Fertilizer research

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 1–8

The impact of historic land use and modern forestry on nutrient relations of Central European forest ecosystems

  • Gerhard Glatzel


In the past forests in Central Europe were not only sources of timber and fuelwood but also sources of nutrients to sustain the human population. The use of forests as pastures is still common in some areas while other formerly widespread practices such as litter raking or pollarding have been abandoned. Harvesting of wood, a material of extremely low mineral nutrient content and of wide C/N-ratio depletes nutrients and acid neutralizing capacity at only moderates rates, harvesting of other biomass fractions has a much more severe impact on forest ecosystems. Soil acidification from intensive biomass harvesting of historic land use equaled or exceeded present soil acidification due to the deposition of air pollutants. As a result of historic land use the majority of Central European forest ecosystems was severely depleted of nutrients and acid neutralizing capacity when modern long-rotation forestry became the dominant form of forest land use. At present high deposition rates of acidifying air pollutants prevent the recovery of forest ecosystems in Central Europe. It has to be noted that ecosystem degradation due to excessive biomass harvesting led to systems which were depleted both in nitrogen and acid neutralizing capacity, while high nitrogen deposition rates from Central European air pollution cause a novel combination of progressive soil acidification and concurrent nitrogen saturation. This combination has a high potential for aggravating mineral nutrient deficiencies and nutritional disorders in forest ecosystems.

Key words

Soil acidification mineral nutrition litter raking pollarding forest pasture forest decline air pollution 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Asman WAH, Drukker B and Janssen AJ (1987) Estimated historic concentrations and depositions of ammonia and ammonium in Europe and their origin (1870–1980). Inst for Meteorology and Oceanography (IMOU) Utrecht, Rept R-87-2Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Austad I (1988) Tree pollarding in western Norway. In: Birks HH, Birks HJB, Kaland PE and Moe D (Eds) The cultural landscape, past, present and future, pp 11–29. Cambridge Univ PressGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Birks HJB, Line JM and Persson T (1988) Quantitative estimation of human impact on cultural landscape development. In: Birks HH, Birks HJB, Kaland PE and Moe D (Eds) The cultural landscape, past, present and future, pp 229–240. Cambridge Univ PressGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Castelletti L (1988) Archaeology and forest history. In: Sabiano F (Ed) Human influence on forest ecosystems development in Europe, pp 3–10. ESF FERN-CNR, Pitagora Editrice, BolognaGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Chen C and Glatzel G (1988) Vergleich des Bodenzustands unter Buche und Fichte im Wienerwald. In: Führer E and Neuhuber F (Eds) Berichte FIW Symposium 1988, pp 253–254. BMLuF WienGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ebermayer E (1876) Die gesamte Lehre von der Waldstreu. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Emanuelsson U (1988) The relationship of different agricultural systems to the forest and woodlands of Europe. In: Sabiano F (Ed) Human influence on forest ecosystems development in Europe. ESF FERN-CNR, pp 169–178. Pitagora Editrice, BolognaGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Englisch M (1987) Versauerung von Waldböden durch Entnahme von Biomasse bei der Holzernte. Diplomarbeit, Univ f Bodenkultur, WienGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Glatzel G and Unteregger E (1987) Nährstoffentzug und Bodenversauerung in Pappel-Energieholzplantagen. Österr Forstzg 4: 58–59Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hager H (1988) Stammzahlreduktion: Auswirkungen auf Wasser-, Energie- und Nährstoffhaushalt von Fichtenjungwüchsen. Forstl Schriftenreihe, Univ f Bodenkultur, Wien, Bd 1Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hasel K (1985) Forstgeschichte: Ein Grundriß für Studium und Praxis. Parey, Hamburg, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Krapfenbauer A (1983) Von der Streunutzung zur Ganzbaumnutzung. Cbl ges Forstwesen 100: 143–174Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kreutzer K (1972) Über den Einfluß der Streunutzung auf den Stickstoffhaushalt von Kiefernbeständen. Forstw Cbl 91: 263–270Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Nilsson SI, Miller HG and Miller JD (1982) Forest growth as a possible cause of soil and water acidification: an examination of the concepts. Oikos 39: 40–49Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ramann E (1883) Die Einwirkung der Streuentnahme auf Sandböden. Zeitschrift f Forst- u. Jagdwesen 11: 577 & 12: 633Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Rehfuess KE, Bosch Ch and Pfannkuch E (1983) Nutrient imbalances in coniferous stands in Southern Germany. Comm Inst Forest Fenniae 116: 122–130Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Schulze E (1989) Air pollution and forest decline in a spruce (Picea abies) forest. Science 244: 776–783Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sterba H (1988) Increment losses by full-tree harvesting in Norway spruce (Picea abies). Forest Ecology and Management 24: 283–292Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Tyrol Soil Survey 1988: Bericht über den Zustand der Tiroler Böden 1988. Amt der Tiroler Landesregierung, Innsbruck, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ulrich B, Mayer R and Khanna PK (1980) Chemical changes due to acid precipitation in a loess derived soil in Central Europe. Soil Science 130: 193–199Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Van Miegrot H and Cole DW (1985) Acidification sources in red alder and douglas fir soils-importance of nitrification. Soil Sci Soc Am J 49: 1274–79Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Zech W, Suttner Th and Popp E (1985) Elemental analysis and physiological response of forest trees in SO2-polluted areas in NE-Bavaria. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 25: 175–183Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Zöttl HW and Mies E (1983) Nährelementversorgung und Schadstoffbelastung von Fichtenökosystemen im Südschwarzwald unter Immissionseinfluß. Mitt Deutsch Bodenkundl Ges 38: 429–434Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Zöttl HW and Huettl RF (1986) Nutrient supply and forest decline in Southwest-Germany. Water, Air and Soil Pollution 31: 449–462Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerhard Glatzel
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Forest EcologyUniversity für BodenkulturViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations