Long-term forest soils research: lessons learned from the US experience
Long-term research studies are critical to understanding soil productivity and the sustainability of forest and woodland ecosystems around the world. They inform management decisions about best harvest techniques, soil property impacts and recovery, anthropogenic stressors (e.g., forest management, acid rain, climate change), and the influence if governmental policies, guidelines, and regulations. Forest ecosystems represent a major source of drinking water in much of the world making the interaction of atmospheric chemistry, vegetation, land use, soil and water one of global importance. This intimate connection among interacting variables also make forests a logical system to study ecosystem processes. In this chapter we discuss the challenges and benefits of establishing and maintaining long-term studies, the utility of these studies for informing decisions about how to manage forest soil to sustain the delivery of ecosystem services and lessons learned for forest research.