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Southern pine beetle effects on soil disturbance

Date: August 21, 2019

Harvesting to reduce the impacts of southern pine beetle infestations did not result in high levels of soil disturbance. This is due, in part, to effective communication between soil scientists, timber sale administrators, and equipment operators

Log landing during harvest operations to remove southern pine beetle-killed trees
Log landing during harvest operations to remove southern pine beetle-killed trees


Soil quality is both a driver and indicator of forest ecosystem health. Management-induced changes to soil chemical, physical, and biological properties have the potential to impact soil processes and impair long-term productivity. 


This awareness that forest management can impair productivity led to the development of soil monitoring guidelines and soil quality standards. Monitoring soil to determine the impacts of various logging methods is one key to ensuring maintenance of productivity. In particular, salvage logging after the southern pine beetle was assessed to determine the degree of soil disturbance and establish a baseline for expected impacts from this type of management activity.

Key Findings

  • Currently, there are no Soil Standards in Region 8 to compare the efficacy of salvage logging with other Forest Service Regions. However, although we detected approximately 52 percent of the harvest units had some soil disturbance, it was usually light.
  • Effective communication among forest specialists and harvest operators was key to minimizing soil disturbance across all cutting units.


Featured Publications

Page-Dumroese, Deborah S. ; Abbott, Ann M. ; Rice, Thomas M. , 2009

Principal Investigators: 
Forest Service Partners: 
Robert Bergstrom, National Forests of Mississippi, US Forest Service.
Research Location: 
Southeastern USA