Ongoing land-use and management changes in various European mountain ecosystems may alter their role as important carbon reservoirs. For soil carbon in particular meaningful data on drivers, stocks and rates is scarce and thus predictive studies on the effect of land-use and management change on carbon stored in mountain ecosystems are highly uncertain. In addition, management is a major control on standing biomass in mountain forests but as for soil carbon, the data base is poor. Reliable data are not only needed for a more substantiated assessment of land-use and management effects on ecosystem carbon storage, but also for developing management recommendations, improved mechanistic modeling and, finally, the corresponding model application in the context of greenhouse gas reporting.
The project will provide carbon stocks and accumulation rates from both measurements and modeling for typical but climatically different mountain ecosystems in four European mountain ranges. The goal of the proposed research is a quantitative understanding of carbon change rates, their drivers, the implementation of results in to models currently used for national greenhouse gas inventories and, finally, the development of management recommendations for mountain ecosystems with respect to their carbon storage function. We will (i) sample soils and forest floor from well studied experimental adjacent sites differing in land-use (grasslands, forests) as well as experimental management gradients/types within grasslands and forests and make use (ii) of already existing data sets along land-use gradients. Sites span a wide range of edaphic, management, and climatic conditions in the Balkan Mountains, the Rhodope Mountains, Rila Mountains and the Alps. Auxiliary climate data for model application are available. These data will be used to derive carbon change rates for the different activities, information on the stability of sequestered carbon and to formulate management recommendations. Radiocarbon measurements of soil and roots from various sites will be used to derive carbon turnover rates.
The project builds on extensive previous experience with research projects on management, land-use and related carbon sequestration in cropland, grassland, abandonment, and forest ecosystems in the Alps and in Bulgarian mountains. The main deliverables of the project will be:
Knowledge rules, transfer functions and recommendations to policy makers,
Comprehensive data sets that allow for scaling up from the plot to a regional landscape level and thus to settle a close link between model validation, application, and improvement.
Validated mechanistic models to be used in national greenhouse gas reporting, sector land use, land use change and forestry, and
Tools for implementation of both reporting issues and management recommendations in Bulgaria and Switzerland.