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Front. For. Glob. Change, 08 May 2024
Sec. Forest Disturbance
This article is part of the Research Topic Assessment of Anthropogenic Pollution as a Cause of Forest Disturbance View all 5 articles

Editorial: Assessment of anthropogenic pollution as a cause of forest disturbance

  • 1Collaborative Innovation Center of Sustainable Forestry, College of Forestry, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
  • 2College of Resources and Environment, Henan University of Economics and Law, Zhengzhou, Henan, China
  • 3Key Laboratory of Watershed Earth Surface Processes and Ecological Security, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, Zhejiang, China
  • 4College of Landscape Architecture, Zhejiang A&F University, Zhuji, Zhengjiang, China
  • 5Department of Botany, School of Sciences, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, India

Since the industrial revolution, the global economy has developed rapidly, while at the same time, the global population has also grown rapidly. The phenomenon of soil desertification and sudden forest pollution has shifted from being dominated by natural environment to being dominated by human activities. Urbanization and industrialization are continuing to damage forest ecosystems, leading to a reduction in forest land, which will seriously affect the global carbon and nitrogen cycle and pose a huge threat to terrestrial ecosystems (Gurung et al., 2024). The types of anthropogenic pollution are complex, including substances that damage the functions of organisms, such as heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, as well as material phenomena that affect soil function and microbial community structure, such as abnormal carbon and nitrogen cycling in soil (Lorenz and Granke, 2009; Xie et al., 2020; Łyszczarz et al., 2021; Elrys et al., 2023). According to statistics, the global per capita forest area has decreased by more than 60% in the past 60 years, affecting 1.6 billion people worldwide, especially in all forest dependent developing countries. Both natural and human factors can affect the sustainable development of forests (Flores et al., 2024). Among them, the pollution caused by human interference to forests is long-term and difficult to self-repair (Gong et al., 2021; Łyszczarz et al., 2021).

Vegetation, as an important component of terrestrial ecosystems, is influenced by both natural environment and human activities. Clarifying the driving mechanisms of vegetation change is of great significance for surface ecological protection and achieving sustainable development goals. Xu et al. used net primary productivity (NPP) to analyze the spatiotemporal variability of vegetation dynamics in East Africa over the past 20 years and its correlation with climate factors. In addition, they combined the use of partial derivative analysis models to analyze different scenarios to distinguish the relative contributions of climate and human factors to NPP changes. Precipitation is the most positively contributing factor among all climate factors, while temperature has a significant negative contribution. In addition, human activities contribute more to the increase of NPP than climate change, and climate change has a greater impact on the decrease of NPP than human activities.

Studying carbon sources/sinks in desert ecosystems is of great significance for improving ecological degradation in desert regions. NPP and net ecosystem productivity (NEP) are important indicators for evaluating carbon storage in ecosystems, which can reflect the response of terrestrial ecosystems to climate change. Feng et al. used vegetation data, meteorological data, and improved CASA models to estimate the NPP and NEP in the Yulin region (a typical desertification reversal area in Maowusu sandy land) over the past 20 years. This study identified the spatiotemporal characteristics of NPP and NEP and their relationship with temperature and precipitation.

Agricultural protective forests play a positive role in ensuring food production and agricultural ecological security. The absence or degradation of protective forest structures may lead to a weakening of their protective effects. The maintenance and management system of protective forests has addressed these potential deficiencies. Deng et al. used the random forest algorithm to classify land cover in ZY-3 images, and validated the results using nine uniformly distributed training sample regions in the entire region. This method achieved a correct recognition rate of 94.9% within the training area.

Vegetation phenology can reflect vegetation climate interactions and carbon sink changes in ecosystems, which is crucial for understanding the temporal and spatial variability of vegetation phenotypes and driving climate determinants. Dang et al. analyzed the spatiotemporal changes of photosynthetic phenotypes extracted based on solar induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) and green phenotypes extracted based on enhancement vegetation index (EVI). The results indicate that photosynthetic phenols and green phenols are influenced by the same main factors. The greenness and photosynthetic phenology in spring are highly consistent with pre-season temperature and soil texture, while the greenness and photosynthetic phenology in autumn are slightly different from pre-season temperature and soil texture. This study will help to better understand the differences between vegetation greenness and changes in photosynthetic phenology, as well as their responses to climate factors.

This Research Topic emphasizes the specific impact of human activities on forest ecosystem functions, highlighting the enhancement of forest ecosystem functions through improving carbon sources and sinks and protecting forest systems. This helps to improve the interference of human activities on forest ecosystems and provides important scientific evidence for preventing forest environmental degradation and mitigating climate change.

Author contributions

YLi: Conceptualization, Data curation, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Project administration, Resources, Software, Supervision, Validation, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing. KL: Investigation, Writing – review & editing. ZJ: Investigation, Supervision, Writing – review & editing. YLiu: Investigation, Writing – review & editing. MF: Writing – review & editing.


The author(s) declare that financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. YLi was funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 42101079).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher's note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.


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Keywords: forest disturbance, human activities, risk assessment, soil pollution, model analysis

Citation: Li Y, Liu K, Jia Z, Liu Y and Faizan M (2024) Editorial: Assessment of anthropogenic pollution as a cause of forest disturbance. Front. For. Glob. Change 7:1404080. doi: 10.3389/ffgc.2024.1404080

Received: 20 March 2024; Accepted: 29 April 2024;
Published: 08 May 2024.

Edited and reviewed by: Randall Morin, Northern Research Station, Forest Service (USDA), United States

Copyright © 2024 Li, Liu, Jia, Liu and Faizan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Yan Li,

Disclaimer: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.