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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences eTheses
Title: Soil Disturbance resulting from Stump Harvesting
Authors: Collison, Jeff
Supervisor(s): Wilson, Clare
Tyler, Andrew
Keywords: Soil Disturbance
Stump Harvesting
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Forest biomass burned for energy purposes does not need to be accounted for under IPCC rules. This has led to a number of countries considering tree stump harvesting as a source of forest biomass. However there are concerns that the soil disturbance that this may entail could have adverse environmental effects, including the loss of sequestered carbon from the soil. Published results differ in the degree and nature of stump harvesting soil disturbance. Two widely used measures employed in stump harvesting soil disturbance studies are visual assessment of disturbance extent and bulk density measures of the nature of disturbance. Each of these has limitations. This study seeks to extend the insight into both the nature and extent of soil disturbance resulting from stump harvesting by the application of additional techniques. In this way the physical effects of soil disturbance by stump harvesting will be compared with those of other forestry practices. To overcome the two-dimensional and subjective nature of visual assessment, a radiometric approach was adopted, utilising residual Chernobyl 137Cs fallout to determine the degree of soil mixing. To complement bulk density measurements, micromorphological analyses of soil thin sections taken from field samples were carried out to investigate the impact of compressive force on pore space. Low-cost tracer devices were deployed in the soil around stumps prior to extraction to permit the monitoring of the lateral movement of soil during stump extraction. These methods were applied to a stump harvesting operation carried out under current UK guidance at a UPM Tilhill managed site in south west Scotland. The radiometric method demonstrated its capacity to recognise differing degrees of soil disturbance in an operational forest environment, including some disturbance that might escape visual assessment. Analysis of soil thin sections provided the evidence of a significant increase in the pore capacity of disturbed soil. The soil movement tracers developed for this project provided the capability to examine the various trajectories of soil during stump extraction as well as dimensioning the resulting disturbance crater. The study indicated that under current UK management and operational practice, stump harvesting generated a higher level of soil disturbance compared to ground preparation by trench mounding, with an estimated 1260 m3 ha-1 of soil disturbed by stump harvesting compared to 250 m3 ha-1 from trench mounding. Stump harvesting was found to generate a net reduction in soil bulk density in the affected areas, contrary to the findings of some other studies. This outcome is dependent on adhering to particular site management and operational procedures. The practice of raking over the site following stump harvesting is estimated to add a further 10% to the volume of soil disturbed, and is a questionable activity under soil sustainability guidance. This work was part-funded and actively supported by the UK Forestry Commission and UPM Tilhill.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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