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Assessment of the exposure and loads of acidifying and eutrophying pollutants and ozone, as well as their harmful influence on the vitality of the trees and the Speulder forest ecosystem as a whole

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Author: Erisman, J.W. · Draaijers, G.P.J. · Steingröver, E. · Dijk, H. van · Boxman, A. · Vries, W. de
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers
Place: Dordrecht, Netherlands
Institution: TNO Milieu, Energie en Procesinnovatie
Source:Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 3-4, 105, 539-571
Identifier: 234534
doi: DOI:10.1023/A:1004961610700
Keywords: Perception · Acidification · Assessment · Eutrophication · Speulder forest · Vitality · Acidity · Drought · Ecosystems · Environmental impact · Eutrophication · Groundwater pollution · Leaching · Nitrates · Nitrogen · Ozone · Phosphorus · Plants (botany) · Acidification · Air pollution · Netherlands, Speulder · Abies · Pseudotsuga menziesii


Within the framework of the Dutch Priority Program on Acidification, 10 yr of research was conducted in a Douglas fir stand at Speulder forest. Research was conducted to establish the loads and levels of acidifying and eutrophying pollutants and ozone, to determine forest vitality characteristics and follow growth parameters and nutrient status in time and to determine the effects of reduction of loads and levels by manipulation experiments. Results indicate that during the last 20 yr critical levels for air pollutants have hardly been exceeded except for ozone, which slightly affected assimilation. Elevated nitrogen deposition has caused several adverse effects including (i) inhibited mycorrhizal development, leading to a decreased base cation and phosphorus uptake; (ii) elevated foliage/root (fine and coarse) ratios, making the forest more sensitive to drought and windthrow; (iii) elevated nitrogen and arginine concentrations in the foliage, associated with relative base cation and phosphorus deficiency, and (iv) elevated nitrate leaching polluting the groundwater. High inputs of acidity have caused elevated ratios of Al to base cations, affecting fine root (uptake) and depletion of the readily available Al pool, thus affecting the long-term sustainability. Despite these effects, forest vitality, in terms of defoliation/discoloration, is reasonable and forest growth even increased in response to nitrogen. The exceedances of critical loads for nitrogen and acidity, however, implies a (large) risk for the long-term sustainability of the Speulder forest.