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Forests 2013, 4(4), 1141-1157; doi:10.3390/f4041141
Article

White Spruce Plantations on Abandoned Agricultural Land: Are They More Effective as C Sinks than Natural Succession?

*  and
Ministère des Ressources naturelles, Direction de la recherche forestière, 2700 Einstein St., Québec, QC G1P 3W8, Canada
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 October 2013 / Revised: 21 November 2013 / Accepted: 3 December 2013 / Published: 11 December 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest and Wood Vegetation Carbon Stores and Sequestration)
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Abstract

The objective of this study was to compare organic carbon (C) accumulation in plantations (PL) and natural succession (NS) established on fallow lands along a 50-year chronosequence in the eastern mixed forest subzone of Quebec (Canada). Above- and below-ground woody biomass were estimated from vegetation measurement surveys, and litter and soil (0–50 cm depth) C from samplings. At the year of abandonment, total C content of both PL and NS sites averaged 100 ± 13 Mg C ha−1. Over 50 years, total C content doubled on NS sites and tripled on PL sites (217.9 ± 28.7 vs. 285.7 ± 31.0 Mg ha−1) with respect to fallow land. On NS sites, the new C stocks accumulated entirely in the vegetation. On PL sites, C accumulated mostly in the vegetation and to a lesser extent in the litter, whereas it decreased by a third in the soil. As a result, the net C accumulation rate was 1.7 ± 0.7 Mg ha−1 yr−1 greater on PL sites than on NS sites over 50 years. By the 23rd year, PL sites became greater net C sinks than NS sites in the fallow lands of the study area, even with the loss of soil C.
Keywords: forest carbon sequestration; afforestation; white spruce; plantations; natural succession; abandoned agricultural land forest carbon sequestration; afforestation; white spruce; plantations; natural succession; abandoned agricultural land
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Tremblay, S.; Ouimet, R. White Spruce Plantations on Abandoned Agricultural Land: Are They More Effective as C Sinks than Natural Succession? Forests 2013, 4, 1141-1157.

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