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Positive Effects of Biochar on the Degraded Forest Soil and Tree Growth in China: A Systematic Review

Jingkang Zhang1, Shiyuan Zhang1, Changhao Niu1,2, Jiang Jiang1,2, Haijun Sun1,2,*

1 Co-Innovation Center for Sustainable Forestry in Southern China, College of Forestry, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing, 210042, China
2 Key Laboratory of Soil and Water Conservation and Ecological Restoration of Jiangsu Province, Nanjing Forestry, Nanjing, 210042, China

* Corresponding Author: Haijun Sun. Email:

Phyton-International Journal of Experimental Botany 2022, 91(8), 1601-1616.


Soil degradation threatens the forest sustainable productivity, particularly in afforestation system. Biochar derived from agroforestry waste or biomass can potentially improve the degraded forest soil and promote the tree growth. To expand the application of biochar for forestry productivity improvement, we here reviewed the effects and the underlying mechanisms of biochar on the degraded forest soil and tree growth. Totally 96 studies that conducted from pot to field investigations in China were summarized. The result suggested that biochar generally exerted positive effects on restoration of degraded forest soil such as that with compaction, acidification or soil erosion, which are mainly manifested by improving soil porosity, increasing pH, enhancing erosion resistance and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, biochar incorporation promoted the growth of tested trees in most cases, which effect was mainly attributing to directly supplying nutrients, improving soil physio-chemical properties, enhancing the root’s nutrient absorption capacity, and enlarging the living space. In summary, current studies demonstrate that biochar has a unique potential for improving degraded forest soils and promoting tree growth. However, investigations on the underlying mechanisms and the long-term effects should be strengthened.


Cite This Article

Zhang, J., Zhang, S., Niu, C., Jiang, J., Sun, H. (2022). Positive Effects of Biochar on the Degraded Forest Soil and Tree Growth in China: A Systematic Review. Phyton-International Journal of Experimental Botany, 91(8), 1601–1616.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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