ABSTRACT Soil organic carbon (SOC) retaining capacities of epipedon (EP), subsoil (SS) and soil cover (SC) as a whole, are soil type specific. Depending on individual and sites characteristics, the generalized humus status indices of soil types (EP and SC thickness and SOC stocks) may vary. Land use and land use change primarily influence the properties and fabric of the EP, but the humus status (SOC concentration and stock, fabric of horizons) of the SS remains practically unchangeable. The mean mineral soils SOC stocks, EP quality and SOC distribution in soil profiles depend mainly on the water regime, mineral composition (texture, calcareousness), development of eluvial processes and the land use peculiarities of soils. The mean area weighted SC SOC stock of Estonian mineral soils is 99.9 Mg ha–1, thereby the mean hydromorphic soils SOC retention capacity considerably exceeds the SOC retention capacity of automorphic soils (means are accordingly 127.5 and 78.9 Mg ha–1). The sustainable management of SOC is based on adequate information about actual SOC stocks and theoretically established or optimal humus status levels of soil types. The aggregate of SOC retained in the mineral soils of Estonia (3,235,100 ha) amounts to 323 ± 46 Tg (1 Tg = 1012 g). Approximately 42% of this is sequestered into stabilized humus, 40% into instable raw-humous material and 18% into forest (grassland) floor and shallow peat layers.
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