Forest thinning is a silviculture treatment for sustainable forest management. It may promote growth of the remaining individuals by decreasing stand density, reducing competition, and increasing light and nutrient availability to increase carbon sequestration in the forest ecosystem. However, the action also increases carbon loss simultaneously by reducing carbon and other nutrient inputs as well as exacerbating soil CO2
efflux. To achieve a maximum forest carbon budget, the central composite design with two independent variables (thinning intensity and thinning residual removal rate) was explored in a natural pine-oak mixed stand in the Qinling Mountains, China. The net primary productivity of living trees was estimated and soil CO2
efflux was stimulated by the Yasso07 model. Based on two years observation, the preliminary results indicated the following. Evidently chemical compounds of the litter of the tree species affected soil CO2
efflux stimulation. The thinning residual removal rate had a larger effect than thinning intensity on the net ecosystem productivity. When the selective thinning intensity and residual removal rate was 12.59% and 66.62% concurrently, the net ecosystem productivity reached its maximum 53.93 t·ha−1
. The lower thinning intensity and higher thinning residual removal rated benefited the net ecosystem productivity.
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