Carbon stocks in a Scots pine afforestation under different thinning intensities management uri icon


  • Thinning, as a forest management strategy, may contribute towards mitigating climate change, depending on its net effect on forest carbon (C) stocks. Although thinning provides off-site C storage (in the form of wood products) it is still not clear whether it results in an increase, a reduction or no change in on-site C storage. In this study we analyze the effect of thinning on C stocks in a long-term experiment. Different thinning intensities (moderate, heavy and unthinned) have been applied over the last 30 years in a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stand, with a thinning rotation period of 10 years. The main C compartments were analyzed: above and belowground tree biomass, deadwood, forest floor and upper 30-cm of the mineral soil and tree biomass removed in thinning treatments. The results revealed that unthinned stands had the highest C stocks with 315 Mg C ha(-1), moderate thinning presented 304 Mg C ha(-1) and heavy thinning 296 Mg C ha(-1), with significant differences between unthinned and heavily thinned stands. These differences were mainly due to C stock in live biomass, which decreased with thinning intensity. However, soil C stocks, forest floor and mineral soil, were not influenced by thinning, all of the stands displaying very similar values 102-107 Mg C ha(-1) for total soil; 15-19 Mg C ha(-1) for forest floor; 87-88 Mg C ha(-1) for mineral soil). These results highlight the sustainability of thinning treatments in terms of C stocks in this pinewood afforestation, and provide valuable information for forest management aimed at mitigating climate change.

publication date

  • 2016
  • 2014