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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Water chemistry in 179 randomly selected Swedish headwater streams related to forest production, clear-felling and climate

Löfgren, Stefan; Fröberg, Mats; Yu, Jun; Nisell, Jakob; Ranneby, Bo


From a policy perspective, it is important to understand forestry effects on surface waters from a landscape perspective. The EU Water Framework Directive demands remedial actions if not achieving good ecological status. In Sweden, 44 % of the surface water bodies have moderate ecological status or worse. Many of these drain catchments with a mosaic of managed forests. It is important for the forestry sector and water authorities to be able to identify where, in the forested landscape, special precautions are necessary. The aim of this study was to quantify the relations between forestry parameters and headwater stream concentrations of nutrients, organic matter and acid-base chemistry. The results are put into the context of regional climate, sulphur and nitrogen deposition, as well as marine influences. Water chemistry was measured in 179 randomly selected headwater streams from two regions in southwest and central Sweden, corresponding to 10 % of the Swedish land area. Forest status was determined from satellite images and Swedish National Forest Inventory data using the probabilistic classifier method, which was used to model stream water chemistry with Bayesian model averaging. The results indicate that concentrations of e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus and organic matter are related to factors associated with forest production but that it is not forestry per se that causes the excess losses. Instead, factors simultaneously affecting forest production and stream water chemistry, such as climate, extensive soil pools and nitrogen deposition, are the most likely candidates The relationships with clear-felled and wetland areas are likely to be direct effects.


Water chemistry; Headwater streams; Boreal landscape; Forestry; Representative sampling; Probabilistic classifying

Published in

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
2014, volume: 186, number: 12, pages: 8907-8928
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Fröberg, Mats
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Yu, Jun
Umeå University
Nisell, Jakob
Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Economics

Associated SLU-program


Sustainable Development Goals

SDG6 Clean water and sanitation

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Soil Science
Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


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