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Project Manager

Conducting research to ensure that forest practices do not compromise soil sustainability, and investigating the effects of pollutant deposition and climate change on soil functions in order to support sustainable forest development.

Dr. Elena Vanguelova joined Forest Research in June 2003 as a biogeochemist. Previously, Elena studied for a BSc / MSc degree in Forest Engineering at The University of Forestry in Sofia, Bulgaria, followed by a PhD in soil pollution from the Soil Science Department within the University of Reading.

Research interests

  • UK BioSoil survey – Forest soil survey and monitoring – Forest Focus EU project
  • Soil baselines establishment at Forestry Commission Scotland and Forestry Commission England Short Rotation network of sites
  • Forest Research contribution to DEFRA’s Terrestrial UMBRELLA “Acidification and Eutrophication of Terrestrial Ecosystems”
  • Peat restoration project for Forestry Commission Wales “ A strategic assessment of afforested peat resources in Wales”
  • Nitrogen deposition and soil and forest biogeochemistry
  • Afforestation impact on soil  carbon and nutrient status, soil health and functions
  • Linkages between different tree species and soil processes, functions and  biodiversity
  • Understanding the predisposition factors to tree health and decline
  • Developing and testing soil carbon models (ROMUL, RotC, ECOSSE) to forest soils
  • Supervision of 6 PhD students at Reading University, University of Central Lancashire, Newcastle University, Essex University, University of Exeter, Aberdeen University and University of Cumbria


  • Member of British Society of Soil Science
  • Secretary of SEESOIL (South East Soil Discussion Group)
  • Member of EU COST 631 Understanding and Modelling of Plant-Soil Interactions in the Rhizosphere Environment
  • Member of the management committee and Leader of Working group 1 of EU COST E38 “Woody root processes under changing environment”
  • Member of EU COST 0803 “Belowground carbon turnover in European forests”, Working Group 3 “ Soil carbon stocks and pools in EU forests”
  • Member of EU COST FP1305 “ Belowground biodiversity in European forests”
Senior Biogeochemist / Soil Sustainability Research Leader
Physical environmental sciences

Forest Research

Alice Holt Lodge


Surrey GU10 4LH


Related Research


Woodland creation and soil carbon and nutrient dynamics

Summary of a range of research projects investigating soil carbon and nutrient stocks and pools and their dynamics, long term change and potential long term sequestration after woodland creation (afforestation).

Status current
A Strategic Assessment of the Afforested Peat Resource in Wales

This report assesses the distribution of Welsh peatlands and gives an overview of the likely impacts of peat forming factors and afforested peatland restoration. National and field based assessment schemes are developed for the assessment of afforested peatland in Wales viable for restoration, as well as a national GIS assessment identifying potential restoration areas in Wales. Field-based assessment are testing by ground truthing a number of sites in Wales and relative costs of afforested peat restoration are provided.

Soil sustainability - Forest Focus - BioSoil project

Demonstration project that will be a test for the development of operational soil monitoring at a large scale

Effects of air pollution on soil sustainability

Does acid deposition affect British soils and subsequent forest health?

Soil sustainability

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.

Related Publications


[Archive] Ten years of intensive environmental monitoring in British forests

This Information Note reviews the value of intensive monitoring and the light it has shed on important environmental and forestry policy issues. Examples are drawn from the range of Level II datasets to demonstrate the greater understanding that can be gained when evaluations consider how different environmental drivers and forest responses interact with one another, […]



Terrestrial Umbrella: Eutrophication and acidification of terrestrial ecosystems

The principal roles of Forest Research in this Defra programme were to provide expert advice and to deliver a range of site specific environmental, soil and vegetation-related parameters and data-sets required for the evaluation of the Critical Loads calculation methodology. This evaluation includes the testing and calibration of process-based dynamic models of soil chemistry. By […]


Peer reviewed journal articles

Ashwood, F., Vanguelova, E. I., Benham, S. and Butt, K. R. (In Press). Developing a systematic sampling method for earthworms in and around deadwood. Forest Ecosystems.

Ashwood, F., Watts, K., Park, K., Fuentes-Montemayor, E., Benham, S. and Vanguelova, E. I. (In Press). Woodland restoration on agricultural land: long-term impacts on soil quality. Restoration Ecology.

Mark R Bakker, Ivano Brunner, Francis Ashwood, Brynhildur Bjarnadottir, Tom Bolger, Isabella Børja, Monique Carnol, Pavel Cudlin, Lise Dalsgaard, Amandine Erktan, Douglas Godbold, Hojka Kraigher, Ina Christin Meier, Luis Merino-Martín, Jurga Motiejūnaitė, Tanja Mrak, Edda Sigurdis Oddsdottir, Ivika Ostonen, Taina Liisa Pennanen, Ülle Püttsepp, Laura M. Suz, Elena Iordanova Vanguelova, Lars Vesterdal and Nadejda A. Soudzilovskaia (2019). Belowground biodiversity relates positively to ecosystem services of European forests. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change. 2, 6.

Brown, N., Vanguelova, E., Parnell, S., Broadmeadow, S. and Denman, S. (2018). Predisposition of forests to biotic disturbance: Predicting the distribution of Acute Oak Decline using environmental factors. Forest Ecology and Management, 407, 145-154.

Johnson, J, Pannatier, E, Carnicelli, S., Cecchini, G., Clarke, N., Cools, N., Hansen, K., Meesenburg, H., Nieminen, T., Pihl K., Gunilla, H., Vanguelova, E., Verstraeten, A., Vesterdal, L., Waldner, P., Jonard, M. (2018). The response of soil solution chemistry in European forests to decreasing acid deposition. Global Change Biology. 10.1111/gcb.14156.

Van der Linde, S., Suz, L.M., David, C., Orme, L., Cox, F., Andreae, H., Asi, E., Atkinson, B., Benham, B., Carroll, C., Cools, N., De Vos, B., Dietrich, H-P, Eichhorn, J., Gehrmann, J., Grebenc, T., Gweon, H.S., Hansen, K., Jacob, F., Kristöfel, F., Lech, P., Manninger, M., Martin, J., Meesenburg, H., Merilä, P., Nicolas, M., Pavlenda, P., Rautio, P., Schaub, S., Schröck, H-W., Seidling, W., Šrámek, V., Thimonier, Thomsen, I.M., Titeux, H., Vanguelova, E., Verstraeten, A., Vesterdal, L., Waldner, P., Wijk, S., Zhang, Y., Žlindra, D. & Bidartondo, M.I. (2018). Environment and host as large-scale controls of ectomycorrhizal fungi. Nature

Vanguelova, E.I., Pitman, R. and Benham, S (2018). Responses of forest ecosystems in the United Kingdom to nitrogen deposition. Under review in Environmental Pollution.

Guerrieri, R., Vanguelova, E., Pitman, R., Benham, S., Perks, M., Morison, J., Mencuccini, M. (2018). Climate overrides atmospheric deposition in affecting spatial and temporal changes in forest water-use efficiency and nitrogen availability across Britain. Under review in Nature.

Vanguelova, E.I. and Pitman, R. (2018). Nitrogen impacts on biogeochemical cycling in both broadleaved and conifer forests. Manuscript submitted to Forest Ecology and Management.

Vanguelova, E.I., Pitman, R., Benham, S., Perks, M. and Morison, J.I. (2017). Impact of tree stump harvesting on soil carbon and nutrients and second rotation tree growth in mid-Wales, UK. Open Journal of Forestry. 7, 58-78.

Vanguelova E.I., Crow, P., Benham, S., Pitman, R., Forster, J., Eaton, E.L., Morison, J.I.L. (2017) Impact of Sitka spruce afforestation on the carbon stocks of peaty gley soils – a chronosequence study in the north of England. Accepted in Forestry.

Ostonen I, Truu M, Helmisaari H-S, Lukac M, Borken W, Vanguelova E, Godbold DL, Lohmus K, Zang U, Tedersoo L, Preem J-K, Rosenvald K, Aosaar J, Armolaitis K, Frey J, Kabral N, Kukumagi M, Leppalammi-Kujansuu J, Lindroos A-J, Merila P, Napa U, Nojd P, Parts K, Uri V, Varik M & Truu J. (2017). Adaptive root foraging strategies along a boreal-temperate 1 forest gradient. New Phytologist, 215 (3), 977-991.

Ashwood, F., Butt, K.R., Doick, K., and Vanguelova, E.I. (2017). Interactive effects of composted green waste and earthworm activity on tree growth and reclaimed soil quality: A mesocosm experiment. Applied Soil Ecology, 119, 226-233.

Vanguelova, E.I., Piece, S. and Morison, J. (2017). Afforestation helps soil carbon sequestration?. Forestry and Timber News, April 2017.

Sawicka, K., Rowe, E. C., Evans, C. D., Monteith, D. T., Vanguelova, E. I., Wade, A. J. and Clark, J. M. (2017). Modelling impacts of atmospheric deposition and temperature on long term DOC trends. Science of the Total Environment. ISSN 0048-9697 doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.10.164

Vanguelova, E.I., Bonifacio, E., De Vos, B., Hoosbeek M. R., Berger T. W.,

Vesterdal L., Armolaitis, K., Celi, L., Dinca, L., Kjønaas, O.J., Pavlenda, P., Pumpanen, J., Püttsepp Ü., Reidy, B., Simončič, P., Tobin, B. and Zhiyanski, M. (2016). Sources of errors and uncertainties in the assessment of forest soil carbon stocks at different scales—review and recommendations. Environmental Monitoring and Assessments, 188: 630. DOI 10.1007/s10661-016-5608-5.

Camino-Serrano, M., Graf Pannatier, E., Vicca, S., Luyssaert, S., Jonard, M., Ciais, P., Guenet, B., Gielen, B., Peñuelas, J., Sardans, J., Waldner, P., Etzold, S., Cecchini, G., Clarke, N., Galić, Z., Gandois, L., Hansen, K., Johnson, J., Klinck, U., Lachmanová, Z., Lindroos, A.J., Meesenburg, H., Nieminen, T., Sanders, T.G.M., Sawicka, K., Seidling, W., Thimonier, A., Vanguelova, E.I., Verstraeten, A., Vesterdal, L. and Janssens, I.A. (2016). Trends in soil solution dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations across European forests. Biogeosciences, 13, 5567–5585, 2016, doi:10.5194/bg-13-5567-2016.

Sawicka, D.E., Monteith, D.T., Vanguelova, E.I., Wade, A.J. and Clark, J.M. (2016). Fine-scale temporal characterization of trends in soil water dissolved organic carbon and potential drivers. Ecological Indicators 68, 35-51. ISSN 1470-160X doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.12.028

Ashwood, F., Butt, K.R., Doick, K.J. and Vanguelova, E.I. (2016). Investigating tree foliar preference by the earthworms Aporrectodea longa and Allolobophora chlorotica in reclaimed and loam soil. Applied Soil Ecology, 110, 109-117.

Dimitrova, V., Lyubenovа, M., Zhiyanski, M. and Vanguelova, E. (2015). Roots biomass and carbon in representative Forest ecosystems in Bulgaria. Journal of Chemical, Biological and Physical Sciences, 5 (2), 2090-2108.

De Vos, B. Cools, N., Ilvesniemi, H., Vesterdal, L., Vanguelova, E. and Carnicelli, S. (2015). Benchmark values for forest soil carbon stocks in Europe: results from a large scale forest soil survey. Geoderma, 251-252, 33-46.

Waldner, P., Thimonier, A., Graf Pannatier, E., Etzold, S., Schmitt, M., Marchetto, A., Rautio, P., Derome, K., Nieminen, T., Nevalainen, S., Lindroos, A-J., Merilä, P., Kindermann, G., Neumann, M., Cools, N., De Vos, B., Roskams, P., Verstraeten, A., Hansen, K., Pihl-Karlsson, G., Dietrich, H-P., Raspe, S., Granke, O., Fischer, R., Iost, S., Lorenz, M., Sanders, T., Michel., A., Nagel, H-D., Scheuschner, T., Simončič, P., Von Wilpert, K., Meesenburg, H., Fleck, S., Ingerslev, M., Gundersen, P., Stupak, I., Vesterdal, L., Jonard, M., Clarke, N., Benham, S., Vanguelova, E., Potočič, N. and Minaya, M. (2015). Exceedance of critical loads and of critical limits impacts tree nutrition across Europe. Annals of Forest Science, DOI 10.1007/s1359-015-0489-2.

Guerrieri, R., Vanguelova, E.I., Michalski, G., Heaton, T.H.E. and Mencuccini, M. (2015). Isotopic evidence for the occurrence of biological nitrification and nitrogen deposition processing in forest canopies. Global Change Biology, 214613-4626.

Vanguelova, E.I., Morison, J., Nisbet, T. and Martin., S. (2015). Taking Stock of Forest Soil Carbon. Forestry and Timber News, August 2015, 26-27.

Villada, A. Vanguelova, E.I., Verhoef, A. and Shaw, L.S. (2015). Effect of air-drying pre-treatment on the characterization of forest soil carbon pools. Geoderma 265, pp. 53-61. ISSN 0016-7061 doi: 10.1016/j.geoderma.2015.11.003

Cools, N., Vesterdal, L., De Vos, B., Vanguelova, E.I., and Hansen, K. (2014) Tree species is the major factor explaining C:N ratios in European forest soils. Forest Ecology and Management, 311, 3-16.

Rajapaksha, N.S.S., Butt, K.R., Vanguelova, E. I. and Moffat, A. J. (2014) Short rotation forestry – Earthworm interactions: A field based mesocosm experiment. Applied Soil Ecology, 76, 52-59.

Dimitrova. V., Lyubenovа, M. and Vanguelova, E. (2014) Biomass and carbon accumulation in the herb layer of representative forest ecosystems in Bulgaria. Journal of Balkan Ecology, 17 (1), 55-71.

Peter Waldner; Aldo Marchetto; Anne Thimonier; Maria Schmitt; Michela Rogora; Oliver Granke; Volker Mues; Karin Hansen; Gunilla Pihl Karlsson; Daniel Žlindra; Nicholas Clarke; Arne Verstraeten; Andis Lazdins; Claus Schimmming; Carmen Iacoban; Antti-Jussi Lindroos; Elena Vanguelova; Sue Benham; Henning Meesenburg; Manuel Nicolas; Anna Kowalska; Vladislav Apuhtin; Ulle Nappa; Zora Lachmanová; Ferdinand Kristoefel; Albert Bleeker; Morten Ingerslev; Lars Vesterdal; Juan Molina; Uwe Fischer; Walter Seidling; Mathieu Jonard; Philip O’Dea; James Johnson; Richard Fischer; Martin Lorenz (2014). Temporal trends in atmospheric deposition of inorganic nitrogen and sulphate to forests in Europe. Atmospheric Environment, 95, 363-374.

Vanguelova, E.I., Nisbet, T.R., Moffat, A.J., Broadmeadow, S., Sanders, T.G.M. and Morison, J.I.L. (2013). A new evaluation of carbon stocks in British forest soils. Soil Use and Management, 29, 2, 169-181.

Rajapaksha, N.S.S., Butt, K.R., Vanguelova, E. and Moffat, A.J. (2013). Earthworm selection of Short Rotation Forestry leaf litter assessed through preference testing and direct observation.  Soil Biology and Biochemistry 67, 12-19.

Rajapaksha, N.S.S., Butt, K.R., Vanguelova, E. and Moffat, A.J. (2013). Effects of Short Rotation Forestry on earthworm community development in the UK. Forest Ecology and Management, 309, 96-104.

Benham, S., Vanguelova, E. and Pitman, R. (2012). Short and long term changes in carbon, nitrogen and acidity in the mineral forest soils under oak at the Alice Holt Environmental Change Network site. Science of the Total Environment 421-422, 82-93.

Vanguelova, E., Moffat, A., Morison, J. and Martin, S. (2011). Can we manage the impacts of changing climate on our forest soils? Forestry & Timber News, June, p. 11-12.

Swain, E. Y., Perks, P. P., Vanguelova, E. I. and Abbott, G. D. (2010). Carbon stocks and phenolic distributions in peaty gley soils afforested with Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). Organic Geochemistry 41, 1022-1025.

Clark, J.M., Billett, M.F., Coyle, M, Croft, S., Daniels, S., Evans, C.D., Evans, M., Freeman, C., Gallego-Sala, A.V., Heinemeyer, A., House, J.I., Monteith, D., Nayak, D., Orr, H.G., Prentice, I.C., Rose, R., Rowson, J.,  Smith, J., Smith, Jo, Tun, Y.M., Vanguelova, E.I., Wetterhall, F. and Worrall, F. (2010). Model inter-comparison between statistical and dynamic model assessments of the long-term stability of GB blanket peat (1940-2099). Climate Research, 45, 227-248.

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.

Vanguelova, E. and Nisbet, T. (2010). Save the soil. Chartered Forester, Autumn, 2010, pages 22-23.

Vanguelova, E., Pitman, R., Luiro J. and Helmisaari H-S. (2010). Long term impacts of whole tree harvesting on soil carbon and nutrient sustainability in the UK. Biogeochemistry 101, 43-59.

Vanguelova, E.I., Benham, S., Pitman, R., Moffat, A. Broadmeadow, M., Nisbet, T., Durrant, D., Barsoum, N.,Wilkinson, M., Bochereau, F., Broadmeadow, S., Hutchings, T., Crow, P., Durrant-Huston, T., Taylor, P. (2010). Chemical fluxes in time through forest ecosystems in the UK – soil response to pollution recovery. Environmental Pollution 158 (5): 1857-1869.

Langan, S., Fransson, L. and Vanguelova, E. (2009). Dynamic modelling of UK forest soils to changes in acid deposition using the SAFE model. Science of the Total Environment 407, 5605-5619.

Vanguelova E.I., Nortcliff S., Moffat, A.J. and Kennedy, F. (2007). Short-term effects of manipulated increase in acid deposition on soil, soil solution chemistry and fine roots of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) stand on a podzol. Plant and Soil 294, 41-54.

Vanguelova, E.I., Hirano, Y., Eldhuset, T.D., Sas-Paszt, L., Bakker, M., Püttsepp, Ü., Brunner, I., Lõhmus, K. and Godbold, D. (2007). Tree fine root Ca/Al molar ratio – indicator of Al and acidity stress. Plant Biosystems 141 (3): 460-480

Finér, L., Helmisaari, H. –S, K. Lõhmus; Majdi, H., Brunner, I., Børja, I., Eldhuset T., Godbold D., Grebenc T., Konôpka, B., Kraigher H., Möttönen, M.-R., Ohashi, M., Oleksyn, J., Ostonen, I., Uri, V., Vanguelova, E. (2007). Variation in fine root biomass of three European tree species: Beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.), and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.). Plant Biosystems 141 (3): 394-405.

Ostonen, I., Püttsepp, Ü., Biel, C., Alberton, O., Bakker, M. R., Lõhmus, K., Majdi, H., Metcalfe, D., Olsthoorn, A. F. M., Pronk, A., Vanguelova, E., Weih, M. and Brunner, I. (2007). Specific root length as an indicator of environmental change. Plant Biosystems 141 (3): 426–442.

Vanguelova E.I., Nortcliff S., Moffat, A.J. and Kennedy, F. (2005). Morphology, biomass and nutrient status of fine roots of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) as influenced by seasonal fluctuations in soil moisture and soil solution chemistry. Plant and Soil 270, 233-247.

Dr Vanguelova’s publications and reports for FC and other Government Departments and allied organisations, trade and EU publications, books, book chapters and published conference proceedings are available following this link:

Dr Elena Vanguelova’s extended publications list