Forest ecosystems play a key role in the ongoing global change as they possess a great proportion of terrestrial carbon and biodiversity. Their response to the large-scale environmental changes of our time such as anthropogenic air pollution, rising air temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and increasing occurrence of weather extremes (drought, heat, floods, storms etc.) have crucial implications for terrestrial flora, fauna and human societies.
Forests are growing in local, national, and global importance for ecosystem services such as timber production, water purification, carbon sequestration and soil erosion control. Although societal expectations of forest and forestry are expanding, the provision of these key ecosystem services is becoming more and more endangered. To assess the impact of global change on forest ecosystems and their resilience, long-term data series are indispensable to evaluate the status, new phenomena, trends and processes in forest ecosystems. These data series are the foundation for scientifically sound decision making. Consequently, the need for target-oriented cooperation within and between international monitoring networks is clear.
More than three decades of monitoring effects of air pollution within ICP Forests operating under the UNECE Air Convention have furnished a harmonized and standardized asset: long-term data series. These allow scientists, stakeholders and policy makers to assess the status, investigate the processes and forecast changes of European forest ecosystems and their functioning in a dynamic environment.