Plants are continuously exposed to human air pollution, absorbing pollutants in their tissues. Trees can store pollutants in wood, in the annual growth rings, retaining traces of pollutants in the environment. Information on past pollution events are archived by trees, which dendrochemistry, a dendrochronological science combined with chemistry, is able to access. Many authors have suggested that trees could complement the conventional environmental monitoring: a forest archive of pollution events. However, the implications of trees occurrence in polluted areas on planning and management have not yet been discussed. In this article, we investigate whether forest archives exist and whether they should be integrated into the network of existing monitoring stations. We use a case study, the Veneto region of Italy, one of the most polluted areas in Europe, to examine the occurrence of trees around 28 industrial plants retrieved from a European pollution register. We propose planning actions to develop the latent potential of these forest archives for environmental monitoring, which society may benefit. We follow three steps: (a) assessing the cover and composition of tree canopies around the industrial plants, (b) inventorying the existing artificial air monitoring stations in order to discover whether pollutants around the industrial plants are already monitored, (c) assessing land use patterns in order to identify which are the receptors of air pollution and enhance the forest archive in the future. These spatial analyses are conducted in a 1-km radius buffer with the industrial plant as the centre. Results show that forest archives are available, with cover and composition suitable for dendrochemistry studies. Artificial monitoring stations are too far from industrial plants or have been installed recently, unable to provide historical data. Trees are an alternative source of pollution data. Receptors of air pollution include a diversity of urban, rural and agricultural lands, where forest archives can be managed and conserved through a variety of actions. Environmental protection agencies should value these trees, preserving them and accessing the records held in this forest archive. Similar inventories must be promoted in other industrialised regions of the world even at larger scales. Studies like this one should also be incorporated into landscape or urban planning processes.

Preserving air pollution forest archives accessible through dendrochemistry

Alterio, Edoardo;Rizzi, Andrea;Sitzia, Tommaso
Membro del Collaboration Group
2020

Abstract

Plants are continuously exposed to human air pollution, absorbing pollutants in their tissues. Trees can store pollutants in wood, in the annual growth rings, retaining traces of pollutants in the environment. Information on past pollution events are archived by trees, which dendrochemistry, a dendrochronological science combined with chemistry, is able to access. Many authors have suggested that trees could complement the conventional environmental monitoring: a forest archive of pollution events. However, the implications of trees occurrence in polluted areas on planning and management have not yet been discussed. In this article, we investigate whether forest archives exist and whether they should be integrated into the network of existing monitoring stations. We use a case study, the Veneto region of Italy, one of the most polluted areas in Europe, to examine the occurrence of trees around 28 industrial plants retrieved from a European pollution register. We propose planning actions to develop the latent potential of these forest archives for environmental monitoring, which society may benefit. We follow three steps: (a) assessing the cover and composition of tree canopies around the industrial plants, (b) inventorying the existing artificial air monitoring stations in order to discover whether pollutants around the industrial plants are already monitored, (c) assessing land use patterns in order to identify which are the receptors of air pollution and enhance the forest archive in the future. These spatial analyses are conducted in a 1-km radius buffer with the industrial plant as the centre. Results show that forest archives are available, with cover and composition suitable for dendrochemistry studies. Artificial monitoring stations are too far from industrial plants or have been installed recently, unable to provide historical data. Trees are an alternative source of pollution data. Receptors of air pollution include a diversity of urban, rural and agricultural lands, where forest archives can be managed and conserved through a variety of actions. Environmental protection agencies should value these trees, preserving them and accessing the records held in this forest archive. Similar inventories must be promoted in other industrialised regions of the world even at larger scales. Studies like this one should also be incorporated into landscape or urban planning processes.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.
Pubblicazioni consigliate

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3334727
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 9
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 8
social impact