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Individual Highlight

North American Forest Soils are Remarkably Resistant

Photo of Long term soil productivity plot in Missouri. Forest Service Long term soil productivity plot in Missouri. Forest Service Snapshot : Ten years of data on 45 locations in the United States and Canada illustrate exactly how much disturbance forest soils can undergo and still remain productive

Principal Investigators(s) :
Scott, Andy 
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2012
Highlight ID : 136


The Forest Service began its Long-Term Soil Productivity program in 1989 and it is the largest coordinated study of managed forests in the world. A recent report from the program describes 10 years of results for 45 study sites that are located throughout the United States and Canada.

Although all individual regions or sites did not fit the trend, no consistent effect was seen in tree biomass growth 10 years after whole-tree harvest and severe compaction. In fact, some sites in the boreal region responded favorably to the complete removal of the organic forest floor, and some sandy sites had improved water-holding capacity after being compacted.

Controlling noncrop vegetation had substantial and sustained positive effects on productivity. Although many sites have only recently reached canopy closure, and some responses may change with time, this work provides ample evidence of managed forest soil's resistance and resilience to one-time disturbances across wide climatic and geologic gradients.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Northern Research Station
  • Pacific Southwest Research Station
  • Regional Soil Scientists and Silviculturists in R1, R4, R5, R6, R8, and R9
  • Rocky Mount Research Station
  • British Columbia Ministry of Environment
  • British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Operations
  • Canadian Forest Service
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Applied Ecology
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
  • Oregon State University
  • University of Washington
  • Virginia Tech
  • Weyerhaeuser Corporation

Program Areas