Forest ecosystems are characterized by strongly ﬂuctuating conditions for tree growth and development. The Mediterranean region appears to be the most vulnerable to global change and atmospheric inputs. Mediterranean forest ecosystems in Croatia are of very high significance because of ecological functions they provide. Mediterranean forests are, besides of its multiple goods and services (water-related services, soil protection, and an exceptional richness in terms of biodiversity and unique non-wood forest products like aromatic plants, truffles, mushrooms, etc.) largely related to their environmental and social functions. The risk of impacts of air pollution, erosion, landslides and floods is being so high in this region. These risk factors combined with climate change is likely to affect nutrient turnover and nutrient availability, soil moisture and, ultimately, growth and primary productivity. These forest ecosystems cover almost half of Croatian total forest area and are probably the most endangered forest ecosystems in our country. Furthermore, forest research in the Mediterranean region has traditionally been handicapped by its fragmentation, limited means, and occasional outdating and isolation. In addition, the weakness in coordination at European level and scattered cooperation policies are minimizing the impact of research programs and jeopardizing their capacity to deliver efficient solutions properly. In this context, the challenge for all Mediterranean countries is to enhance their own capacities in research relevant to Mediterranean forests.
Considering all mentioned above, the objective of the proposed project is to establish and develop forest monitoring in Mediterranean forests that will give for the first time in Croatia the unique possibility to analyses not only the biogeochemical cycle of elements, at local scale, but also the assessment of the environmental impact of pollutants on forest ecosystems compartments, following the uptake and the fate, from the sources to the receptors. atmospheric deposition and ozone levels will be measured together with a suite of other variables including those related to soil and foliar nutrient, tree health, growth and crown condition combined with meteorological data at selected plots in Mediterranean forest ecosystems. We will get completely new but necessary missing information on atmospheric deposition, nutrient status, actual loads and ozone levels and its effects on forests. The added values of this research will be filling the gap in knowledge of our Mediterranean forest ecosystems and upgrading the gained knowledge with different statistical methods and future predictions in order to assess the condition of Mediterranean forest ecosystems. The results of this research and collaboration with Italian and French scientific institutions will contribute to the wider overview on impacts of atmospheric inputs in Mediterranean forests ecosystem of Eastern Adriatic coast at the regional and European level.