Forest Greenhouse Gas Management


Project code

Contract no. 111 / 05.10.2011

05.10.2011 – 03.10.2016

1170000 RON

Financed by UEFSCDI

Unitatea Executiva pentru Finantarea
Invatamantului Superior, a Cercetarii,Dezvoltarii si Inovarii


Olivier Bouriaud
Daniel Turcu
Cosmin Bragă
Gheorghe Guiman
Laurentiu Ciobanu
Marius Teodosiu
Ionuț Ștefan
Gheorghe Ștefan
Mihai Lupescu

Scientific context and motivation

While the level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has been continuously rising over the last three decades, there are hopes that the land use sector could contribute to mitigating the emissions of GHG via carbon sequestration in soils and bioenergy production (IPCC AR4 WG3 2007, UNFCCC 2008). Indeed, the terrestrial biosphere has absorbed 13% of the fossil fuel emission of EU-25 over the last decade (Schulze et al. 2008) mainly through forests and grasslands sinks. The importance of estimating the sinks strength and their resilience to climate change was further stressed by the demand from some countries to separate C sources and sinks from anthropogenic ones during post-Kyoto Protocol negotiations.

Drivers of carbon and GHG fluxes are numerous, both natural and human, interacting in a complex manner. They became a priority for many researchers in the last decade, and many programs were aiming at both quantifying and understanding the GHG fluxes and their drivers. Despite the efforts, many aspects remain unknown. Meanwhile, the scientific community is being asked what management changes could be implemented in order to improve the GHG balance and improve the mitigation although many aspects of the GHG fluxes are not understood. The spatial and temporal variability of the GHG sources and sinks from terrestrial ecosystems should be further studied. This is the aim of the EU funded FP-7 project “GHG Europe” ( aiming at determining how and to what degree the carbon cycle and GHG emissions in terrestrial ecosystems can be managed. The underlying idea is to manage GHG fluxes through terrestrial ecosystems management.

With around 7 million hectares of forest, Romania has a huge potential for mitigation through carbon sequestration. The country signed the Kyoto Protocol in January 2001 with a target reduction value of 8% during the first commitment period 2008-2012. The need for actual data is obvious, as the country needs to report on GHG inventory every year. But Romanian forests feature special situations that make such an inventory both of great value and challenging. First because a very large amount of forests are natural, that is, with none or very low direct anthropic influence. Second, because there are quite many changes land use, largely due to forest restitution to the former owners and agriculture’s current deep changes. Land use changes represent a tremendous factor for GHG emissions at large scale (Rounsevell et al. 2006, Smith et al. 2005). It can potentially offset the gains from forest growth and should be the closely monitored and accounted for in order to produce realistic GHG budgets and predictions.

The importance of Romania, which remain remains a largely under-sampled region, for European-level studies was acknowledged by the inclusion of a team from the Forest Research and management Institute within the consortium of the FP-7 project GHG Europe in the WP3 package “Impact of land management on the regional scale GHG balance of selected, data rich regions in Europe”. Within this project, the task is to set up a management gradient within beech forests in order to study the impact of management on the GHG budget in beech forests. For this purpose, a gas chromatography laboratory is being set up, which will enable the in situ measurement of the soil fluxes of the main gazes: CO2, CH4 and N2O sampled by respiration chambers. A management gradient was put in place in beech forests, which will permit to quantify the influence of the forest management on GHG fluxes. The management gradient covers a wide range of management types, from even-aged to uneven-aged or multi-aged stands, having soil and growth conditions variability minimized.

The present project proposal simply aims at expending the existing gradient to sites and conditions of great relevance and typical for Romanian forests: afforestation, deforestation and natural forest sites.


The objective of the project is to estimate the impact of the forest management on the GHG fluxes of forest ecosystems.

The aim is to create a complete forest management gradient, including some of the extreme situations that are rarely encountered or not documented, and to obtain experimental measurements of the GHG pools and fluxes.

The management gradient that was settled within GHG Europe is focused on beech, which is the first species in Romania in terms of volume, and is also very widespread in Europe, therefore being of great relevance both at national and European scale. This gradient is constituted of 12 plots so far, selected to be representative of classical beech stands, but also with severe constraints on the maximum distance between them for manageability and economic reasons. The plots selected are representative of a typical forestry management in its diversity, with contrasting frequency and the intensity of the interventions (thinnings, cuttings) realized throughout the life of the stands.

But this gradient misses extreme sites, and first natural forest sites that would embody the extremity of the management gradient, the true reference for any study on management: a zero management or “control” stand. Romania, with over 200,000 ha over natural forest, offers this possibility. Moreover, there is a debate on the capacity of old growth and natural forests to act as a carbon sink (Knohl et al. 2003, Luyssaert et al. 2008, Gleixner et al. 2009), while many scientists rather consider them as carbon neutral. Gathering experimental data will permit to further clarify the status of natural forests in Europe and of their behaviours.

The two other site types intended to complete the existing gradient are related to the land use change issue, which is known to be critical over Europe but is particularly important in Eastern Europe with ownership changes process still ongoing. Again, the lack of experimental data has been a real issue for the scientific community. The project will therefore aim to provide with direct field observations.

Thus, the forest management gradient constituted will be very complete and will enable to study the numerous aspects of the management using unique methodology and cutting edge equipment developed for the FP-7 project. It will benefit from the specificities of the Romanian forests that offer the possibility to integer natural forests stands -which can hardly be found in Western Europe- and afforestation or deforestation situations in close environmental conditions.

The monitoring of the GHG fluxes will likely permit to gain knowledge on the influence of climate over the fluxes. Obviously, it is not possible to foresee what the weather will be like in the next three years and ensure that extreme weather events would be covered by the study. But any anomaly would be surveyed and could bring a lot of lessons: a hot wave, drought or extreme precipitations.

Methods and approach

A large component of the project will be the acquisition of experimental (field and laboratory) data. The data will enable to estimate the fluxes and stocks in situ along the complete forest management gradient set up. A monitoring throughout the year is needed to enable the estimation of the annual budgets. The data processing for the analysis of the management impact is rather straightforward, and the extrapolation of the results can be ensured by a careful selection of the plots having strict representativity criteria.

The main terrestrial compartments storing or emitting carbon are vegetation and soils. The estimation of the magnitude of sinks and sources of carbon in forests can be achieved by analysing the current distribution of carbon in storage soil and vegetation pools. Soils represent roughly 50% of the pool in temperate forests (Pregitzer and Eushirchen 2004). The remaining part is the aboveground biomass. The analysis of the stocks and their dynamics, and thus of the fluxes, should be done by using two complementary approaches focusing each on a compartment. The fluxes are estimated after chromatography. The aboveground biomass and its dynamic will be studied by biometrical and dendrochronological studies for which the project leader has a long experience. The standing biomass can be converted into carbon stocks (the national project “Nucleu” that aimed at developing national-level biomass equations for the major species in Romania offers the models and tools to do so -cf. section B2), the dynamic of which being studied by inventory comparison and dendrochronology for retrospective analysis. The soil fluxes reflect the dynamic of the soil pools and are studied by use of respiration chambers. Sample gas will be taken from permanent manual chambers using the same equipment and methodology as those in use in the GHG Europe project.

From all GHGs, carbon-based molecules such CO2 and methane are from far the most studied but nitrous oxide should not be neglected as its contribution to the greenhouse effect are very substantial. Gas chromatographs recently permitted a routine measurement of these trace gases, in the concentration and conditions of the ambient air, but are still amply custom-made. The equipment will be set up within the context of the GHG Europe project as part of its WP3 objectives. The tight collaboration with the team of the Johan Heinrich von Thünen Institute highly specialized in chromatography, namely with Annette Freibauer and the gas chromatograph specialist Roland Fuß will ensure the quality of the work.

In fact, the entire methodology is directly derived from the on-going GHG Europe project. This will ensure a better inter-comparison with the prevailing studies, more compatibility and complementarity. Interactions with modellers who can use the data further to either test or develop their models are clearly intended in the project.


BDI Articles

  • Turcu D.O., Merce O., Cântar I.C., Cadar N. 2013. Research on litter and humus amounts in a beech natural forest. Journal of Horticulture, Forestry and Biotechnology, 17(2). Vol. 17 No. 2 pp. 181-184.
  • Turcu D.O. 2013. Tree Mortality Processes in Natural Forests – short review. Journal of Horticulture, Forestry and Biotechnology, 17(2). Vol. 17 No. 2 pp. 172-180.
  • Teodosiu M. 2014. Naturalitatea pădurii: concepte, caracteristici și implicații asupra conservării. Bucovina Forestieră, 14(1): 68-76.
  • Teodosiu M. 2014. Evaluarea gradului de naturalitate și a caracteristicilor structurale în rezervațiile Pădurea Voievodeasa și Codrul Secular Loben din Obcinile Bucovinei. Bucovina Forestieră, 14(1): 68-76.
  • Merce O., Borlea G.F., Turcu D.O. 2014. Definitions and structural attributes of the ecosystems from natural forests – short review. Journal of Horticulture, Forestry and Biotechnology, 18 (2) 2014 114-120, ISSN 2066-1797.
  • Turcu D.O., Merce O., Cantar I.C., Cadar N. 2014. Specific management measures for the beech forest habitats from Western Romania. Journal of Horticulture, Forestry and Biotechnology, 18(3): 83-86.
  • Turcu D.O., Merce O. 2014. Investigating forest canopies using modern field-based methods. Journal of Horticulture, Forestry and Biotechnology, 18(3), 77-82.
  • Bouriaud O., Marin G., Bouriaud L., Hessenmoeller D., Schulze E.-D. 2016. Romanian legal management rules limit wood production in Norway spruce and beech forests. Forest Ecosystems 3(1) 1-11.
  • Bragă C. 2016. Efectul intensităţii răriturilor asupra dinamicii sezoniere a fluxului de dioxid de carbon din sol. Revista Pădurilor, sub tipar.
  • Hessenmoeller D., Eisenhans A.S., Fritzlar D., Bouriaud O., Schulze E.-D. 2016. Growth and wood volume targets for uneven-aged beech-dominated selection forests in Thuringia, Germany. Forest Ecosystems, în evaluare.
  • Ștefan G., Marin G., Bouriaud L. 2016. Evaluarea volumului extragerilor necontrolate de arbori prin monitorizare multianuală în suprafețe de probă. Bucovina Forestieră, în evaluare.

ISI Articles

Book Chapter

  • Turcu D., Merce O, Tomescu R., Ponette Q. 2015. Densities of large trees in natural forests – A key structural characteristic. Case study from Izvoarele Nerei Nature Reserve, SW Romania. In 15th International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference SGEM 2015,, SGEM2015 Conference Proceedings, ISBN 978-619-7105-37-7 / ISSN 1314-2704, June 18-24, 2015, Book3 Vol. 2, 455-462 pp.


  • COST Action FP1305 Biolink: linking belowground biodiversity to function in European forests. University of Reading, UK, 4-7 November, 2014.
    Can forest management influence on the soil GHG fluxes?
    Bragă C., Bouriaud O., Dincă L., Spârchez G.
  • COST Action STReESS: Studying Tree Responses to extreme Events: a SynthesiS. Estoril, Portugal, 22-23 October, 2014.
    Analyzing the time series of dendrometer data using routines in SAS and R.
    Bouriaud O., Deslauriers A., Rossi S., Simard S., Teodosiu M., van der Maaten E.
  • International Symposium “Forest and Sustainable Development” Brașov, Romania 24-25 October, 2014.
    Turcu D.O., Merce O. Densities of large trees in natural forests – a key structural characteristic. Case study from “Izvoarele Nerei” Nature Reserve, SW Romania.
    Merce O., Borlea G.F., Turcu D.O., Cantar I. C., Biris I.A., Deadwood volume and its correlation with stand composition in the ‘Runcu Grosi’ Nature Reserve

Scientific papers