Brussels, 7 October 1999
Report on forest conditions in Europe 1999 : No improvement of the vitality of European Forests
The results of the 1998 forest health survey show a general deterioration of the crown condition of the main tree species; the trend of the forest condition is comparable with that of the past years. This long-term development must be seen differently for each species of tree and for each individual region. While the vitality of the Pine in parts of Eastern Europe has been recovering the condition of common and sessile Oak in Western Europe has clearly been deteriorating. It gets more and more apparent that photooxidants, with ozone as the main substance, can lead to visible damage in forests. This is particularly true for the Mediterranean. Ozone damage is to be suspected in other regions as well. On average the crown condition (defoliation) in Europe between 1992 and 1998 worsened on approximately 31% of the observation plots and improved on only 15% of the plots. The main causes of the vitality losses and damages are air pollution (direct and indirect) and extreme droughts.
Results of the crown condition assessment
The following table shows the percentage of assessed trees in the different defoliation classes. Throughout Europe 35.1% of the assessed trees are classified as "healthy", about 40% are in the "warning stage" and a quarter of all trees are rated "damaged", since they show more than 25% defoliation. The degree of damage (all trees with more than 25% defoliation) is the same for conifers and broadleaves.
Tab.: Proportional distribution of the defoliation classes for conifers, broadleaves and all tree species in 1998
It is generally known that the effects of the stress factors having an impact on forest health are complex and are clarified through specific research on ecosystem level in long-term studies.
Some main findings of the recently completed Technical Report 1999 "Intensive Monitoring of Forest Ecosystems in Europe" can be summarised as follows:
In 1985 the International Co-operative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on forests (ICP Forests) was created. This took place within the framework of the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (Geneva Clean Air Convention, UN/ECE). In 1986 the Member States of the European Union (EU) agreed on the European Union Scheme on the Protection of Forests against Atmospheric Pollution (Regulation (EEC) No 3528/86). The participating countries decided to obtain information on the forest condition through a common monitoring in two intensity stages:
The results of 13 years forest condition monitoring contributed to the fact that many European countries as a consequence of the implementation of the Geneva Clean Air Convention and the EU- legislation including the implementation on Member state level have reduced the emissions of air pollutants. Still further reduction measurements are needed to keep our forest ecosystems stable.
Besides the effects of air pollution on forest ecosystems aspects such as bio-diversity in forests, protection of our climate as well as the implementation of the resolutions of the Ministerial Conferences on the Protection of the Forests in Europe gained political significance. In future the Europe-wide programme to monitor forest condition will contribute to these aspects.
More information can be obtained from:
European Commission DG VI/F.I.3 Rue de la Loi 130 B-1040 BRUSSELS Belgium
FAX: 00 32 2 296 62 55
Federal Research Institute for Forest and Timber Economy PCC of ICP Forests Leuschnerstr. 91 D-21031 HAMBURG Germany
FAX: 00 49 40 739 62/480