25.09. 2018

Tuesday’s Soil based Ecosystem Service – Forest biomass production

Outputs: wood, timber, firewood, edible products (e.g. berries, mushrooms, game)

Definition: The soil-based ecosystem service ‘forest biomass production’ refers to production of biomass within the silvicultural context. Besides technical and construction wood and timber also forest food such as berries, mushrooms, chestnuts and game can be considered.

Soil properties, processes and relevant effects: Forests are managed in different ways, e.g. as a near natural system, forest monoculture stands or as forest plantation. Forest biomass production is based on a wide range and on complex interactions of physical, chemical and biological soil properties and processes. Forest biomass production is determined by (or a result of) a variety of chemical, physical and biological soil properties such as soil depth, texture, structure, stone content and grain sizes of fine earth, nutrient content, soil acidity, , amount and quality of organic matter and soil organisms, and pH value.

Processes that support and control the nutrient, organic carbon and water cycle are in particular importance.  The forest soil quality is primarily related to nutrient stocks, soil organic matter content, soil water holding capacity, soil biodiversity as well as bearing capacity and trafficability. It is important to maintain or create a balance between the timber stocks and soils, e.g. by adapting the harvest to the increment.

Relations to the entire ecosystem: Forest is characterised by a close interaction between vegetation and soil. Thus, the properties of forest soils are largely controlled by the forest itself, and soil management is largely determined by the selection of the tree species.

Relations to other soil ecosystem services: Forests biomass production depend on water retention, affect and determine the habitat provision, reginal and global climate regulation, assure erosion control and prevention enable the recreation service and in a minor extent it provides the food production soil ecosystem service.

Land use impacts: Forest biomass production is largely controlled by climate and site characteristics but can be more or less modified by forest management.

Climate change impacts: Recent climate change threats to forest biomass production are mainly related to devastations such as wind throw, beetle infestation, and droughts and forest fires.

Demand aspects: The demand for renewable energy and thus firewood is currently increasing.

Safeguarding Agricultural and biomass production soil ecosystem service: Introduction or strengthening of sustainable forest management practices that in particular prevent and mitigate erosion, soil compaction, soil drought, organic matter decline, and other soil risks.