In 2008-2009, an investigation was conducted on the effects of three typical forest restoration approaches, i. e., naturally restored secondary forest, artificially restored native species Pinus massoniana plantation (Masson pine plantation), and introduced species Pinus elliottii plantation (slash pine plantation), on the soil quality in red soil region of Southern China. The results showed that the soil moisture content, bulk density, particle composition, and the contents of total carbon (C), total nitrogen (N), total phosphorus (P), organic C, available N, available P, and available potassium (K) in natural secondary forest were all superior to those in artificial plantations. The soil physical, chemical, and microbial properties were integrated into a soil quality index, which was significantly higher (1.20 +/- 0.10) in natural secondary forest than in Masson pine plantation (0.59 +/- 0.03) and slash pine plantation (0.59 +/- 0.06). Our results suggested as compared with the restoration with native species P. massoniana and with introduced P. elliottii, natural restoration could be a better forest restoration approach to improve the soil quality in red soil region of Southern China.
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