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2021 (7)

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The use of biomass from forest harvesting residues or stumps for bioenergy has been increasing in the northern European region in the last decade. The present analysis is a regional review from Nordic and UK coniferous forests, focusing on the effects of whole-tree harvesting (WTH) or whole-tree thinning (WTT) and of WTH followed by stump removal (WTH + S) on the forest floor and mineral soil, and includes a wider array of chemistry data than other existing meta-analyses. All intensified treaments led to significant decreases of soil organic carbon (SOC) stock and total N stock in the forest floor (FF), but relative responses compared with stem-only harvesting were less consistent in the topsoil (TS) and no effects were detected in the subsoil (SS). Exchangeable P was reduced in the FF and TS both after WTT and WTH, but significant changes in exchangeable Ca, K, Mg and Zn depended on soil layer and treatment. WTH significantly lowered pH and base saturation (BS) in the FF, but without apparent changes in cation exchange capacity (CEC). The only significant WTH-effects in the SS were reductions in CEC and BS. Spruce- and pine-dominated stands had comparable negative relative responses in the FF for most elements measured except Mg and for pH. Relative responses to intensified harvesting scaled positively with growing season temperature and precipitation for most variables, most strongly in FF, less in the TS, but almost never in the SS, but were negative for P and Al. The greater reduction in FF and TS for soil organic carbon after intensive harvesting decreased with time and meta-regression models predicted an average duration of 20–30 years, while many other chemical parameters generally showed linear effects for 30–45 years after intensified harvesting. Exchangeable acidity (EA), BS and pH all showed the reversed effect with time, i.e. an initial increase and then gradual decrease over 24–45 years. The subsoil never showed a significant temporal effect. Our results generally support greater reductions in nutrient concentrations, SOC and total N in forest soil after WTH compared with SOH in northern temperate and boreal forest ecosystems.

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Cultivated peatlands under drainage practices contribute significant carbon losses from agricultural sector in the Nordic countries. In this research, we developed the BASGRA-BGC model coupled with hydrological, soil carbon decomposition and methane modules to simulate the dynamic of water table level (WTL), carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions for cultivated peatlands. The field measurements from four experimental sites in Finland, Denmark and Norway were used to validate the predictive skills of this novel model under different WTL management practices, climatic conditions and soil properties. Compared with daily observations, the model performed well in terms of RMSE (Root Mean Square Error; 0.06–0.11 m, 1.22–2.43 gC/m2/day, and 0.002–0.330 kgC/ha/day for WTL, CO2 and CH4, respectively), NRMSE (Normalized Root Mean Square Error; 10.3–18.3%, 13.0–18.6%, 15.3–21.9%) and Pearson's r (Pearson correlation coefficient; 0.60–0.91, 0.76–0.88, 0.33–0.80). The daily/seasonal variabilities were therefore captured and the aggregated results corresponded well with annual estimations. We further provided an example on the model's potential use in improving the WTL management to mitigate CO2 and CH4 emissions while maintaining grass production. At all study sites, the simulated WTLs and carbon decomposition rates showed a significant negative correlation. Therefore, controlling WTL could effectively reduce carbon losses. However, given the highly diverse carbon decomposition rates within individual WTLs, adding indi-cators (e.g. soil moisture and peat quality) would improve our capacity to assess the effectiveness of specificmitigation practices such as WTL control and rewetting.

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Anthropogenic emissions of nitrogen (N) and sulphur (S) compounds and their long-range transport have caused widespread negative impacts on different ecosystems. Critical loads (CLs) are deposition thresholds used to describe the sensitivity of ecosystems to atmospheric deposition. The CL methodology has been a key science-based tool for assessing the environmental consequences of air pollution. We computed CLs for eutrophication and acidification using a European long-term dataset of intensively studied forested ecosystem sites (n = 17) in northern and central Europe. The sites belong to the ICP IM and eLTER networks. The link between the site-specific calculations and time-series of CL exceedances and measured site data was evaluated using long-term measurements (1990–2017) for bulk deposition, throughfall and runoff water chemistry. Novel techniques for presenting exceedances of CLs and their temporal development were also developed. Concentrations and fluxes of sulphate, total inorganic nitrogen (TIN) and acidity in deposition substantially decreased at the sites. Decreases in S deposition resulted in statistically significant decreased concentrations and fluxes of sulphate in runoff and decreasing trends of TIN in runoff were more common than increasing trends. The temporal developments of the exceedance of the CLs indicated the more effective reductions of S deposition compared to N at the sites. There was a relation between calculated exceedance of the CLs and measured runoff water concentrations and fluxes, and most sites with higher CL exceedances showed larger decreases in both TIN and H+ concentrations and fluxes. Sites with higher cumulative exceedance of eutrophication CLs (averaged over 3 and 30 years) generally showed higher TIN concentrations in runoff. The results provided evidence on the link between CL exceedances and empirical impacts, increasing confidence in the methodology used for the European-scale CL calculations. The results also confirm that emission abatement actions are having their intended effects on CL exceedances and ecosystem impacts.

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Aiming for sustainable development of food value chains several assessment methods are developed, however it seems challenging to go from assessment to actual change. A solution proposed is increased stakeholder involvement also in the assessment phase. The perspective on sustainability varies depending on several variables, among which the geographical context where the producers are located. The perspective of the latter is of paramount importance as these are the actors on who, ultimately, possible changes towards sustainability depend. In this article, we applied a qualitative approach to investigate the farmers’ perspective on sustainability, in the horticultural production in Arctic Norway. We found that many of the premises for sustainable food production are present. The main challenges are lack of long-term planning, dependency of rented land as well as fluctuating yield and income. Producer’s network is essential for development as well as introduction of technical improvements. The study shows the importance of contextualisation of sustainability, as well as pointing at concerns about trade-offs between sustainability dimensions and themes in the proposed model. The research contributes to method development by demonstrating how a qualitative approach is a fruitful method to unravel the complexities of sustainability in food production.

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There is widespread agreement that society must urgently go over to renewable energy and that effective participation is crucial for a sustainable transition. Recent literature highlights that the quality of participatory planning is decisive for the acceptance of renewable energy technologies. However, social science research on the issue is dominated by single case studies and the quality of the participatory processes has been rarely studied across wider regional contexts. We present the results of a comparative qualitative inventory of innovative practices from 25 projects in 12 countries in three supra-national European regions. We assessed participation quality according to three analytical dimensions: rationale, inclusiveness, and participation level. An instrumental rationale, broad inclusiveness, and a participation level of consulting or informing was a combination that was commonly perceived as an innovative participatory practice in most regional contexts. We found a tendency towards more advanced practices in Western Europe, compared to Southern, and Eastern Europe. However, practices that were considered to be innovative in the latter regions still provide important lessons within their geographical contexts.

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Wildlife species living in proximity with humans often suffer from various anthropogenic factors. Here, we focus on the endangered Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis), which lives in close connection with humans in Lake Saimaa, Finland. This unique endemic population has remained landlocked since the last glacial period, and it currently consists of only ~400 individuals. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the Saimaa ringed seal, identify the main risk factors and discuss the efficacy of conservation actions put in place to ensure its long-term survival. The main threats for this rare subspecies are bycatch mortality, habitat destruction and increasingly mild winters. Climate change, together with small population size and an extremely impoverished gene pool, forms a new severe threat. The main conservation actions and priorities for the Saimaa ringed seal are implementation of fishing closures, land-use planning, protected areas, and reduction of pup mortality. Novel innovations, such as provisioning of artificial nest structures, may become increasingly important in the future. Although the Saimaa ringed seal still faces the risk of extinction, the current positive trend in the number of seals shows that endangered wildlife populations can recover even in regions with considerable human inhabitation, when legislative protection is combined with intensive research, engagement of local inhabitants, and innovative conservation actions. Such multifaceted conservation approaches are needed in a world with a growing human population and a rapidly changing climate.

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Traditional landscape photographs reaching back until the second half of the nineteenth century represent a valuable image source for the study of long-term landscape change. Due to the oblique perspective and the lack of geographical reference, landscape photographs are hardly used for quantitative research. In this study, oblique landscape photographs from the Norwegian landscape monitoring program are georeferenced using the WSL Monoplotting Tool with the aim of evaluating the accuracy of point and polygon features. In addition, the study shows how the resolution of the chosen digital terrain model and other factors affect accuracy. Points mapped on the landscape photograph had a mean displacement of 1.52 m from their location on a corresponding aerial photograph, while mapped areas deviated on average 5.6% in size. The resolution of the DTM, the placement of GCPs and the angle of incidence were identified as relevant factors to achieve accurate geospatial data. An example on forest expansion at the abandoned mountain farm Flysetra in Mid-Norway demonstrates how repeat photography facilitates the georectification process in the absence of reliable ground control points (GCPs) in very old photographs.