Context: Soil enzymes play a key role in nutrient turnover in forest ecosystems, as they are responsible for the transformation of organic matter into available nutrients for plants. Enzyme activities are commonly influenced by temperature, humidity, nutrient availability, pH and organic matter content.
Aims: To assess the differences between enzyme activities in calcareous soils below Pinus halepensis and acidic soils below Pinus sylvestris plantations in Spain and to trace those differences back to edapho-climatic parameters to answer the questions: Which environmental factors drive enzyme activities in these soils? How can forest management improve them?
Methods: The differences in climatic, soil physical, chemical and biochemical parameters and the correlations between these parameters and enzyme activities in soils were assessed.
Results: Low pH and high level of phenols in acidic soils under Pinus sylvestris and water deficit in calcareous soils under Pinus halepensis plantations appeared to be the most limiting factors for enzyme activities.
Conclusion: Options such as the promotion of native broadleaf species in the Pinus sylvestris stands and the modulation of Pinus halepensis stand density or the implementation of soil preparation techniques may improve enzyme activities and therefore, nutrient availability.