Thursday, November 16, 2006 - 8:00 AM

Science Support for a North American Consensus on a Common Approach to Evaluate Soil Disturbance.

Mike Curran1, Daniel Neary2, Ronald Heninger3, Thomas Terry3, Kenneth Cornelius Van Rees4, Steve Howes2, Carl Trettin5, Deborah Page-Dumroese6, Barry White7, and Douglas Maynard8. (1) British Columbia Forest Service, 1907 Ridgewood Rd, Nelson, BC V1L6K1, Canada, (2) USDA Forest Service, 2500 S. Pine Knoll Dr, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, (3) Weyerhaeuser Co, 572 N 71st St, Springfield, OR 97478, (4) 51 Campus Drive, University of Saskatchewan, Univ. of Saskatchewan, Department of Soil Science, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A8, CANADA, (5) USDA Forest Service South Research Station, 2730 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29414, (6) USDA-FS (Forest Service), Rocky Mountain Research Statio, 1221 S Main, Moscow, ID 83843, (7) Alberta Forest Management Branch, 9920 108 Street, Edmonton, AB T5K 2M4, Canada, (8) Pacific Forestry Centre, 506 W Burnside, Victoria, BC V8Z 1M5, Canada

International sustainability protocols, certification schemes, and public or private landowners all have varying standards, guidelines, or expectations for soil conservation, including widely varying approaches to describing, assessing and reporting soil disturbance that occurs from forest management practices. Across North America, forest soil scientists have been striving for more uniformity in some of these processes. Products to date have included papers, symposia, field tours, committee work on an adaptive management framework, contributions to local or national level protocol reviews, and elements and rationale for a common approach. Goals behind these efforts include: (1) more uniform terms for describing soil disturbance; (2) cost-effective techniques for monitoring or assessing soil disturbance; and (3) reliable methods to rate inherent soil hazard for compaction, rutting, mechanical topsoil displacement, and erosion. Many approaches are time-consuming and expensive. One practical approach to describing soil disturbance is through visual disturbance categories. These often need to be augmented with at least some quantitative assessments such as the degree of compaction, area of soil disturbed, erosion, organic matter changes, etc. Recent legal challenges against activities in the National Forest System, and a recently proposed revision to the international Montreal Process on sustainable forest management all point towards the need for more scientific support and more progress towards a common way of describing soil disturbance. Scientific support for common approach elements are reviewed and summarized in this paper, along with current information gaps and their priorities. In fields like soil erosion, coordinated efforts working on a common framework have resulted in advances that have benefited multiple agencies and interest groups. We believe that such advances are possible for forest and range soil disturbance through coordinated efforts to develop consensus on a common approach, and summarizing,  interpreting, and providing scientific support.