Canadian Forest Service Publications

Harvesting effects of soils, tree growth, and long-term productivity. 2005. Curran, M.; Heninger, R.L.; Maynard, D.G.; Powers, R.F. Pages 3-15 in C.A. Harrington and S.H. Schoenholtz, editors. Productivity of western forests: a forest products focus. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, Oregon, USA, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-642. 176 p.

Year: 2005

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 25688

Language: English

Series: USDA General Technical Report

Availability: PDF (download)

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Soil disturbance related to timber harvesting, reforestation, or stand tending is mainly a result of moving equipment and trees. Compaction and organic matter removal are of primary concern. Severity and extent of disturbance depend on harvest system, soil and climatic conditions. On-site, long-term effects range from permanent loss of growing sites to roads, to more subtle changes in soil properties that ultimately influence site productivity. Off-site effects may include erosion and landslides. Soil disturbance during operations is regulated and monitored to minimize both on- and off-site effects, which can take years or decades to appear. At national and international levels, sustainability protocols recognize forest soil disturbance as an important issue. At the regional level, continual monitoring and testing of standards, practices, and effects, is necessary for the successful implementation of sustainable soil management. In western forests, few studies are old enough to conclusively predict the long-term effects of harvest-induced soil disturbance on tree growth. Results from existing longand short-term studies have demonstrated a full range of possible productivity outcomes. The net effect depends on which growth-limiting factors have been influenced by disturbance. Refinement of policies will occur as existing studies like the Long-term Soil Productivity (LTSP) network reach critical, predictive stand ages. In the interim, some regional trends are apparent: deeply developed, moderately coarse textured soils appear less sensitive to disturbance. Conversely, shallower and/or finer textured soils appear more sensitive.