Losing ground

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Forest soils take a long time to recover from disturbances such as bushfires or logging. Soils lose nutrients when heated—fires can result in soil temperatures of more than 500°C—while logging alters the soil structure, exposing and compacting various layers. When researchers from the Australian National University collected 729 soil cores from 81 sites in the mountain ash forests of Victoria, they found it took soils up to 80 years to recover to their former nutrient density and quality following a bushfire, and 30 years following logging.

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