Reducing the effects of forest management to inland waters (REFORMWATER)

Principal investigator: Professor Jukka Pumpanen

Funding: WaterWorks2017 ERA-NET Cofund, April 1, 2019 – March 3, 2022


As the demand for wood and renewable energy sources is increasing, there is an ongoing pressure to use the large timber stock on drained peatlands. This has consequences on inland water quality. The aim of this study is to quantify the effects of current management practices (harvesting and subsequent ditch network maintenance) on peatland forests on the transport of dissolved organic matter to aquatic systems and consequent greenhouse gas emissions. We will also study alternative forest management techiques such as continuous cover forestry to reduce the DOM load to inland waters. We will test the potential of biochar to decrease the DOM and nutrient load on aquatic systems. Finally, we develop state-of-the art process-modelling techniques for assessing the effects of forest management practices on water quality in peatland-dominated catchments, and for optimizing the production in such a way that enables wood production while keeping the adverse environmental impacts to a minimum.

The project is based on field experiments where the effects of different forest management techniques on water quality are tested. We carry out detailed laboratory experiments for determining the effect of DOM quality on greenhouse gas production from aquatic systems. The project is based on multidisciplinary collaboration between foresters, soil scientists and limnologists from Finland (University of Eastern Finland, University of Helsinki), Sweden (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå)), Estonia (University of Tartu) and Ireland (University College Dublin.