Researcher: Eva-Maria Roth, Doctoral student, University of Helsinki
Supervisors: Assistant Professor Kristiina Karhu, Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki
Professor Eeva-Stiina Tuittila, Faculty of Science and Forestry, School of Forest Sciences, University of Eastern Finland
Professor Heljä-Sisko Helmisaari, Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki
Description of the project: The project promotes the sustainable use of forest soils. Forest soil is a very important natural resource that holds many functions. It provides a habitat for soil biota, enables tree growth and stores carbon. The ability of forests to fix and store atmospheric carbon has brought them into focus as a means to mitigate climate change. The carbon is stored in biomass and, to a greater extent, as organic matter in the soil. Soil organic matter greatly affects the productivity of the soil and thereby tree growth.
Continuous cover forestry is a management system that was discouraged in Finland until 2014. In contrast to the more common rotation forest management, harvesting in continuous cover forestry does not involve clear-cuts. A continuous forest cover remains permanently. Forests managed with continuous cover forestry were found to have a higher ecological resilience, enabling them to adapt to climate change and react to threats, such as bark beetle calamities or storms. My dissertation aims to compare the effects of continuous cover forestry and rotation forest management on long-term soil carbon storage and on the main drivers in the stabilization of soil carbon. I am conducting field studies on experimental plots in central Finland. Because of the reduced soil disturbance during harvests, continuous cover forestry prevents losses of carbon from the soil, which could result in higher long-term soil carbon storage.