FSCC soil condition report

Volume I of the second European Forest Soil Condition report is a LIFE+ FutMon evaluation product of Action C1-Soil-3(FL) “Quality, expertise and evaluations within soil surveys. The second volume evaluates carbon and nutrient stocks, acidification and contamination levels, forest soil classification across Europe and compares with the first European forest soil condition survey in the 1990s on the ICP Forests Level I network.

The Second European Forest Soil Condition report evaluates the BioSoil+ database which is substantially larger than the BioSoil database evaluated by Hiederer et al. (2011) through the inclusion of 524 Level I plots from Poland, an additional 331 Level I plots of Spain and 27 Serbian plots. Conversely, 4 Hungarian Level II plots are missing. In total the BioSoil+ database contains 4928 Level I and 127 Level II plots.

About 44 % of the number of Level I plots assessed during the first forest soil condition survey were revisited during the BioSoil survey (2326 plots). The overlap of the Level I crown condition assessment plots and BioSoil+ is about 80 %, which is an improvement compared to the first soil survey (~70 %). Though, only a limited set of 127 permanent Level II plots were investigated during BioSoil. For about 75 % of them historical soil data are available enabling assessment of temporal changes. 

A substantial improvement compared to the first survey is the profile and horizon description according to internationally agreed guidelines, both for humus types and mineral soils, in order to classify them according to reference classification systems. Next to the extension of the list of chemical parameters, much more attention is paid to the proper determination of soil physical properties such as particle size distribution, coarse fragments and fine earth bulk density. However, new problems aroused in stony soils which need further fine-tuning in the manual. 

The BioSoil+ data was complemented with additional information derived from existing databases and GIS coverages, not only for checking and validating the BioSoil+ data, but also for stratifying specific soil characteristics and to investigate their correlation with ecological and anthropogenic factors. This way, BioSoil+ data can be related with previous forest soil surveys and other ICP-Forests databases, with the European soil database, forest cover map and Corine Land Cover, with Biogeographical and Ecoregions and with Natura 2000 areas. Through the overlay with the WORLDCLIM geodatabase, basic climatological data could be retrieved for each BioSoil+ plot in order to link soil characteristics with climate. 

The recently assembled BioSoil+ database was subject to a completion process and a profound data validation by FSCC. The latter consisted of compliance, conformity and uniformity checks making use of the long FSCC experience with the applied methods and lab proficiency on one hand, and feedback from the national forest soil experts and NFCs on the other hand. This way, numerous corrections were done leading to an updated European forest soil database.

Forest soils are now well characterised, but the EU picture still contains blank areas and needs further completion. BioSoil+ data should be further completed for specific countries, variables and depths, especially at the intensive monitoring plots on Level II.

  • Second European Forest Soil Condition Report. Volume I. Results of the BioSoil Soil Survey (31 Mb).
  • First Soil Condition Report (Vanmechelen et al. 1997)
    The first 'Forest Soil Condition Report' was based on data achieved during the first Level I soil survey in the  1990s. Soil damage forms associated with atmospheric deposition, of particular concern in European forests, as soil acidification, nutrient imbalances and metal contamination have been discussed. Soil included within the first Level I soil survey were evaluated on their vulnerability towards the effects of atmospheric deposition.
  • Report ‘Forest Soil condition in Europe, Results of a Large Scale Soil Survey’