The process of clearing consists of cutting down trees in such a way that those remaining have more resources and can grow more. The question was if too many had been cut down, with the concomitant removal of nutrients, and the manner, therefore, in which this process might affect long-term soil fertility.
A PhD thesis presented in the Public University of Navarre specifically analysed the internal cycle of nutrients in two wooded areas in Pinus sylvestris forests, this species, together with the beech, being the most common tree in the Navarre mountains, especially in the Pyrenees. The areas chosen were in Aspurz and Garde, locations situated at different altitudes.
In the first stage, the above-ground biomass of the wood was measured before and after the clearing is carried out, i.e. we analysed the amount of wood, leaves and bark and each one of the nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorous) that existed in the wood. Then the biomass of the dry leaves, branches, etc. of the trees in question fallen onto the floor is measured in order to assess what nutrients returned naturally from the trees to the soil and which, therefore, would be natural fertiliser. The results concluded that the clearings reduced both the above-ground biomass as well as the mineral mass, although no differences in this drop were registered between different intensities of clearings.
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