Humus form research of Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra) is represented in several European platforms.
European Humus research group
In July 2003 the Centro di Ecologia Alpina convened the meeting ‘Form and reforms of humus’ with participants from Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Belgium and the Netherlands. The aim of this meeting was the presentation of the different national classification systems of humus forms and to discuss differences and similarities. (View the Dutch presentation). The ultimate goal was to learn from each others systems and to agree upon terminology, speaking over the same phenomena.
In general a fair consensus about typology appeared to exist for the European region, covering alpine, central European, Mediterranean and temperate zones. In more detail deviations could be assessed to different edaphic and climatic factors.
Although forestry lies at its roots there was common sense that humus form research could be applied in a broad field of environmental problems as acid deposition, climatic change, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling. A strong feeling existed that besides typological questions future research should focus on applied studies as well. The European Humus research group provides an excellent platform for initiatives in European cooperation.
Three subgroups were formed to discuss and develop future plans:
- Vocabulary and methods group:
- Terminology, methods and parameters for humus form description
- Classification group:
- Synthesis of different opinions concerning the creation of an hierarchical system
- Networking group:
- Communication and exchange of knowledge between scientists, website
At the Eurosoil congres in Freiburg (6 September 2004) the classification group presented a proposal for a European classification of humus forms. Read the paper and/or view the presentation. You can also take a look at the website of 'The European Humus Research Group'
Colleagues, especially from less represented European region (Mediterranean, Northern, Atlantic) are cordially invited to join the group.
The group met again in 2005 in San Vito (Italy) where humus forms on calcareous rocks were studied and the European classification was further elaborated. The Dutch delegation presented a humus form classification for semi-terrestrial ecosystems.In 2007 we visited Sardinia to study Mediterranean humus forms and to compare them with other humus forms in more temperate climatic zones. During this meeting the English translation of the Dutch Field Guide Humus Forms was presented to the European colleaques.
Fen restoration in Slovakia
In several parts of Middle and Eastern Europe vast peat areas are threatened to extinct by economical and technological developments in the rural landscape. These areas still have a high habitat - and bio-diversity and are worthwhile to be preserved. On the other hand intact rich fen systems are hardly preserved in the Netherlands and abroad we might learn to understand the functioning of these systems in order to apply this knowledge in future restoration projects.
A joint project of Slovakian and Dutch research groups was financed by the Dutch Government (PIN-MATRA) to develop a strategy for restoration of several calcareous fens in Slovakia. Humus profiles were investigated and appeared to be highly informative in revealing ecopedological processes conditioned by past and recent hydrological functioning of these calcareous fens. For more information see R.H.Kemmers, S.P.J. van Delft, M. Madras, M. Hoosbeek, J. Vos, N. van Breemen, 2001. Ecopedological explorations of three calcareous rich fens in the Slovak Republic. Wageningen, Alterra, Green World Research, Alterra-rapport 887