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Back to Los suelos de los hayedos de la Navarra húmeda, en buen estado de conservación

The soils of the beech forests of humid Navarre are in a good state of conservation.

Delia Rodríguez, researcher at Chemistry and Soil Science at the University of Navarra, has studied contamination in the Señorío de Bértiz.

09/12/11 10:32
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Delia Rodriguez PHOTO: Manuel Castells

According to a research developed at the department of Chemistry and Edaphology of the University of Navarra, the soils of the beech forests of the humid northeastern Navarra are in a good state of conservation.
This has been demonstrated by the Navarre geologist Delia Rodríguez in her doctoral thesis , in which she has studied the soils of the Señorío de Bértiz Natural Park. "Specifically, we have analyzed a 135-hectare area of mixed Atlantic forest with soils developed on mainly siliceous lithology," says the researcher.

Its work is part of the International Cooperation Program on Integrated Monitoring (ICP-IM), belonging to the Geneva Convention, where Bértiz is the only point of the Spanish network from which data is extracted.

In a basin of the Señorío, the specialist conducted 21 tastings to learn how the soils have been formed, mainly alisols and cambisols, in which, due to the influence of steep slopes, high rainfall and mild temperatures, the processes of erosion, clay illuviation and organic subject , loss of nutrients and acidification dominate.

According to Delia Rodríguez,"by measuring the presence of metallic elements in a hundred or so soil and rock samples, we found that the environmental condition of the forest was good. However, we also detected contributions of numerous toxic contaminants originated by human activity in more or less remote industrial regions or due to the logging that historically took place in the area".

Pollution from industrial activity and road traffic

Among the main heavy metals analyzed, the researcher from the School of Sciences of the University of Navarra highlighted chromium, copper, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead:"All of them show some enrichment caused by industrial activities, mining and, above all, by road traffic, one of the main sources of pollution at present", she emphasized.

Likewise, after carrying out a study of soil contamination during a period equivalent to two years of atmospheric inputs, her work has shown that although soils can act as a filter to "retain" the metallic pollutants released by humans into the atmosphere, in the case of the beech forests of northern Navarra this does not seem to be the case, "since these soils let these substances pass through and even release them as well as their own nutrients"."That is why it may be important to continue the joint research and determine the possible effects of contaminants on the soil and water systems, since both are closely related", concluded the geologist.