1 Forest, Nature and Biomass, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 Section for Organismal Biology, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet3 Applied ecology, Forest & Landscape Denmark, Faculty of Life Sciences, Københavns Universitet4 Agricultural University of Iceland5 Applied ecology, Forest & Landscape Denmark, Faculty of Life Sciences, Københavns Universitet6 Section for Organismal Biology, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet7 Forest, Nature and Biomass, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
Northern Europe supports large soil organic carbon (SOC) pools and has been subjected to high frequency of land-use changes during the past decades. However, this region has not been well represented in previous large-scale syntheses of land-use change effects on SOC, especially regarding effects of afforestation. Therefore, we conducted a meta-analysis of SOC stock change following afforestation in Northern Europe. Response ratios were calculated for forest floors and mineral soils (0–10 cm and 0–20/30 cm layers) based on paired control (former land use) and afforested plots. We analyzed the influence of forest age, former land-use, forest type, and soil textural class. Three major improvements were incorporated in the meta-analysis: analysis of major interaction groups, evaluation of the influence of nonindependence between samples according to study design, and mass correction. Former land use was a major factor contributing to changes in SOC after afforestation. In former croplands, SOC change differed between soil layers and was significantly positive (20%) in the 0–10 cm layer. Afforestation of former grasslands had a small negative (nonsignificant) effect indicating limited SOC change following this land-use change within the region. Forest floors enhanced the positive effects of afforestation on SOC, especially with conifers. Meta-estimates calculated for the periods <30 years and >30 years since afforestation revealed a shift from initial loss to later gain of SOC. The interaction group analysis indicated that meta-estimates in former land-use, forest type, and soil textural class alone were either offset or enhanced when confounding effects among variable classes were considered. Furthermore, effect sizes were slightly overestimated if sample dependence was not accounted for and if no mass correction was performed. We conclude that significant SOC sequestration in Northern Europe occurs after afforestation of croplands and not grasslands, and changes are small within a 30-year perspective.
Global Change Biology, 2014, Vol 20, Issue 8, p. 2393-2405