Forest monitoring in Europe and its importance to clean air policies and sustainable forest management.
Forest monitoring in Europe provides information relevant to clean air policies, political processes related to sustainable forest management (SFM), and regional forest policy-making. This holds true in particular for the International Co-operative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Forests (ICP Forests) of the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. ICP Forests reveals effects of air pollution on forests, conducts risk assessments, and assesses the effectiveness of air pollution abatement measures. Its results contribute to the scientific basis for clean air policies under CLRTAP. CLRTAP is a particular success story. Since 1980, emissions of SO2 have been reduced by 80% to 90%. Since 1990, emissions of NOx and VOCs were reduced by about 50%. One of the reasons for the successful implementation of CLRTAP is the close connection of monitoring, science, and policy. A driving factor has been public awareness of the threats of air pollution to human health, ecosystems, and materials. ICP Forests also develops models describing relationships between air pollution, carbon fluxes, climate change, and biodiversity and substantiates the positive effects of clean air policy on SFM. It provides information on several SFM indicators to the report State of Europe's Forests that, together with the outlook studies on the forest sector, contributes valuable input to forest policy-making.