RESTORING SUSTAINABLE FORESTS ON APPALACHIAN MINED LANDS FOR WOOD PRODUCTS, RENEWABLE ENERGY, CARBON SEQUESTRATION, AND OTHER ECOSYSTEM SERVICES Page: 13 of 28
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Results and Discussion
Due to limitations regarding sediment deposition and surface runoff data for our study
sites, the use of the current C sequestration model will be limited by the assumption that there are
no significant additions and/or losses of soil carbon to and from the mine soil due to sediment
runoff. However, if sufficient surface sediment runoff data becomes available, then the
respective results will be incorporated into the current C prediction model.
The question that we addressed by creating the current C-prediction model in Figure 5 was,
"How much of the C sequestered on mined lands can be regarded as permanently stored C in
mined land ecosystems?" According to the CENTURY model, the SOM can be divided into
three pools - active, slow, and passive - the respective turnover times of which are less than 2
years, between 20 and 50 years, and greater than 1,000 years (Figure 5). For all practical
purposes, we considered the C in the passive SOM pool to be permanently stored in the mined
The results from the model indicate that significant accumulations of permanent SOC, the
C in the passive SOM pool, for a typical pre-SMCRA mined land occurred after stand age 35
years compared to age 30 for undisturbed forests (Figure 6). The rates of permanent SOC varied
from 8.4 to 12.3 Mg ha1 yr1 depending on mine soil quality (Figure 7).
The C-prediction results indicate that significant amounts of organic matter start
accumulating in the active SOM after age 27 on mined land ecosystems. A possible explanation
of the lag period of no C accumulation in the mine soil from time of planting untill age 27 is that,
depending on mine soil quality, an average of 20 to 50 years is needed for favorable mine soil
properties to develop such that vigorous soil microbial communities can be sustained in the mine
Under the cumulative effect of the soil forming processes, between two and five decades of
rock weathering and mine soil transformation are necessary for weakly developed BW subsurface
soil horizons to begin forming, thus providing for improved water holding capacity, air-water
balance, and organic matter incorporation in the mine soil via tree root growth and turnover. As
a result of the improved soil conditions, microbial communities begin to dominate the soil
system and promote the accumulation of permanent SOC within the passive SOM pool.
It is critical to note that the rock type mixture and the reclamation quality are of significant
importance to the amount of time needed for proper mine soil properties to develop. For
example, the graphs in Figure 6 show that about 20 years were required for the active SOM pool
to reach a peak, compared to only 10 years on undisturbed forests.
Furthermore, a successful reclamation and reforestation operation will not only shorten the
time period for mine soils to develop faster, but also will sustain better tree growth, thus
increasing the C sequestration potential of the mined land. We estimated that between 88% and
142% more C will be permanently stored in the passive SOM pool than the C that is predicted to
be in the aboveground tree biomass at hardwood harvest age (60 years) (Figure 6). The effect of
SI was found to be exponentially related to the amount of permanent C stored in the mine soil
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Burger, James A.; Galbraith, J.; Fox, T.; Amacher, G.; Sullivan, J. & Zipper, C. RESTORING SUSTAINABLE FORESTS ON APPALACHIAN MINED LANDS FOR WOOD PRODUCTS, RENEWABLE ENERGY, CARBON SEQUESTRATION, AND OTHER ECOSYSTEM SERVICES, report, November 29, 2004; United States. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc780576/m1/13/: accessed April 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.