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FutMon Scientific Report - Further development and implementation of an EU-level forest monitoring system (FutMon)

Martin Lorenz, Bernd Ahrends, Annemarie Bastrup-Birk, Georg Becher, Nathalie Cools, Bruno De Vos, Matthias Dobbertin, Johannes Eichhorn, Marco Ferretti, Richard Fischer, Stefan Fleck, Oliver Granke, Susanne Iost, Michael Janott, Hubert Jochheim, Reinhard Kallweit, G. Kindermann, Nils König, Antti-Jussi Lindroos, Stefan Meining, Volker Mues, Hans-Dieter Nagel, Markus Neumann, Konstantin Olschofsky, Stephan Raspe, Pasi Rautio, Peter Roskams, Thomas Scheuschner, Angela Schlutow, Christoph Schulz, Göran Ståhl, Wendelin Weis

edited by: Martin Lorenz

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Conclusion. The implementation of the LIFE project “FutMon” by a consortium of 38 partners in 22 EU-Member States shows that the responsible Ministries and research centres in Europe are highly motivated to carry out forest monitoring based on a harmonized pan-European system which was further developed to comply with latest information needs of environment politics. Results of the further development are
A revised large-scale (Level I) forest monitoring involving an increased number of plots of national forest inventories (NFIs) and contributions to the NFI harmonisation;
A revised forest-eocsystem scale (Level II) monitoring involving a new set of about 250 plots featuring higher monitoring intensity than ever before with newly developed surveys permitting assessments of relationships between forest condition, forest growth, climate change, carbon fluxes, air pollution, and biodiversity;
An improved quality assurance programme involving laboratory ringtests, field intercalibration exercises, as well as data compliance, conformity, and uniformity checks.
An innovative database with on-line data submission, automated data validation, automated validation reports, data storage, interactive Web-GIS, and a data dissemination module. The further development has greatly increased the scientific impact of forest monitoring as is shown by more than 100 articles based on Level I and Level II data published in peer-reviewed journals within the last three years. Several of the scientific results described in the present report prove the compliance of the system with recent information needs of environmental politics:
Forests on the investigated Level II plots act as a carbon sink under current climate conditions. Under future climate conditions the carbon-sink function of forests will increase.
Recent above-average temperatures and nitrogen deposition caused an increase in forest growth. This, however, does not mean that nitrogen deposition is generally of benefit as is shown by other data analyses under FutMon (see below).
Nitrogen concentrations in the soil solution exceed critical limits on the majority of Level II plots. On 93% of the plots critical limits for nutrient imbalances in the organic layer were exceeded in more than half of the measurements. On 67% of the plots critical limits for elevated nitrogen leaching were exceeded in more than half of the measurements.
The species diversity of epiphytic lichens was notably reduced on those forest ecosystem plots receiving high nitrogen deposition.
CLRTAP and EU clean air politics have positive effects. There are first signs that the decrease in sulphur deposition is followed by a decrease in nitrogen deposition to forests. If current legislation is continued to be implemented, this will be of benefit for forest ecosystems in future years. Using Level I forest soil condition data, relationships found at Level II could for the first time be up-scaled to Level I. On 4600 Level I plots, the share of plots with critical load exceedances for nitrogen will decrease from 36% in the year 2000 to 9% in 2020.
The scientific results prove that the forest monitoring system, in particular after its further development, is suitable for deriving cause-effect relationships from forest ecosystem data, for modelling forest ecosystem processes, and for up-scaling processes from the ecosystem scale to the large scale. This is in many cases a prerequisite for interpreting results of large-scale forest monitoring. Large-scale forest monitoring can describe the spatial and temporal variation of a number of parameters. That number of parameters, however, is mostly limited because of the high costs incurred by the high numbers of plots. This is why any future EU-level forest monitoring must rest on two pillars, namely large-scale and ecosystem scale surveys. This is also suggested by the 2012 report of the ad-hoc Working Group on Forest Information and Monitoring to the Standing Forestry Committee (SFC) of EC. For the same reason ICP Forests has taken over the system of standard and core Level II plots, the new surveys, and the database management system developed by FutMon. The revised monitoring system in connection with the database management system have boosted scientific data analyses by ICP Forests as was shown by its last two Science Conferences in Warsaw (2012) and in Belgrade (2013). Results show that the Level I and Level II monitoring data of ICP Forests are a basis for the verification of large-scale air pollution models as well as for risk assessments by means of modelling critical loads and their exceedances. They also permit the description of nutrient, carbon and water cycling in forest ecosystems and contribute to assessing risks from e. g. nutrient imbalance, climate change and drought. Their analyses contribute to a better understanding of carbon fluxes as well as the development of forest health and species diversity under different forest management, climate change, and atmospheric deposition scenarios. This enables ICP Forests to verify the effectiveness of clean air policies and to supply information to various policy processes. Besides meeting its obligations under CLRTAP, ICP Forests contributes data to LULUCF and CBD. Moreover, it contributes information to Forest Europe (FE, the former MCPFE). Relevant data are available for the following indicators: Carbon stock, forest damage, tree species composition, introduced tree species, deposition and air pollution, soil condition, and defoliation.
Future studies under preparation on Level I and Level II plots with emphasis on protected areas include
Assessments of relationships between climate change, carbon fluxes and forest growth;
Assessments of nitrate leaching into the groundwater;
Prediction of the impact of climate change on the exceedance of critical loads for nitrogen;
Assessments of invasive species;
Assessments of threatened species;
Prediction of the development of threatened species under climate change and air pollution;
Predictions of the suitability of future site conditions to currently growing tree species;
These studies are also of priority for the new forest monitoring system planned by EC DG Environment. This shows that the monitoring system revised under FutMon with its combination of fully harmonised large-scale and ecosystem-scale assessments becomes available at the right time.

Key: INRMM:14634558



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