By Jean-Michel Carnus, Coordinator, IUFRO Division 8
Since 2003, 26 European specialists in humus forms have been working to develop a standardized system of classifying the condition and configuration of topsoil layers adapted to European ecological conditions.
The result of their work could become an international reference, of which, none exists today.
Studies have shown that soils store more carbon than terrestrial vegetation and the atmosphere combined, and also that soil organic matter plays a key role in the global carbon cycle as it stores huge amounts of carbon and thus counters global warming.
It is also known that some soil organic matter remains stable for thousands of years while other soil organic matter degrades quickly and releases carbon into the atmosphere thereby reinforcing the greenhouse effect.
So, as the earth’s climate warms and concerns increase about the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, a standardized system will allow a better understanding of the role of the humus forms in the carbon cycle – and the conditions under which they represent a sink (absorbing carbon), or a source (releasing carbon into the atmosphere).
Humus forms – the brown or black layers consisting of partially or wholly decayed matter – provide nutrients for plants and increase the ability of soil to retain water. These layers contain a large part of the total soil organic carbon and provide an interface between the atmosphere and the mineral soil, representing an important linkage to aquatic systems.
The main challenge the specialists have sought to address is the lack of harmony that exists in classification keys for humus forms – they are different in every European country.
Those classification differences mean that data cannot be easily exchanged among research teams, land managers and policy makers working with soils in different countries.
The specialists’ aim is to improve the compatibility of those established national classification systems and to develop a unified European reference base for humus forms. The classification system is geared primarily to West European countries between 40-60 degrees of latitude, but it’s expected to work in other ecosystems of equivalent climate. It has already been successfully tested in some forests in Iran.
While aimed primarily at forest soils, the classification system is also applicable to grasslands, pastures and wetlands.
One of the keys to this standardization is to recognize differences in local ecosystems and the need to analyze the soil horizons – layers parallel to the soil surface, whose physical characteristics differ from the layers above and beneath – of each different humus form.
The European specialists have set up protocols for the assessment and sampling of certain horizons and have developed definitions for specific diagnostic horizons, materials and their designation.
Acceptance of this classification system will provide a valuable tool to help us better understand the connection between different humus forms and carbon storage in the soil and the response of soil organic matter to a warming climate.
To view the full report, go to: [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001670611100139X] (summarized as published article)
and [http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/56/17/95/PDF/Humus_Forms_ERB_31_01_2011.pdf] (unpublished complete document)
Jean-Michel Carnus: +33-5-57122865 or jean-michel.carnus(at)pierroton.inra.fr
Gerda Wolfrum: +43 1 877 0151 17 or wolfrum(at)iufro.org
IUFRO Division 8 – Forest Environment: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-8/80000/
New Humus forms, in a structured dynamic system of classification. Photo provided by Augusto Zanella, Deputy Coordinator of IUFRO 8.02.03.
Interview with IUFRO Division 9 Coordinator Daniela Kleinschmit
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Daniela Kleinschmit is Coordinator of IUFRO Division 9 “Forest Policy and Economics”. She is heading the unit on forest policy research at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).
Photo provided by Daniela Kleinschmit
Q: Dr. Kleinschmit, how did you get involved in IUFRO and in how far has your work and career in IUFRO been beneficial for your scientific endeavors?
A.: I got involved in IUFRO about 12 years ago thanks to the supervisor of my PhD thesis, Max Krott. My first IUFRO conference was the World Congress in Kuala Lumpur in 2000. It was fascinating to meet peers from all over the world and exchange ideas, experiences and knowledge. Personal contacts are particularly helpful for developing transnational research projects and writing or organizing publications such as special issues of journals. In addition, a network like IUFRO helps to raise awareness for new triggering questions. Read more…
By: Jurij Beguš, Coordinator, IUFRO 9.01.03 Extension and Knowledge Exchange
(Slovenia Forest Service, Department for Forestry Technique)
Expert knowledge – advice and-or recommendations from those who have spent much time researching and learning about a given subject area – is often used by resource managers who do not themselves have the time or resources to collect all the data necessary to make a sound decision.
That expert knowledge, which can be used in highly diverse situations in various ecosystems and geographical areas, can assist with forest management, eco- regionalization, species conservation or environmental impact assessment. Read more…
Forests: Medicine for Body and Soul
By Hannu Raitio, Coordinator of IUFRO Task Force ForHealth
(DG Finnish Forest Research Institute, Metla)
PDF for download
Imagine a doctor who, rather than advising the usual: “Take these pills daily for the next two weeks,” says instead: “Take long walks in the forest daily for the next two weeks. That should get you back to normal.”
Okay, that’s a bit fanciful. But, it may not be too big a stretch.
There is a growing body of scientific research that suggests forests and other natural, green settings can reduce stress, improve moods, curtail aggressiveness and – possibly – even strengthen our immune systems.
Medical and health care costs are a skyrocketing financial burden in many, if not all, countries around the world – often funded through taxation or other common responsibility arrangements. Read more…
By Robert Jandl, Deputy Coordinator of IUFRO Division 8
PDF for download
In the coming decades, forests will play a major role in our planet’s carbon cycle and in our efforts to manage the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.
Getting a better understanding of whether that role might be good (a sink, absorbing carbon) or bad (a source, adding carbon to the atmosphere), motivated a study by Yude Pan and colleagues, recently published in Science Express.
The study identifies global forests as the major terrestrial carbon sink (as opposed to grasslands, peatlands or agricultural lands). It is the first such study to base conclusions on forest inventory and land cover data instead of simulation results. Read more…
End trade in detrimental ornamentals to save forests
By Eckehard Brockerhoff, IUFRO Deputy Coordinator of Division 7
(SCION, New Zealand)
PDF for download
In a provocative attempt to save the world’s forests, a group of 70-plus scientists from 17 countries are asking trade policy makers around the globe to phase out such international trade in high-risk plants that put forest health at high risk while offering limited economic benefit.
If the scientists’ proposal is implemented, it would mean an end to all international trade in containerized ornamental plant seedlings and trees intended as plants for instant landscape planting. Read more…
Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge: Sustaining Communities, Ecosystems and Biocultural Diversity
By Su See Lee, IUFRO Vice-President
PDF for download
A new book invites forest scientists to think outside the box – or, perhaps outside the laboratory – and make more of an effort to incorporate elements of traditional knowledge in their research and forest management activities.
The book, Traditional Forest-Related Knowledge: Sustaining Communities, Ecosystems and Biocultural Diversity, published by Springer just this month, takes a long look at the contribution traditional knowledge has made and continues to make to sustainable resource management around the world. Read more…
Forest research matters. All of us under the IUFRO umbrella know that.
Research is what we, in our member organizations, do. It is who we are.
By Niels Elers Koch, President, IUFRO
(Copenhagen University, Denmark)
PDF for download
In addition to increasing our understanding of the world in which we live, there can be – and often are – important policy implications for our research findings. And we know very well that good sustainable forest management decisions can only be made based on sound science.
For that reason, IUFRO is embarking on a new initiative called IUFRO Spotlight to introduce timely, significant forest research findings from our member organizations to a worldwide network of policy makers, other decision makers and researchers. Read more…
Professor Mike Wingfield, IUFRO Vice-President for Divsions
Interview with Michael Wingfield, IUFRO Vice-President for Divisions
Q.: Professor Wingfield, as Director of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute FABI (see IUFRO Featured Members Section: http://www.iufro.org/featured-member-of-the-month/article/2011/09/22/forestry-and-agricultural-biotechnology-institute-fabi/) based at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, you are at the forefront of forest research. What are the major challenges underpinning successful forest research today?
I have the privilege to lead a very exciting research institute that has a strong focus on various aspects of forestry genetics, biotechnology and tree health. What I think is important to recognize is that forestry is an incredibly broad discipline and the forefront of research in forestry stretches across the biological and natural sciences, engineering and the social sciences. In this respect, it is difficult to clearly define forest research, let alone understand the forefronts of research in this field. Read more…
2 volumes of IUFRO’s World Series have just been newly published. The IUFRO World Series was designed to give IUFRO officeholders a possibility to make their expertise known to a larger public. In most cases, reports resulting from IUFRO meetings, IUFRO Task Force reports or results from the work of IUFRO Special Projects and Programmes are published in this series. The main focus is on original research devoted to specific themes either in the form of collected articles or as single extensive contributions.
Volume 26: Traditional Forest Related Knowledge, Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Forest Management in Eastern Europe, Northern and Central Asia.
Andrey Laletin, John A. Parrotta, Ilya Domashov (editors). Vienna, 2011 – 78 p.
Forests and woodlands that are the traditional homes of local communities in Eastern Europe, Northern and Central Asia have historically been managed by these communities themselves, or more recently in collaboration with government agencies. Traditional forest-related knowledge (TFRK) and innovative forest management practices, developed over centuries, have contributed significantly to the natural and cultural heritage of the region, and sustained production of multiple goods and services that enhance livelihood security and quality of life for people. The conference provided a platform for sharing of information and exchanging experiences among scientists, the holders and users of traditional knowledge, non-governmental organizations, forest managers and other relevant stakeholders related to forest biodiversity and traditional forest-related knowledge. The conference highlighted the importance of traditional knowledge towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the objectives of the Rio Conventions, and its contributions to sustainable forest management.
For more information visit: http://www.iufro.org/publications/series/world-series/#c16553
Volume 29: Asia and the Pacific Symposium – Vulnerability Assessments to Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards
Editors: Antonio M. Daño, Karen Rae M. Fortus, Sim Heok-Choh. Kuala Lumpur, 2011 – 95 p.
In December 2010, a symposium was held in Manila, the Philippines, to lo0k at the vulnerability of ecosystems to natural and anthropogenic hazards and how best to assess it. The main objective of the symposium was to enhance the capability and capacity of participants in conducting vulnerability assessment of various ecosystems. It served as a venue for exchange of knowledge and initiatives in vulnerability assessment. The symposium was also expected to come up with output materials that will be useful in preparing appropriate programmes/projects to deal with the inherent biophysical and socioinstitutional characteristics of ecosystems and the stressors of the resources including the impacts of climate change.
Learn more about this publication at http://www.iufro.org/publications/series/world-series/#c18479