Forestry has been recommended for carbon cycle management since it promotes carbon accumulation in soils and vegetation. Soil organic carbon (SOC) is fundamental to fertility and crop production in tropical soils and its conservation is critical to sustainable land management of neotropical savannas. Thirty to forty years of Eucalyptus and Pinus forestry in original Brazilian wooded-savanna affected forest floor layers, SOC and organic matter (OM) quality. Eucalyptus and Pinus showed higher forest floor carbon stocks than natural forest plots. On the surface soil layer, plantation effects on SOC were mediated by site-dependent factors. Below 10 cm, both plantations showed lower SOC than the native forest. The relationship between carbon and clay contents was significant in subsurface soil layers, suggesting that the particulate OM pool had been depleted by plantation activities. Plantations lead to soil OM replacement to a depth of 5 cm within 30 years. The new litter and OM in the plantations had lower quality (higher C:N ratios) than in natural forests. Our results indicate that particular care must be taken when choosing forest management practices in tropical-weathered soils because they can oxidize a significant part of the SOC pool with negative consequences to soil fertility and aggregate stability.
Part of the book: Forest Biomass and Carbon