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Effects of nitrogen deposition on carbon sequestration in Chinese fir forest ecosystems

Wei, Xiaohua, Blanco, Juan A., Jiang, Hong, Kimmins, J.P. Hamish
The Science of the total environment 2012 v.416 pp. 351-361
Cunninghamia lanceolata, carbon sequestration, climate change, forest ecosystems, forest soils, forests, leaching, models, nitrogen, plantations, planting, reforestation, China
Nitrogen deposition and its ecological effects on forest ecosystems have received global attention. We used the ecosystem model FORECAST to assess the effects of nitrogen deposition on carbon sequestration in Chinese fir planted forests in SE China. This topic is important as China is intensifying its reforestation efforts to increase forest carbon sequestration for combating climate change impacts, using Chinese fir as the most important plantation species. A series of scenarios including seven N deposition levels (1, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50kgha⁻¹y⁻¹), three management regime (rotation lengths of 15, 30 and 50years) and two site qualities (nutrient poor and fertile sites) were defined for the simulations. Our results showed that N deposition increased carbon sequestration in Chinese fir forests, but the efficiency of the increasing effect is reduced as N deposition levels increase. When N deposition levels exceeded 20–30kgha⁻¹y⁻¹, the incremental effects of N deposition on forest C pools were marginal. This suggests that N deposition levels above 20–30kgha⁻¹y⁻¹ could lead to N saturation in Chinese fir forest soils. Any additional amounts of N input from deposition would likely be leached out. Total above-ground C was more sensitive to N deposition than to rotation length and site quality. It was also estimated that the contributions of N deposition to C sequestration in all Chinese fir forests in South-East China are 7.4×10⁶MgCy⁻¹ under the current N deposition levels (5 to 10kgha⁻¹y⁻¹) and could reach up to 16×10⁶MgCy⁻¹ if N deposition continues increasing and reaches levels of 7.5 to 15kgNha⁻¹y⁻¹.