Current issue: 56(4)
Under compilation: 57(1)
A range of different indices are available for assessing the health of trees in forests. An even larger range can be used for the assessment of the health of forest ecosystems. Most studies made in connection with ”forest decline” and the impact of air pollution and other environmental stresses on forests have concentrated on the assessment of crown transparency and crown discoloration in individual trees. These are non-specific indicators which are now known to be sometimes of relatively little value when determining the health of a forest ecosystem. Numerous problems exist with both, and the standardisation of assessments between and even within countries has not been achieved. Consequently, studies claiming to compare ”defoliation” between different countries cannot be substantiated. The emphasis on crown transparency and crown discoloration has resulted in the neglect of a number of other indices that could be of considerable value. These include a variety of visual measures of crown condition and also several non-visual bioindicators. Some of these techniques are objective, reducing the present reliance on observed standardization. A large number of potential techniques are currently at the research stage and have yet to be adequately tested in field trials. This represent an area where a substantial amount of further research is required.
The ongoing climate change may have a distinct effect on Norway spruce growth, one of the most important tree species in European forest management. Therefore, the understanding and assessment of climate-growth relationship can help to reveal relevant patterns in temporal variability that may result in lower tree vitality and decline. The main objective of our study was to evaluate the long-term climate-growth variability of Norway spruce in south-eastern Norway, at the northern edge of the temperate zone. We sampled in total 270 dominant and co-dominant trees from 18 plots in south-eastern Norway. We analysed stem cores and evaluated crown condition parameters to assess the retrospective tree growth and vitality. Despite considerable differences in the crown parameters, high similarity among tree-ring width (TRW) series allowed compiling the regional tree-ring width chronology. Correlations between TRW and climate parameters showed temporal instability in their relationship during the period 1915–2012. While we did not detect any significant relationships between TRW and climate parameters in the first half of the study period (1915–1963), a significant correlation between TRW and spring precipitation was observed for the period 1964–2012. This shift appeared concurrent with temperatures reaching above-average values compared to the average of the climate normal period 1961–1990.