Long-term charcoal-induced changes to soil properties in temperate regions of northern Iran

  • Fatemeh Faghih
  • Mostafa Emadi
  • Fardin Sadegh-Zadeh
  • Mohammad Ali Bahmanyar
Original Paper


The long-term performance and benefits of charcoal application on the carbon sequestration and properties of forest soils in temperate or non-tropical regions has not been studied in detail in spite of its important role in global warming. This study was conducted to describe the long-term charcoal-induced changes in organic carbon (OC) content and other soil properties of temperate deciduous forests in Mazandaran province, northern Iran. Three sites were sampled to collect composite soil samples from two depths (0–20 and 20–40 cm) inside and outside of a plot of charcoal-enriched soils surrounding a historical charcoal production site (abandoned for more than 120 years). The presence of charcoal in soils for about 120 years elevated significantly the black carbon, total OC, natural soil OC, total nitrogen, dissolved organic matter, soil OC density, exchangeable bases, saturated hydraulic conductivity, available water capacity and available Fe, Mn and Zn compared to the adjacent reference soils. Cation exchange capacity (CEC) and pH were 15.5 cmolc kg−1 and 0.5 units, respectively, higher than the adjacent reference soils at 0–20 cm soil depth. However, electrical conductivity (EC), bulk density and available Cu were higher in the adjacent reference soil. The aged charcoal had no significant effect on the microbial respiration rate of studied soils. The results of this study provide new insights and strong support for the long-term benefits of biochar application as a management strategy for improving soil productivity as well as sequestering large quantities of durable carbon in soils of the region and mitigating global warming.


Biochar Black carbon Forest soils Luvisols Temperate climate Terra preta 



The authors would like to thank Sari University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Iran, for their financial and other supports. The authors are grateful to anonymous reviewers and Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Dr Ruihai Chai, for their critical comments and suggestions that greatly improved the quality of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Northeast Forestry University and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fatemeh Faghih
    • 1
  • Mostafa Emadi
    • 1
  • Fardin Sadegh-Zadeh
    • 1
  • Mohammad Ali Bahmanyar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Soil SciencesSari University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural ResourcesSariIran

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