Response of the Soil Organic Matter to Clear-cutting in the Face of Climate Change – a Report from the East Sudety Mountains, South-West Poland


Authors: Elżbieta Jamroz, Andrzej Kocowicz, Jakub Bekier, Magdalena Dębicka and Irmina Ćwieląg-Piasecka

Volume/Issue: Volume 27: Issue 1

Published online: 23 Apr 2024

Pages: 42 - 50



Clear-cutting induces biogeochemical, ecological, and hydrological changes in the soil environment, especially in the conditions of climate change effect. This type of management affects soil carbon sequestration. In this paper, we generalize the effect of clear-cutting in mountainous mixed coniferous forests on the direction of organic matter transformation and the properties of humic substances. Soil samples of dystric Cambisols were taken two and ten years after clear-cutting (CC). Soil profiles located at the same elevation under forest cover without any harvesting were used as references. The contents of total organic carbon, total nitrogen, qualitative and quantitative characteristics of humic substances, as well as the mineralogical composition and the clay-associated C fraction, were analysed. Under mountainous conditions, clear-cutting in the mixed coniferous forest enhanced organic matter decomposition and decreased the low-molecular weight humic fraction. It also caused the accumulation of more stable humic acids, particularly in the upper soil horizons, and resulted in accumulation of humic substances with higher contents of C and O and lower H content in the first years after CC. Clear-cutting in the first two years reduced the aliphacity of humic acids in the topsoil. Ten years after harvesting, a significant increase in aliphacity in the Oa horizon confirmed organic matter recovery. Mixed coniferous forests are more resistant to biotic and abiotic disturbances, which is particularly important in the face of violent weather phenomena related to climate change. Thus, forest management plans should consider the conversion of spruce monocultures to mixed coniferous forests.

Keywords: soil organic matter, humic acids, fulvic acids, clear-cutting



Amoah-Antwi, C., Kwiatkowska-Malina, J., Szara, E., Fenton, O., Thornton, S. F., & Malina, G. (2022). Assessing factors controlling structural changes of humic acids in soils amended with organic materials to improve soil functionality. Agronomy, 12(2), 283.

Barancikova, G., Jerzykiewicz, M., Gomoryova, E., Tobiasova, E., & Litavec, T. (2018). Changes in forest soil organic matter quality affected by windstorm and wildfire. J Soils Sediments, 18, 2738–2747.

Baveye, C. P., Schnee, L. S., Boivin, P., Laba, M., & Radulovich, R. (2020). Soil organic matter research and climate change: merely re-storing carbon versus restoring soil functions. Front. Environ. Sci., 8, 579904. https://doi:10.3389/fenvs.2020.579904

Boguta, P., D’Orazio, V., Senesi, N., Sokołowska, Z., & Szewczuk-Karpisz, K. (2019). Insight into the interaction mechanism of iron ions with soil humic acids. The effect of the pH and chemical properties of humic acids. J. Environ. Manag., 245, 367–374.

Borelli, P., Panagos, P., Märker, M., Modugno, S., & Schütt, B. (2017). Assessment of the impacts of clear-cutting on soil loss bywater erosion in Italian forests: First comprehensive monitoring and modelling approach. Catena, 149 (3), 770–781.

Bronick, C. J., & Lal, R. (2005). Soil structure and land managemend: a review. Geoderma, 124, 3–22.

Brunetti, G., Mezzapesa, G. N., Traversa A., Bonifacio, E., Farrag, K., Senesi, N., & D’Orazio V. (2016). Characterization of Clay- and Silt-Sized Fractions and Corresponding Humic Acids Along a Terra Rossa Soil Profile. Clean Soil Air Water, 44(10), 1375–1384.

Cerli, C., Celi, L., Kaiser, K., Guggenberger, G., Johansson, M.-B., Cignetti, A., & Zanini, E. (2008). Changes in humic substances along an age sequence of spruce stands planted on former agricultural land. Organic Geochemistry, 39, 1269–1280.

Dębicka, M., Kocowicz, A., Weber, J., & Jamroz, E. (2016). Organic matter effects on phosphorus sorption in sandy soils. Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science, 62, (6), 840–855.

De Nobili, M., Bravo, C., & Chen, Y. (2020). The spontaneous secondary synthesis of soil organic matter components: A critical examination of the soil continuum model theory. Applied Soil Ecology,154, 103655.

Falsone, G., Celi, L., Capimi, A., Simonov, G., & Bonifacio, E. (2012). The effect of clear cutting on podzolisation and soil karbon dynamice in Boral forests (Middle Taiga zone, Russia). Geoderma, 177–178, 27–38.

FAO (2015). USS Working Group WRB, World Reference Base for Soil Resources 2014, Update 2015. International Soil Classification System for Naming Soils and Creating Legends for Soil Maps. World Soil Resources Reports No. 106, Rome.

Fukuzawa, K., Shibata, H., Takagi, K., Nomura, M., Kurima, N., Fukazawa, T., Satoh, F., & Sasa, K. (2006). Effects of clear-cutting on nitrogen leaching and fine root dynamics in a cool-temperate forested watershed in northern Japan. For. Ecol. Manag., 225, 257–261.

Gee, G., & Bauder, J. W. (1986). Particle-size analysis. In: Klute A (ed). Methods of analysis. Part I Agronomy series 9. Am. Soc. Agronomy Soil Sci. Am. Inc. Publ, Madison.

Hayes, M. H. B., Mylotte, R., & Swift, R. S. (2017). Humin: its composition and importance in soil organic matter. Adv. Agron., 143, 47–138.

Hayes, M. H. B., & Swift, R. S. (2020). Vindication of humic substances as a key component of organic matter in soil and water. Adv. Agron., 163, 1–37.

James, J., & Harrison, R. (2016). The effect of harvest on forest soil carbon: A meta-analysis. Forests, 7, 308.

Jamroz, E. (2012). Properties of soil organic matter in the forest soils under mountain dwarf pine in the Snieznik Klodzki Reserve. Sylwan, 156 (11), 825–832.

Jamroz, E., & Jerzykiewicz, M. (2022). Humic fractions as indicators of soil organic matter responses to clear‐cutting in mountain and lowland conditions of southwestern Poland. Land Degrad Dev., 33 (2), 368–378.

Jamroz, E., Kocowicz, A., Bekier, J., & Weber, J. (2014). Properties of soil organic matter in Podzols under mountain dwarf pine (Pinus mugo Turra.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) in various stages of dieback in the East Sudety Mountains, Poland. For. Ecol. Manag., 330, 261–270.

Jasińska, J., Sewerniak, P., & Markiewicz, M. (2019). Links between slope aspect and rate of litter decomposition on inland dunes. Catena, 172, 501–508.

Jerzykiewicz, M., Barancikova, G., Jamroz, E., & Kałuza-Haladyn, A. (2019). Application of EPR Spectroscopy in Studies of Soils from Destroyed Forests. Appl Magn Reson 50, 753–760.

Kukla, J., & Kuklova, M. (2008). Growth of Vaccinium myrtillus L. (Ericaceae) in spruce forests damaged by air pollution. Polish Journal of Ecology, 56 (1), 149–155.

Loffredo, E., & Senesi, N. (2006). The role of humic substances in the fate of anthropogenic organic pollutants in soil with emphasis on endocrine disruptor compounds. In I. Twardowska et al. (eds.) Soil and Water Pollution Monitoring, Protection and Remediation, Springer (pp. 3–23).

Lützow, M. V., Kögel – Knabner, I., Ekschmitt, K., Matzner, E., Guggenberger, G., Marschner, B., & Flessa, H. (2006). Stabilization of organic matter in temperate soils: mechanisms and their relevance under different soil conditions – a review. European Journal of Soil Science, 57, 426–445.

Martin, D. (2016). XPowderX™ (XPowder, XPowder12): A software package for powder x-ray diffraction analysis. Qualitative, quantitative and microtexture

Mayer, M., Prescott, C. E., Abakerd, W. E. A, Augustoe, L., Cécillon, L., Ferreirah, G. W. D., Jamesi, J., Jandl, R., Katzensteinera, K., Laclau, J. P., Laganièrem, J., Nouvellonk, Y., Parém, D., Stanturf, J. A., Vanguelovao, E. I., & Vesterdalp, L. (2020). Tamm Review: Influence of forest management activities on soil organic carbon stocks: A knowledge synthesis. For. Ecol. Manag., 466, 118127.

Polláková, N., Šimanský, V., & Kravka, M. (2018). The influence of soil organic matter fractions on aggregates stabilization in agricultural and forest soils of selected Slovak and Czech hilly lands. J Soils Sediments, 18, 2790–2800.

Prescott, C. E. (2005). Do rates of litter decomposition tell us anything we really need to know? Forest Ecology and Management, 220, 66–74.

Rice, J. A., & MacCarthy, P. (1991). Statistical evaluation of the elemental composition of humic substances. Organic Geochemistry, 17, (5), 635–648.

Swift, R. S. (1996). Organic matter characterization. In: Methods of soil analysis. Part 3. Chemical methods – SSSA Book Series no. 5. Soil Science Society of America and American Society of Agronomy (pp. 1011–1068).

Tan, K. H. (2014). Humic Matter in Soil and the Environment: Principles and Controversies (2nd ed.), CRC Press.

Ussiri, D. A. N., & Johnson, C. E. (2007). Organic matter composition and dynamics in a northern hardwood forest ecosystem 15 years after clear-cutting. For. Ecol. Manag., 240, 131–142.

Weber, J., Tyszka, R., Kocowicz, A., Szadorski, J., Debicka, M., & Jamroz, E. (2012). Mineralogical composition of the clay fraction of soils derived from granitoids of the Sudetes and Fore-Sudetic Block, southwest Poland. European Journal of Soil Science, 63, 762–772.