iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Carbon storage and soil property changes following afforestation in mountain ecosystems of the Western Rhodopes, Bulgaria

Miglena Zhiyanski (1)   , Maria Glushkova (2), Angel Ferezliev (3), Lorenzo Menichetti (4), Jens Leifeld (4)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 9, Issue 4, Pages 626-634 (2016)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor1866-008
Published: May 06, 2016 - Copyright © 2016 SISEF

Research Articles

Collection/Special Issue: IUFRO RG7.01.00 - Nice (France 2015)
Global Challenges of Air Pollution and Climate Change to Forests
Guest Editors: Elena Paoletti, Pierre Sicard

Land-use changes and afforestation activities are widely recognized as possible measures for mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration. The present study was conducted to evaluate the effect of afforestation on (i) soil physical and chemical properties and soil carbon stocks in four mountain ecosystems and (ii) whole ecosystem carbon storage. The four experimental sites, situated in the Western Rhodope Mountains (Bulgaria) were characterized by typical forest-related land-use conversions. The four sites were a Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii [Mirb.] Franco) plantation (Rd1) established on former cropland, a mixed black pine (Pinus nigra Arn.) with Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) plantation (Rd2) established on former cropland, a cropland (RdA1) and an abandoned land with uncontrolled extensive grazing (RdA2) historically used as cropland. Soil parameters, i.e., sand content, pH, organic C and N contents, C/N ratio and soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks, were significantly affected by land use and land-use history. Conversion from cropland into forestland significantly reduced soil bulk density and coarse fragments at 0-10 cm depth. Compared with adjacent cropland and abandoned land, soils in coniferous plantations were acidified in their upper layers. Sites Rd2 and RdA2 contained the least SOC owing to the previous long-term arable cultivation (>100 years). Analysis of the ecosystem C stock distribution revealed that most of C in forests was stored in the aboveground tree biomass. Our study confirmed that afforestation of cropland turned the soil into a C sink for the selected mountain region, but showed conflicting results when afforestation occurred on abandoned cropland.


Land-use Change, Afforestation, Soil, Forest Floor, Biomass, Carbon Stock

Authors’ address

Miglena Zhiyanski
Forest Ecology Department, Forest Research Institute, BAS, “Kl. Ohridski” Blv., 1756 Sofia (Bulgaria)
Maria Glushkova
Department of Forest Genetics, Physiology and Plantations, Forest Research Institute, BAS, “Kl. Ohridski” Blv., 1756 Sofia (Bulgaria)
Angel Ferezliev
Forestry Department, Forest Research Institute, BAS (Bulgaria)
Lorenzo Menichetti
Jens Leifeld
Climate/Air Pollution Group, Agroscope (Switzerland)

Corresponding author

Miglena Zhiyanski


Zhiyanski M, Glushkova M, Ferezliev A, Menichetti L, Leifeld J (2016). Carbon storage and soil property changes following afforestation in mountain ecosystems of the Western Rhodopes, Bulgaria. iForest 9: 626-634. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1866-008

Academic Editor

Elena Paoletti

Paper history

Received: Sep 08, 2015
Accepted: Dec 30, 2015

First online: May 06, 2016
Publication Date: Aug 09, 2016
Publication Time: 4.27 months

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