Forest@ (Feb 2023)

Soil, humipedon and forest management

  • Zampedri R,
  • Zanella A,
  • Giannini R

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 20, no. 1
pp. 13 – 19


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Forest soil is a living and important part of the forest. It is essential for the development and reproduction of plants and for the evolution of the entire ecosystem. Proper management of the forest must also take into account the vitality and biodiversity of the soil. Due to an erroneous and non-biological conception of soil, and consequent difficulty in linking the physical aspect to the biological functioning of this complex ecosystem, the official soil classification of the last 30 years has abandoned the original link with climate, vegetation and the ecology of the environment in which soil evolves and coexists. In recent years the soil profile was divided into three sections (Humipedon, Copedon and Lithopedon), and it was then possible to link the first and most biological section of the soil to the characteristics of the environment and to its genesis. In particular, it is now possible to distinguish organic horizons generated essentially by arthropods and enchytraeids in cold and acidic or dry and arid environments, from organo-mineral horizons created by earthworms in more temperate and mesotrophic situations. Each set of horizons can be assigned to a system or form of humus, with important implications for forestry. For example, earthworms are more present in the early and late stages of sylvogenesis; by completely recycling the litter, they accelerate the provision of the organic and inorganic nutrients of the soil to the roots and the pedofauna. In general, it is now possible to associate a humus system with a given environment, with a spatial and temporal scale suitable for forest management. This paper promotes a more in-depth knowledge of the soil, to encourage foresters to take care of even half of the forest under their boots.