Effects of afforestation

August 15, 2022
A photo of a mixed forested region in China's Loess Plateau; photo by rheins
Photo of a mixed forest in China’s Loess Plateau by rheins.

Planting trees on former agricultural land, or afforestation, can seem like a panacea for restoring land, preventing erosion, and sequestering carbon. But in dry regions like China’s Loess Plateau, new forests can deplete deep soil moisture. SWAC faculty emeritus Mike Sadowsky and his co-authors found that the drier conditions led to decreased microbial diversity and functionality. These effects on soil may impact the overall sustainability of afforestation in dry areas. Read the recent publication in Global Change Biology.