16. The Effect of Forest Management on Soil Organic Carbon

  1. Thomas J. Sauer4,
  2. John M. Norman5 and
  3. Mannava V. K. Sivakumar6
  1. Giustino Tonon1,2,
  2. Silvia Dezi1,
  3. Maurizio Ventura1 and
  4. Francesca Scandellari1,3

Published Online: 7 JUN 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470960257.ch16

Sustaining Soil Productivity in Response to Global Climate Change: Science, Policy, and Ethics

Sustaining Soil Productivity in Response to Global Climate Change: Science, Policy, and Ethics

How to Cite

Tonon, G., Dezi, S., Ventura, M. and Scandellari, F. (2011) The Effect of Forest Management on Soil Organic Carbon, in Sustaining Soil Productivity in Response to Global Climate Change: Science, Policy, and Ethics (eds T. J. Sauer, J. M. Norman and M. V. K. Sivakumar), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470960257.ch16

Editor Information

  1. 4

    US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, Ames, Iowa, USA

  2. 5

    Department of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA

  3. 6

    Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch, World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Fruit Tree and Woody Plant Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy

  2. 2

    Free University of Bolzano/Bozen, Italy

  3. 3

    University of New Hampshire, Durham, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 7 JUN 2011
  2. Published Print: 15 JUL 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470958575

Online ISBN: 9780470960257



  • SOM;
  • SOC;
  • forest management;
  • Kyoto;
  • thinning;
  • old-growth forest;
  • clear cutting;
  • soil;
  • NEE;
  • soil respiration


The attention to the capacity of forest soils to store atmospheric CO2 has continued to increase during the recent years. Identifying the best forest management practices to sequester atmospheric carbon is a global priority in the framework of the climate change mitigation strategies. A new way of considering forest management is needed to conserve and enhance the carbon stocks in the forests, particularly the carbon stock of forest soils. Ecological, historical and socio-economic conditions as well as traditional forest management remain the crucial elements in establishment the best forest management option for a given landscape. Nevertheless, where ecological and socio-economic conditions are suitable, the so called “forestry carbon” should move towards the continuous cover forestry. This is a forest management option with minor impact on soil process and positive long-term effect on soil and forest carbon storage than the more frequent even-aged forest management. Where the conversion to continuous cover forestry is difficult to achieve because of social, economic, technical or ecological reasons, the elongation of rotation period of coppices and even-aged forests is a possible measure to increase forest carbon sequestration, but how much this management approach is realistic has to be assessed at regional scale by a full quantitative carbon analysis of the “wood chain” during the management cycle. Within the even-aged management option, thinning is a recommendable practise as it increases stand stability and therefore offers an important control mechanism for the maintenance of carbon storage in forest ecosystems.

Finally the old-growth forests are relevant carbon sinks and their protection must be discussed if the increment of carbon sink capacity of terrestrial ecosystems will continue to be a crucial priority at global level.