Organic carbon stocks and sequestration rates of forest soils in Germany



The National Forest Soil Inventory (NFSI) provides the Greenhouse Gas Reporting in Germany with a quantitative assessment of organic carbon (C) stocks and changes in forest soils. Carbon stocks of the organic layer and the mineral topsoil (30 cm) were estimated on the basis of ca. 1.800 plots sampled from 1987 to 1992 and resampled from 2006 to 2008 on a nationwide grid of 8 × 8 km. Organic layer C stock estimates were attributed to surveyed forest stands and CORINE land cover data. Mineral soil C stock estimates were linked with the distribution of dominant soil types according to the Soil Map of Germany (1 : 1 000 000) and subsequently related to the forest area. It appears that the C pool of the organic layer was largely depending on tree species and parent material, whereas the C pool of the mineral soil varied among soil groups. We identified the organic layer C pool as stable although C was significantly sequestered under coniferous forest at lowland sites. The mineral soils, however, sequestered 0.41 Mg C ha−1 yr−1. Carbon pool changes were supposed to depend on stand age and forest transformation as well as an enhanced biomass input. Carbon stock changes were clearly attributed to parent material and soil groups as sandy soils sequestered higher amounts of C, whereas clayey and calcareous soils showed small gains and in some cases even losses of soil C. We further showed that the largest part of the overall sample variance was not explained by fine-earth stock variances, rather by the C concentrations variance. The applied uncertainty analyses in this study link the variability of strata with measurement errors. In accordance to other studies for Central Europe, the results showed that the applied method enabled a reliable nationwide quantification of the soil C pool development for a certain period.