BioSoil project – biodiversity component

The BioSoil project was a pan-European demonstration project, part of the programme of the International Co-operative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Forests (ICP Forests).

Forest biodiversity

Within the effort to develop guidelines for assessing and estimating the loss of forest biodiversity in Europe the BioSoil project aimed to select and test simple and suitable indicators of forest biodiversity at stand as well as European level with the scope for a large scale monitoring system for Europe.

Following a meeting of biodiversity experts from the Member States in co-operation with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, the biodiversity survey was based on a stand structure approach which assumes an increased potential for biological diversity with increasing complexity of the forest stand.

Assessment details

The forest type for each plot was classified according to the age, origin and composition of the stand and any known previous land-use and stand management information.

The main focus of the stand structure approach was on structural forest diversity measured as:

  • Diameter at breast height (dbh) and species composition of all woody plants, including living trees, standing dead or lying dead
  • Deadwood, snags, stumps and coarse woody debris and their decay state
  • Canopy characteristics such as canopy closure and number of tree layers.

To complement the structural parameters, the vascular plant communities of the ground vegetation were also assessed according to the Flora Europaea, bryophytes or lichens were not considered on this occasion.

More details on objectives and methodology can be found in:

BioSoil Forest Biodiversity Field Manual (PDF-294K)

The biodiversity survey was carried out by surveyors from the extensive network of field stations of Forest Research's Technical Services Unit in 2006 and 2007.

The biodiversity survey data was submitted to the European Commission's Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES) in Ispra, Italy, for a joint analysis for all Member States.