Afforestation can significantly increase soil organic carbon (SOC) and nitrogen stocks in arid and semi-arid regions, according to Chinese research.
Scientists from Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the influences of afforestation on SOC and nitrogen stocks in 0-30 cm topsoil in arid and semi-arid regions around the world. The research was published in the journal "Science of The Total Environment".
According to Li Lanhai, the leading researcher, arid and semi-arid regions store approximately 27 percent of global SOC, playing an important role in the global carbon cycle.
"Although afforestation is widely used to achieve the goals of landscape protection and ecological restoration in these regions, its effects on the dynamics of SOC and nitrogen stocks are still poorly understood," Li said.
The research shows that afforestation increased SOC stock by 131 percent and nitrogen stock by 88 percent.
The research also shows that among different tree species, broadleaf deciduous trees accumulated the highest SOC and nitrogen.
The research provides a scientific basis for the restoration and improvement of soil fertility in arid and semi-arid regions. It also provides reference for carbon sequestration and emission reduction measures to curb global warming.