Publicaties

Analyses of the impact of changes in atmospheric deposition and climate on forest growth in European monitoring plots: A stand growth approach

Solberg, S.; Dobbertin, M.; Reinds, G.J.; Andreassen, K.; Lange, H.; Garcia Fernandez, P.; Hildingsson, A.; Vries, W. de

Samenvatting

During the last 15 years a number of studies have shown increasing forest growth in central Europe, rather than a decline as was expected due to negative effects of air pollution. We have here used data from intensive monitoring plots spread over Europe for a five year period in order to examine the influence of environmental factors on forest growth. Evaluations focussed on the influence of nitrogen, sulphur and acid deposition, temperatures, precipitation and on a drought index calculated as deviation from the long-term mean. The study included the main tree species Norway spruce, Scots pine, common beech as well as European and sessile oak and was based on data from 363 plots. As many other factors besides nitrogen and temperature influence tree growth, expected stem volume increments were modelled using site productivity, stand age and a stand density index. Relative volume increment was then calculated as actual increment in % of expected increment. The site productivity, assumed to be given by site conditions and past environmental conditions, was either taken from expert estimates or computed from site index curves from northern, central and southern Europe. The model explained between 18% and 39% of the variance with site productivity being positively related and age negatively related to actual increment. The various models and statistical approaches were fairly consistent, and indicated a fertilizing effect of nitrogen deposition, with slightly above one percent increase in volume increment per kg of nitrogen deposition per ha and year. This was most clear for spruce and pine, and most pronounced for plots having soil C/N ratios above 25. Also, we found a positive relationship between relative increment and summer temperature, i.e. May–August mean temperature deviation from the 1961–1990 means. The cause–effect relationship here is, however, less certain. Other influences were uncertain. Possibly, sulphur and acid deposition have effects on growth, but these effects are obscured by, and outweighed by the positive effect of nitrogen deposition, because of collinearity between these variables. Drought effects were uncertain also, and one reason for this might be large uncertainties in the precipitation data: precipitation measured on some 50% of the plots correlated poorly with the precipitation data obtained from Europe-wide databases. The major finding of this study was a positive relationship between higher than normal volume increment on one hand and nitrogen deposition on the other hand.