Study: Logging Destabilizes Forest Soil Carbon

- by John Cramer, December 2, 2014, Dartmouth College

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"322","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 250px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]Logging doesn't immediately jettison carbon stored in a forest's mineral soils into the atmosphere but triggers a gradual release that may contribute to climate change over decades, a Dartmouth College study finds.

The results are the first evidence of a regional trend of lower carbon pools in soils of harvested hardwood forests compared to mature or pristine hardwood forests. The findings appear in the journal Global Change Biology Bioenergy. A PDF of the study is available on request.

Despite scientists' growing appreciation for soil's role in the global carbon cycle, mineral soil carbon pools are largely understudied and previous studies have produced differing results about logging's impact. For example, the U.S. Forest Service assumes that all soil carbon pools do not change after timber harvesting.