Impact of afforestation-associated management changes on the carbon balance of grassland
Afforestations can be considerable carbon (C) sources due to C losses from the soil after site preparation for tree planting and decreased primary production. In this study, the transition from grassland to afforestation was investigated using two eddy flux towers, which were operated in parallel for 3 years, one on a young afforestation and one on an adjacent grassland. Differences between the fluxes at the two sites were attributable to the management of the sites, without confounding influences of meteorological variability. Site preparation with deep ploughing of the planting rows destroyed 30% of the grassland vegetation at the afforestation site and reduced gross primary productivity by 41% in the first year. At the afforestation site 38 g m-2 less C was sequestered compared with the nonafforested grassland during the first year. In the following years, the C sink at the afforestation site was higher than at the grassland indicating that soil C loss due to site preparation and land use change on the afforestation occurred only during the first year.