Forest Science Program

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Fourth year responses of aspen and white spruce; the BWBS long-term soil productivity study

Author(s) or contact(s): R.D. Kabzems
Source: Forest Science Program
Subject: Soil Conservation
Series: LTSPS Research Note
Other details:  Published 2000. Hardcopy is available.


Maintaining the long term productivity of forest soils is essential for future forest growth. Organic matter losses and decreases in aeration porosity (soil compaction) are considered to be the fundamental factors contributing to observed declines in forest productivity (Powers et. al., 1990). The consequences of changes to these soil properties are not well documented, particularly in boreal ecosystems.

Post-harvest reductions in both the quantity and productivity of regenerated aspen have been observed on boreal forest sites. Particularly on the medium- and fine-textured soils common in north-eastern British Columbia, sites with a summer harvesting history commonly have reduced numbers of aspen regeneration, even where harvesting disturbance has not created ruts or excessive soil displacement. Growth responses of white spruce to harvesting disturbance are difficult to separate from the effects of competing vegetation (particularly Calamagrostis canadensis) and microsite differences in soil drainage.

Quantifying the effects of different levels of organic matter removal and soil compaction of the long-term productivity of forest soils is one of the objectives of the LTSP study. In this note, the growth responses of trembling aspen and white spruce regeneration four years after compaction and organic matter removal treatments are described.

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Updated December 17, 2008