Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2022, Vol. 46 ›› Issue (9): 971-983.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2022.0068

• Reviews •     Next Articles

Research advances on forest-water relationships in Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica plantations for sand dune immobilization and guidance to forest management practices

DANG Hong-Zhong1,*(), ZHANG Xue-Li2, HAN Hui2, SHI Chang-Chun3, GE Yu-Xiang4, MA Quan-Lin5, CHEN Shuai1, LIU Chun-Ying1   

  1. 1Institute of Ecosystem Conservation and Restoration, Institute of Desertification Studies, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
    2Institute of Sandyland Governance and Utilization of Liaoning, Zhanggutai Horqin Sandyland Ecosystem National Station, Fuxin, Liaoning 123000, China
    3Shaanxi Institute of Sand Control, Mau Us Sandy Land Ecosystem National Observation Station, Yulin, Shaanxi 719000, China
    4Honghuaerji Mongolian Scots Pine Plantation National Nature Reserve Administration, Hulun Buir, Nei Mongol 021112, China
    5Gansu Institute of Sand Control, State Key Laboratory Breeding Base of Desertification and Aeolian Sand Disaster Control, Lanzhou 730070, China
  • Received:2022-02-18 Accepted:2022-05-05 Online:2022-09-20 Published:2022-10-19
  • Contact: DANG Hong-Zhong
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(32071836);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31570704);Natural Science Foundation Project of Liaoning Province, China(2019-MS-201);Shaanxi Shelterbelt Construction Science and Technology Research Project(2020)


China has the largest area of tree plantations in the world, and how to maintain the long-term stability of plantations has become one of the major challenges in the context of climate change. Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica is one of the most important coniferous evergreen tree species in the well-known “Three-North” Shelterbelt Construction Program in China, due to its properties of tolerance to drought, low temperature, and open land condition. Afforestation with P. sylvestris var. mongolica in northern China provides great benefits to environmental protection and ecosystem carbon fixation. However, with the growth of the stands and the ongoing climate change, P. sylvestris var. mongolica plantations in a fragile habitat of sandy land have been subjected to increasingly severe water stresses. Typically, the phenomenon of premature dieback has occurred in some of the P. sylvestris var. mongolica plantations, such as at the sites of Zhanggutai in the southern edge of Horqin Sandy Land, which causes great concerns on the stability of the local ecosystems. Based on recollections of studies on the basic biological characteristics and introduction history of P. sylvestris var. mongolica, we summarized the recent research achievements in understanding the forest-water relationships in P. sylvestris var. mongolica plantations, and examined the main contradictions in the forest-water relationships in P. sylvestris var. mongolica plantations under the climate change scenario. We recommend adjustment of several stand management measures based on the compromised forest-water relationships: (1) turning the single goal for environmental protection into multi-objectives with balanced consideration for stand structural stability, carbon sequestration, and sustainable development; (2) adopting more measures for improving soil conditions rather than for developing forest landscapes; and (3) establishing the sustainable shelterbelts by combining afforestation with natural regeneration rather than by merely depending on natural regeneration processes. Based on the condition of fragile sandy land and climate change, we should still regard P. sylvestris var. mongolica as a pioneer and construction tree species. In consideration of the principle of “determining forest cover by water supply”, the uneven-aged forest stands can be established by conducting alternate-row harvesting followed by replanting. As a result, the environmental protection function and carbon sequestration capacity can be continuously improved, the ecological services and productivity can be maximized, and the biodiversity and stability of the ecosystem can be protected and guaranteed. The findings from this study can be of important values for guiding the systematic management of northern ecological shelterbelts.

Key words: Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica, wind break and sand fixation, climate change, carbon neutralization, forest management, plantation