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Genetic aspects of air pollution and climate change

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Genetic aspects of air pollution.
  3. Genetic aspects of climate change.
  4. Knowledge gaps and research needs.
  5. Reliance on wild trees in agroforestry.
  6. Agroforestry as a science and in development.
  7. Conclusion.

The ?rst incidences of air pollution impacts on the genetic constitution of forest tree populations were those documented near point sources of sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulates, and heavy metals. Localized extinction of forests around these point sources was documented by ecologists in the past two centuries. In North America, the most spectacular of these areas were those surrounding ore smelters in Trail, British Columbia, Sudbury, Ontario, and Copper Basin, Tennessee. In Europe, the most dramatic areas included the Black Triangle area (of eastern Germany, Poland, and the then Czechoslovakia) which was largely due to soft coal burning in power plants and numerous situations where industrial facilities were located in valleys such that toxic emissions destroyed vegetation on the surrounding hillsides. With these early pollution problems, large areas of forests have simply been replaced by grasses or other tolerant vegetation.

[...] Recent trends in the focus of agroforestry research and extension are informative. We can chart its entry to the international stage, by the emergence of ICRAF, then the International Council for Research in Agroforestry, now the World Agroforestry Center, in 1978. This was 5 years after the Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education TIE), which pioneered research, education, and extension on agroforestry with perennial tree crops in Latin America, had come into existence. For the ?rst decade or so, the focus was on describing various traditional agroforestry practices around the world and developing methods for analyzing land use systems involving trees and their potential improvement paths, by drawing on contributing disciplines. [...]


[...] Knowledge Gaps and Research Needs Restoration of forests destroyed by severe air pollution (as in the region of the Black Triangle in Europe) remains a great challenge today, and there are currently no methods available to guide these restoration projects to recreate previous genetic diversity and genetic structure. Furthermore, reforestation under today's climate (light, temperatures, phenology, and moisture) and soil conditions (many former severely degraded areas by air pollution still have acidic soils or soils contaminated with heavy metals) may preclude simple replanting with single species. [...]


[...] Air pollution, climate change, forest trees, natural selection, biodiversity, adaptation, trembling aspen, red pine, silver ?r, tree breeding. SUMMARY The ?rst incidences of air pollution impacts on the genetic constitution of forest tree populations were those documented near point sources of sulfur dioxide particulates, and heavy metals. Localized extinction of forests around these point sources was documented by ecologists in the past two centuries. In North America, the most spectacular of these areas were those surrounding ore smelters in Trail, British Columbia, Sudbury, Ontario, and Copper Basin, Tennessee. [...]

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