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Diagnostics and air pollution damage appraisals: Are we being sufficiently careful in appraising our forest health?

Diagnose und Einschätzung von Schäden durch Luftverschmutzung: Sind wir sorgfältig genug in der Beurteilung der Gesundheit unserer Wälder?

  • Wirkungen von Luftschadstoffen auf Gehölzpflandzen
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Numerous forest surveys are conducted annually on a worldwide basis. These surveys have multiple purposes which may include estimates of forest growth and productivity, community structure, biodiversity appraisals and/or forest condition (health) appraisals as examples. Many of these surveys are then utilized by others in developing reports of a more generalized nature. Hence, data collected without attention to detail may become lost in averages and the data itself can more easily become susceptible to accidental or directed misinterpretations and manipulations. Such may very well be the case in surveys previously conducted to determine forest condition (health) and subsequent misinterpretations about generalized symptoms being ascribed to air pollutants as their sole etiological agents. Terms such as forest decline and ‘Waldsterben’ and ‘neuartige Waldschäden’ have become erroneously associated with air pollutants (acid rain) as the primary etiological agent.


Zahlreiche Waldbestandsaufnahmen werden jährlich weltweit durchgeführt. Sie dienen vielseitigen Zwecken, so z. B. Waldzuwachs- und-ertragsschätzungen, Feststellung von Struktur und Artenreichtum der Lebensgemeinschaft Wald, und/oder Wald- (Gesundheits-)zustandserhebung. Viele dieser Bestandsaufnahmen werden dann von Dritten bei der Erstellung mehr allgemeiner Berichte praktisch ausgewertet. Damit können Daten, die ohne Beachtung von Einzelheiten erhoben wurden, in Durchschnittswerten verloren gehen und die einzelnen Daten selbst leicht Gegenstand zufälliger oder gezielter Fehlauslegung und Zweckentfremdung werden. Das kann durchaus der Fall sein bei früheren Wald- (gesundheits-)zustandserhebungen und nachfolgenden Fehleinschätzungen verallgemeinerter Symptome, die ausschließlich der Luftverschmutzung zugeschrieben wurden. Ausdrücke wie Rückgang der Gesundheit des Waldes, “Waldsterben” und “neuartige Waldschäden” wurden fälschlich mit Luftverschmutzung (saurer Regen) als Hauptursache in Verbindung gebracht.

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Skelly, J.M. Diagnostics and air pollution damage appraisals: Are we being sufficiently careful in appraising our forest health?. Forstw Cbl 112, 12–20 (1993).

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