Title: Assessment of the cover changes and the soil loss potential in European forestland: First approach to derive indicators to capture the ecological impacts on soil-related forest ecosystems
Citation: ECOLOGICAL INDICATORS vol. 60 p. 1208-1220
Publication Year: 2016
JRC N°: JRC95157
ISSN: 1470-160X
URI: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X1500494X
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.08.053
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The Member States of the European Union have committed to the maintenance and protection of forestlands. More precisely, the Member States aim to ensure the sustainable development and managementof the EU’s forests. For 2013, Eurostat’s statistics about primary and secondary wood products in theEuropean forest land (65% thereof privately owned) estimate a roundwood production of 435 million m3in total. Harmonised information, i.e., spatially and temporarily differentiated, on forestry and woodharvesting activities in the European forests are missing however. This lack of information impedes thescientific assessment of the impacts that forest management practices have on the soil-related forestecosystems (e.g., accelerated water soil erosion, delivery of inert sediments and pollutants within thedrainage network, pauperization of aquatic ecosystems). It also prevents national and European institu-tions from taking measures aimed at an effective mitigation of the rapidly advancing land degradation.This study provides a first pan-European analysis that delineates the spatial patterns of forest coverchanges in 36 countries. The first dynamic assessment of the soil loss potential in the EU-28 forests isreported. The recently published High-resolution Global Forest Cover Loss map (2000–2012) was repro-cessed and validated. Results show that the map is a powerful tool to spatiotemporally indicate the forestsectors that are exposed to cover change risks. The accuracy assessment performed by using a confusionmatrix based on 2300 reference forest disturbances distributed across Europe shows values of 55.1% (pro-ducer accuracy) for the algorithm-derived forest cover change areas with a Kappa Index of Agreement(KIA) of 0.672. New insights into the distribution of the forest disturbance in Europe and the resultingsoil loss potential were obtained. The presented maps provide spatially explicit indicators to assess thehuman-induced impacts of land cover changes and soil losses on the European soil-related forest ecosys-tems. These insights are relevant (i) to support policy making and land management decisions to ensurea sustainable forest management strategy and (ii) to provide a solid basis for further spatiotemporalinvestigations of the forestry practices’ impacts on the European forest ecosystems.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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