Forest Science Program

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Second year response of plant communities; the SBS long-term soil productivity study

Author(s) or contact(s): J.M. Kranabetter
Source: Forest Science Program
Subject: Soil Conservation
Series: LTSPS Research Note
Other details:  Published 1999. Hardcopy is available.


The soil conservation guidelines of the B.C. Ministry of Forests were implemented to protect forest soils from unnecessary and possibly detrimental soil disturbance. Two types of disturbance in forestry, compaction and organic matter removal, were considered potentially large threats to sustained forest productivity. Because the consequences of such changes to forest soils are not well documented, experiments on compaction and organic matter removal were undertaken in British Columbia and throughout North America as part of the long-term soil productivity study (LTSPS). In this note, we describe the effect of compaction and organic matter removal on plant communities in the Sub-boreal Spruce zone of central British Columbia.

After harvesting, and especially where there is extensive soil disturbance, plant communities change. This could be of immediate consequence, since vegetation can compete and reduce crop tree growth early in the rotation, especially on mesic to wetter site series. At the same time, vegetation is needed as habitat and food for insects, birds and other wildlife, while plant roots protect and maintain soil structure and soil food webs. While it is difficult to understand all the implications of changes to plant communities, we can start by documenting how susceptible plant communities are to the more extreme ranges in forest disturbances.

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Updated December 17, 2008