Finnish Forest Research Institute  Metla

Press release 01.03.2006

Metla investigates changes in soil carbon and nutrient stocks

The Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla) is initiating a project to study soil carbon and nutrient stocks and their possible changes. The biodiversity of forests will also be explored in the same project.

The project, called ”BioSoil”, will be implemented in all countries of the European Union. In addition to collecting national results, the objective is to gain a total view of the nutrients and carbon stocks in forest soil and the biodiversity of forests. Each EU country is responsible for implementing the project at the national level. In Finland, Metla will carry out the project during 2006-2007.

The aim of the project’s soil study is to determine the amount of plant-available nutrients in forest soils and how much carbon from the atmosphere is bound to soil organic matter. By comparing the results with those gained in corresponding studies made in 1995 in the European Union, new information will be gained about possible changes and reasons for the changes.

Data on forest soil carbon stocks is needed to clarify whether Finland is able to meet the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol. The carbon stock data are also used to develop of the greenhouse gas reporting system.

In this project biodiversity will be explored for the first time on such a wide scale in the EU area. Conducting the research with harmonized methods makes it possible to evaluate biodiversity and compare its state in different countries.

The study of biodiversity is based on measurements of living and dead trees and inventories of ground vegetation. The material provides means to study relationships between soil, vegetation and trees, because measurements are made on the same sample plots.

Another objective of the project is to develop monitoring and research methods suitable for studying soils and biodiversity in all parts of Europe. Research data that will be collected during the project will benefit also other studies in Finland, such as studies on site type classification, deposition impacts and climate change.

A forest health monitoring programme was started in Europe in 1985. Since 2003, the name of the programme has been Forest Focus. When the forest health monitoring programme was founded, it was agreed that separate studies will be made to investigate changes taking place in nature and the reasons for the changes. The BioSoil project now being initiated is one of these separate studies.

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