What is it about?

This research focuses on understanding the factors that affect the balance of carbon dioxide (CO2) in forests, which is crucial for mitigating climate change. The net carbon exchange between forests and the atmosphere, known as Net Ecosystem Production (NEP), is influenced by various natural and human-driven factors. These include things like rainfall, temperature, sunlight, plant types, and soil conditions. Additionally, the deposition of sulfur (S) and nitrogen (N) in the form of pollutants can impact NEP. However, it's challenging to tease apart the individual effects of these factors using traditional analysis. To tackle this problem, the researchers collected data from 231 forest sites across Europe over a 15-year period and employed a specialized statistical model called Generalized Additive Models (GAM) for nonlinear regression analysis. They found that high levels of S deposition (above 5 kg per hectare per year) significantly reduce NEP, while moderate N deposition (around 22 kg per hectare per year) has a positive effect on NEP. This underscores the importance of managing air quality by controlling S and N depositions to sustain the carbon-absorbing functions of forests. Furthermore, the study developed empirical models to estimate forest CO2 fluxes, which can be valuable tools for forest management, especially in the context of climate change mitigation. These models can be used in assessing carbon fluxes as part of the REDD+ framework, which aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation while promoting the sustainable management of forests in developing countries. [Some of the content on this page has been created by AI]

Featured Image

Why is it important?

Understanding the factors that affect the carbon balance in forests is vital in the fight against climate change. Forests play a significant role in absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. Net Ecosystem Production (NEP) measures the net carbon exchange between forests and the atmosphere, indicating whether forests are acting as carbon sources or sinks. This research focuses on disentangling the complex interactions between natural and human-induced factors that influence NEP. The study reveals that sulfur (S) and nitrogen (N) deposition have a substantial impact on NEP. Excessive S deposition can reduce the forest's ability to absorb CO2, emphasizing the importance of controlling air pollution, especially from sources like coal-fired power plants and vehicles using fossil fuels. In contrast, moderate N deposition can enhance NEP, which has implications for agricultural practices and fertilizer use. The development of empirical models for estimating forest CO2 fluxes provides valuable tools for forest management and carbon accounting in the context of international initiatives like REDD+. Ultimately, this research highlights the need to consider both natural and anthropogenic factors when managing forests to maximize their potential as carbon sinks. By better understanding the factors that affect NEP, we can make more informed decisions to mitigate climate change and safeguard the health of our ecosystems.


My perspectives towards this publication can be divided into several aspects: 1. A Leap in Understanding Forest Dynamics: I believe our research has taken a significant step in elucidating the myriad factors that influence Net Ecosystem Production (NEP) in forests. By breaking down the individual impacts of various drivers on NEP, we have not only deepened the academic understanding but also provided a clearer picture for those working on the ground. 2. A Bridge Between Theory and Practice: One of the aspects I'm particularly proud of is the practicality of our findings. Our developed models aren't just theoretical constructs; they have real-world applications. Forest managers, policymakers, and conservationists can utilize these models as tools to make informed and effective decisions, directly linking our research to on-the-ground action. 3. Highlighting the Role of Air Quality: Our study underscores the vital interplay between forests and air quality. It brings to light the profound impact of pollutants like sulphur and nitrogen on forest health and, by extension, climate change mitigation. I hope this revelation drives home the importance of holistic environmental management, where the health of our atmosphere and our forests are seen as intertwined. 4. Supporting Global Climate Initiatives: I am optimistic that our findings can influence global programs like the UN's REDD+ initiative. By understanding the nuances of what affects NEP, strategies can be tailored more effectively to combat climate change on a global scale. 5. Looking Ahead: While I'm gratified with what we've achieved with this publication, I view it as a stepping stone. There's so much more to explore, especially in understanding long-term trends and adapting to the changing global landscape. I'm eager to dive deeper and hope that our work inspires others in the field to do the same.

Prof. You-Ren Wang
National Sun Yat-sen University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Disentangling effects of natural and anthropogenic drivers on forest net ecosystem production, The Science of The Total Environment, September 2022, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.156326.
You can read the full text:




The following have contributed to this page