The Forest Fire in Västmanland, South Central Sweden, and its Effects on Soils and Forest Recovery

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper

Abstract:

Forest fires can have a great impact on the relationship between soil organic matter (SOM) and soilbulk density (SBD). SOM will reduce with increased fire intensity, which ultimately leads to more compaction of the soil. The compaction rate might increase to the limit of where root growth will be absent thus leading to actions to restore the soil. This study investigates changes in the relationship between SOM and SBD in spodosol and histosol in Seglingsberg, located in South-central Sweden, where a forest fire occurred summer 2014.  In addition, changes of pH values in the two types of soilwere examined in order to receive information about the chemical states of the different soil types.A total of 29 samples at depths of 0-17 cm were received from one day of fieldwork and these were later analysed concerning the pH, the SBD and the SOM content. The results showed an increase of pH-values in the fire-exposed area compared to pH values measured at the reference site (pH ~5). More importantly, the results from the SBD and SOM analyses indicated that there was in fact an inversely proportional relationship between the two soil parameters. In addition, high pH values were measured at the same subareas of which the highest SBD- and the lowest SOM values were obtained.Statistical analyses were applied on the results in order to conclude if the soil property changes caused by the fire were significantly different from normal conditions or not. The results from the statistical analyses revealed that 25% of the fire-exposed sites had changed significantly. However, more samples should have been taken while in field, since lack of data is thought to have had a great impact on the final results.Although there were no strong statistical evidence for the hypothesis, it is clear that the forest firein Västmanland year 2014 affected both the SOM, SBD and pH values in the soils.

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