabilis
) forests are protected on a large-scale under the Natural Forest Protection (NFP) program in China to improve the ecological environment. However, information about carbon (C) storage to increase C sequestration and sustainable management is lacking. Biomass, C, nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) storage of trees, shrubs, herb, litter and soil (0–100 cm) were determined from destructive tree sampling and plot level investigation in approximately 30-year old Chinese cork oak forests on the south slope of the Qinling Mountains. There was no significant difference in tree components’ biomass estimation, with the exception of roots, among the available allometric equations developed from this study site and other previous study sites. Leaves had the highest C, N and P concentrations among tree components and stems were the major compartments for tree biomass, C, N and P storage. In contrast to finding no difference in N concentrations along the whole soil profile, higher C and P concentrations were observed in the upper 0–10 cm of soil than in the deeper soil layers. The ecosystem C, N, and P storage was 163.76, 18.54 and 2.50 t ha−1
, respectively. Soil (0–100 cm) contained the largest amount of C, N and P storage, accounting for 61.76%, 92.78% and 99.72% of the total ecosystem, followed by 36.14%, 6.03% and 0.23% for trees, and 2.10%, 1.19% and 0.03% for shrubs, herbs and litter, respectively. The equations accurately estimate ecosystem biomass, and the knowledge of the distribution of C, N and P storage will contribute to increased C sequestration and sustainable management of Chinese cork oak forests under the NFP program.
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