Ecosystem carbon stocks of Estonian premature and mature managed forests: effects of site conditions and overstorey tree species

  • Reimo LutterEmail author
  • Raimo Kõlli
  • Arvo Tullus
  • Hardi Tullus
Original Paper


The crucial role of forests in terrestrial carbon (C) balance is well acknowledged, but nationwide C assessments still show some uncertainties. We estimated the effect of forest site type on various ecosystem C pools in premature- and mature-aged forests of hemiboreal Estonia. Furthermore, the effects of soil physico-chemical properties and the tree species on soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks were analysed. The weighted mean SOC stock of Estonian forests was 77 Mg C ha−1 in humipedon layer and 118 Mg C ha−1 in solum. The mean ecosystem C stock of Estonian forests was 174 (confidence range: 141 to 214) Mg C ha−1, from which 111 Mg C ha−1 was distributed in the solum layer, 61 Mg C ha−1 in the overstorey tree layer, 0.5 Mg C ha−1 in the understorey tree layer and 1.7 Mg C ha−1 in the ground vegetation. Forest site type had a significant (p < 0.001) effect on all analysed C stocks. The variation of SOC stocks in the humipedon (R2 = 0.71) and in the solum (R2 = 0.79) was explained by the thickness of the layer, the total nitrogen stock, base saturation, hydrolytic acidity, soil trophic and moisture conditions. The higher quantity of deciduous tree species in a stand composition was in a positive correlation with the SOC stock in the humipedon of fertile site types. The accuracy of nationwide assessments of forest C reporting can be improved by using a site-specific approach, considering deeper soil layers and incorporating other structural forest layers.


Nationwide carbon assessment Soil organic carbon Forest site type Forest soil Humipedon Subsoil 



This work was supported by Institutional Research Funding IUT (grants IUT21-4 and IUT34-9) and the project P170053MIMK of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research and the projects No. 0170116AGML98 and ESF Grant No. 4991. We would also like to thank the anonymous reviewer for valuable comments on the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Forestry and Rural EngineeringEstonian University of Life SciencesTartuEstonia
  2. 2.Institute of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesEstonian University of Life SciencesTartuEstonia
  3. 3.Department of Botany, Institute of Ecology and Earth SciencesUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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