Meurisse, Robert T. 1996. Soil quality and health -Some applications to forest ecosystems. Presented at West Regional NCSS Conference, Bozeman, MT, June, 1996.
Concerns about sustaining the productivity and health of forest ecosystems have been the subject of much research, debate, and federal actions (Perry, et. al. 1989; Gessel, et. al. 1990; Everett, et. al. 1994.) Forest management practices and their impacts on the environment are scrutinized daily by the media. The National Forests are managed under principles of multiple use and sustained yield “without impairment of the productivity of the land.” Soil health and quality are embedded in statute for the National Forests of the United States. Restoration of stressed sites, and processes is an integral component of sustaining forest ecosystem health (Everett, 1994.) Understanding the role of soils is crucial to understanding stress processes within ecosystems and establishment of measurable soil quality standards is a means of expressing desired soil conditions (Meurisse and Geist, 1994.) It is national Forest Service policy to have soil quality standards to ensure sustainability and long-term productivity of forest ecosystems. The several Regions have developed and implemented standards, or measures, of soil quality since the 1970’s.