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Potential impact of forest harvesting on lake chemistry in south-central Ontario at current levels of acid deposition

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The potential impact of harvesting on lake chemistry was assessed for ~1300 lakes in south-central Ontario using a critical loads approach based on the steady-state water chemistry (SSWC) model. The critical load of acidity is currently only exceeded by bulk sulphate deposition in 9% of the lakes if harvesting does not occur. However, the percentage increases to 23%, 56%, and 72% under potential harvesting scenarios that assume wood-only (stem without bark), stem-only, or whole-tree harvesting, respectively. This increase in exceedance of critical load is due to the much lower base cation concentrations in lakes resulting from base cation removals during harvest. For example, only 0.3% of lakes will have Ca2+ concentrations <50 equiv.·L–1 if harvesting does not occur, whereas 52% of lakes will have Ca2+ concentrations <50 equiv.·L–1 if whole-tree harvesting occurs. Harvesting clearly has an enormous potential impact on lake chemistry, which will become more apparent as exchangeable base cation pools in soil decline and acid inputs can no longer be buffered.

La méthode des charges critiques basée sur le modèle stable de la chimie de l'eau (SSWC) nous a permis de déterminer l'impact potentiel de la récolte forestière sur ~1300 lacs du centre sud de l'Ontario. La charge critique d'acidité est actuellement dépassée par les dépôts bruts de sulfates dans seulement 9 % des lacs, en l'absence de récolte forestière. Cependant, dans les trois scénarios potentiels de récolte suivants, bois seul (troncs sans écorce), troncs seuls et arbres entiers, les pourcentages augmentent respectivement à 23 %, 56 % et 72 %. Cet accroissement du dépassement de la charge critique s'explique par des concentrations beaucoup plus faibles de cations basiques dans les lacs, à cause de leur retrait durant la récolte. Ainsi, seuls 0,3 % des lacs ont des concentrations de Ca2+ <50 equiv.·L–1 en l'absence de récoltes, alors que 52 % des lacs ont de telles concentrations lorsque les arbres entiers sont récoltés. La récolte forestière a donc un impact potentiel considérable sur la chimie des lacs, ce qui devient plus apparent à mesure que les réserves de cations basiques échangeables du sol diminuent et que les apports d'acides dans les lacs ne sont plus tamponnés.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2003

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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