ICP Forests

LIFE+ FutMon, ICP Forests

Start of systematic monitoring

Unsatisfactory development of the health state of most of the forest tree species in European countries at the beginning of the eighties of the last century has motivated an effort to monitor and evaluate, systematically and in coordination, changes of the environment causing destabilization of the forests. The International Cooperative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Forests – ICP Forests has been established under the convention of the Long-range transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) in June 1985. Aim of the project is to coordinate, at European level, collecting of comparable data on changes in the forest environment, related to recent state of the environment (air pollution, acid deposition etc.), and to contribute to the evaluation of the trends of damage and better understanding of the cause-reaction relationship. The role of ICP Forests is thus to collect information on the space and time development of the forest stands at European level, and to contribute to the knowledge on the causes of today state of damage, with special respect to critical levels of air pollution. Each of these goals needs different methodologies of monitoring. They are realized within the plot networks of different composition and intensity of investigation (level I and I).Within the monitoring plots following investigation is done in regular intervals: crown condition assessment (defoliation, colour changes etc.), social position, dendrometrical parameters, phytocenology, soil, leaf and tree-ring analyses, deposition and air quality parameters. Nearly all the European states have joined the ICP Forests Programme within the years.

Joining of Czech Republic in the ICP Forests Programme

The Czech Republic has joined the ICP Forests Programme in 1986, with 61 monitoring plots within the 16×16 km network. In following year number of plots was increased to 106. In this transnational network the conception was adopted, used in the Czech republic since the fifties, when established the first plot to study the impact of SO2 on the forest stands. In 1991 the network 8×8 km of 334 was established. besides that, within the regional studies, the plots in 1×1 km network were established in the forest regions of Šumava, Brdy and Krkonoše. The information of these plots enabled to have a detailed and representative survey on the situation in given forest regions, and to compare the health state to the state of soil and tree nutrition. In 1997-1998 systematic reconstruction of both national and transnational network was done, aimed with optimization of the age and species composition , to characterize better the real stand composition in CR. Today, regular level I assessment is done within the basic network of 16×16 km and selected plots of the 8×8 km network, in total 306 plots, regularly distributed in the whole CR.

FutMon Project

The regulation establishing the ICP Forests Programme has expired in December 31, 2002. ICP Forests programme remains to be a part of the CLRTAP. However, since 2003, international financing of the monitoring programme was ensured under the Forest Focus programme by European Commission, EU regulation No.2152/2003. In frame of the Forest Focus the goal and methods of investigation were further developed, to cover wider environmental aspects of the forest health state, including climate changes, biodiversity and state of forest soils. Since 2009 monitoring is included under LIFE+ programme, where the methods are further developed under the FutMon Programme – Further Development and Implementation of an EU-level Forest Monitoring System.

The two closely related programmes cover the whole CR and give the information on the forest state in harmony with precise European methodology, which is basic with respect to the long term character of the problem in the whole Europe. The information is very important also in the evaluation of aerial or satellite pictures of the forest state.

Aim of the FutMon was to go on in monitoring of the forest health state in the systematic network of plots and to harmonize methods of investigation and the national forest inventory in European countries (here in more detail). In the plots of intensive monitoring to improve existing measuring and to complete some parameters, to make the investigation more precise to be used in some models used up to date. Total number of the plots of intensive monitoring under FutMon was reduced (in ČR 14 plots) and individual activities were divided in four actions focused to aimed goal of monitoring, of different measuring intensity:

  • IM1: Core plots of intensive monitoring
  • D1: Tree vitality and adaptation
  • D2: Nutrient cycling and critical loads
  • D3: Water balance

Besides the LIFE+ FutMon project this activity covers also complete management of the plots of intensive breeding programmes of IUFRO and EUFORGEN.

Today state

At present, monitoring of forest health is financed only from national sources; in the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Agriculture provides funding. Due to significant financial reductions, only half of Level I plots (systematic monitoring) were assessed in 2012-2013 and there was also a significant reduction in activities on Level II plots (intensive monitoring). Since 2014, the evaluation of all 306 Level I plots has been renewed; detailed measurement and monitoring of forest condition parameters according to the ICP Forests methodology is carried out on six Level II plots.