Soil is a natural resource, functioning as an integral link in the nutrient cycling of forest ecosystems. It is essential and irreplaceable. Changes in environmental conditions, together with some forestry practices threaten the ability of soils to function. Research into soil sustainability is thus essential to sustainable forest management.
The overall objective of the programme is to conduct research to ensure that forest practices do not compromise soil sustainability, and to investigate the effects of pollutant deposition and climate change on soil functions.
Current research into the sustainability of soils includes:
- Effects of harvesting practices on soil sustainability
- Effects of air pollution on soil sustainability
- Effects of climate change on the sustainability of forest soils
- Identification of soil quality indicators for soil sustainability
- Investigating fine roots of trees as indicators of environmental change, soil nutrient status and forest health
- Application of wood ash to forests
- Forest soil survey and monitoring - Forest Focus BioSoil project
Funders and partners
This research is funded by the Forestry Commission Protecting soil and water resources programme.
Research collaborators include:
- Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs
- Macaulay Land Use Research Institute (MLURI)
- University of Reading - Deptartment of Soil Science
- Skogforsk (Norwegian Forest Research Institute).
Forestry Commission policy
The Government publication ‘Sustainable Forestry - the UK Programme’ acknowledges that the soil is an important part of the forest ecosystem, and must be used ‘sustainably’. Human actions, from local-scale forest operations to international scale air pollution may compromise forest soil sustainability. Policy is to develop and implement practices to prevent soil degradation. Current guidance is given in the Forests and Soil Conservation Guidelines (1998).