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Forestry Practices Increase Mercury and Methyl Mercury Output from Boreal Forest Catchments

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journal contribution
posted on 18.04.2003, 00:00 authored by Petri Porvari, Matti Verta, John Munthe, Merja Haapanen
We observed significant increases in the runoff output of total mercury (TotHg) and methyl mercury (MeHg) from a small spruce forest catchment (0.071 km2) after clear-cutting and soil treatment. Here we show that forest regeneration practices may act as an important additional source of TotHg and MeHg to forest lakes. TotHg and MeHg in runoff from two small forested catchments were monitored during the period 1994 to 2001. In the autumn of 1997, one of the catchments was clear-cut. Soil preparation (mounding) was carried out in the autumn of 1998 and replanting in the summer of 1999. During the 3 years after the silvicultural treatment, medians of monthly flow-weighted TotHg and MeHg concentrations (12.02 ng L-1 and 0.35 ng L-1, respectively) and output loads (0.80−0.97 g km-2 a-1 and 0.011−0.036 g km-2 a-1, respectively) increased significantly compared to the 3 years calibration period (8.13 ng L-1 and 0.15 ng l-1; 2.0−5.3 g km-2 a-1 and 0.11−0.16 g km-2 a-1, respectively). These results indicate that clear-cutting and/or soil treatment significantly increases the mobility of TotHg and MeHg accumulated in forest soil and may thus be an important factor for the total input of Hg to boreal freshwater ecosystems.