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In order to gain a better understanding of the effects of air pollution, climate change and other stress factors affecting UK forest ecosystems, long-term intensive monitoring plots were established in 1995 under the convention on long range air Pollution (CLRTAP). Ten plots covered three important tree species Sitka spruce, Scots pine and Oak. In 2002 the number of plots was extended to include Beech and Norway spruce. These plots formed part of a Europe-wide ICP forests ‘Level II’ programme network.
Map showing geographic distribution of Level II plots in Europe
Click here for a map and list of all Level II plots in Britain
This research complements large-scale surveys of tree health established in Britain by the Forestry Commission, and in many European countries, during the 1980s.
The intensive monitoring programme is a vital resource to detect environmental change in UK forests and to provide the means of explaining changes in forest growth. It has produced valuable data, and considerable insight into the dynamic nature of UK forest ecosystems.
Each plot is 0.5 ha in area and contains a mensuration sampling plot of 0.1ha used to measure growth factors.
Plots were established in working forests under normal forest management, so data also document change due to management practices. Data from these plots are being used to support other environmental research programmes, and also to provide information for wider Forestry Commission objectives, namely the protection of Britain’s forests and woodlands, sustainability, and soil and water quality.
The intensive forest monitoring network is supported by detailed measurements of a wide range of variables.
Summary of data collection across all Level II forest monitoring sites
Since 1995, 10 permanent intensive monitoring Level II plots have been installed in Britain in accordance with EU protocols. These represent three important forest species:
An additional 10 plots were added between 2002 and 2008, including a further two important forest species: beech (Fagus sylvatica) and Norway spruce (Picea abies).
Long term monitoring is intended to continue into the next crop rotation.
Alice Holt Research Forest – International links
Patterns of mast fruiting of common beech, sessile and common oak, Norway spruce and Scots pine in Central and Northern Europe. (2016) Forest Ecology and Management
Detection of temporal trends in atmospheric deposition of inorganic nitrogen and sulphate to forests in Europe. (2014)
Tree mineral nutrition is deteriorating in Europe.(2014) Global Change Biology
Trends and variability in weather and atmospheric deposition at UK Environmental Change Network sites (1993–2012)
Pitman, R., Vanguelova, E.I. and Benham, S. (2010) . Effects of phytophagous insects on the nutrient concentrations and fluxes through forest stands in the UK Level II network. Science of the Total Environment 409 (1): 169-181.
Ten Years of Intensive Environmental Monitoring in British Forests. Forestry Commission Information Note 88
Research to ensure forest practices do not compromise soil sustainability, and to investigate effects of pollutant deposition and climate change on soil acidification and nutrient supply.
Study to understand measure the rates of decay of the mineralogical content within soil samples and thus contribution to the soil chemistry