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Soil quality is fundamental to ensuring healthy forests

Posted date: December 06, 2010
Publication Year: 
2010
Authors: Page-Dumroese, Deborah; Jurgensen, Martin; Neary, Daniel G.; Curran, Mike; Trettin, Carl.
Publication Series: 
General Technical Report (GTR)
Source: In: Pye, John M.; Rauscher, H. Michael; Sands, Yasmeen; Lee, Danny C.; Beatty, Jerome S., tech. eds. 2010. Advances in threat assessment and their application to forest and rangeland management. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-802. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest and Southern Research Stations: 27-36
Note: This article is part of a larger document.

Abstract

Government agencies, industrial landowners, and private landowners often strive to maintain soil quality after site management activities in order to maintain site productivity, hydrologic function, and ecosystem health. Soil disturbance resulting from timber harvesting, prescribed fire, or site preparation activities can cause declines, improvements, or have no effect on site productivity and hydrologic function. In many cases, detailed soil resource data can be used to determine the stress level and ecosystem health of stands and may be one method used to determine the risk of disease or insect outbreak. Currently, organic matter accumulations in many forests exceed historical levels. Fire suppression or fire exclusion has produced numerous overstocked stands. When this condition is combined with increased climatic variation, drought, and type conversion, these stands have a high risk for catastrophic wildfire. The resulting large, high-intensity, and high-severity fires could contribute to changes in soil quality and lead to outbreaks of insects and diseases in many ecosystems. Changes in ecosystem processes can also be associated with changes in overstory properties that alter forest stand resilience. For example, loss of western white pine to blister rust infection in the Northwestern United States has caused a type conversion to forest species that are not tolerant of root diseases, are not fire resistant, and sequester nutrients in the surface mineral soil and tree crown that can later be lost through logging or fire. These relationships, and others, can be used in conjunction with soil resource data bases to assess susceptibility to threats and to help develop management strategies to mitigate disturbances. Development of monitoring strategies that use common methods that can be utilized by a variety of land management agencies and specialists is a key component for relating forest health to soil changes after fire or other land management activities.

Citation

Page-Dumroese, Deborah; Jurgensen, Martin; Neary, Dan; Curran, Mike; Trettin, Carl. 2010. Soil quality is fundamental to ensuring healthy forests. In: Pye, John M.; Rauscher, H. Michael; Sands, Yasmeen; Lee, Danny C.; Beatty, Jerome S., tech. eds. 2010. Advances in threat assessment and their application to forest and rangeland management. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-802. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest and Southern Research Stations: 1-26.