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2016 | Book

The Sustainable Role of the Tree in Environmental Protection Technologies

Authors: Edita Baltrėnaitė, Pranas Baltrėnas, Arvydas Lietuvninkas

Publisher: Springer International Publishing


About this book

This monograph describes ways of using trees and their byproducts in environmental protection technologies and methodologies throughout their lifecycles. The tree, the planet’s main source of biomass, is an indispensable tool for sustainable technologies, and the authors present a holistic picture of how and why in this volume.

The authors describe the indispensable role of the living tree in phytoremediation and biomonitoring and detail the relationship of the tree with its surrounding ecosystem. The direct and indirect relationships of a tree at its vegetation period with various components of the ecosystem (i.e. atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and soil) contribute to the role of a tree as the medium for integrating aerogenic and edaphic pollutants. Trees phytostabilize pollutants in their organisms and remove them from the soil. The ability of some species of trees to reflect the quality of the environment makes a basis for the environmental bioindication, while quantitative representation of the chemical composition of the surrounding environment allows for the use of trees in biomonitoring. Morphological features of trees (e.g. annual tree rings) allow us to observe environmental conditions in the past and retrospectively evaluate them.

This monograph also details how wood products (e.g. biochar, chips, bark, etc.) of a tree after it has died are used in environmental technologies.

Due to the specific morphological form and physical and chemical composition of wood products, they may be used as active materials in the technologies aimed at reducing pollution in an effective and sustainable manner.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Tree in Earth’s Terrestrial Ecosystems
This chapter briefly reviews the main functions of tree in Earth’s ecosphere, analyzes the overall geological carbon cycle, rates of Earth’s biogeochemical circulation, the main reservoirs of carbon in the lithosphere and ecosphere, and the assessed expected carbon leakage to the stratosphere. Approximately 90 % of the world’s carbon (900 Gt) accumulated by terrestrial vegetation is absorbed by forest ecosystems, which represent a short-term reservoir of the world’s terrestrial carbon and serve as an additional means of preventing the accumulation of CO2, a component of the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere. Without going into a detailed description of forest functions, which are discussed thoroughly in specialized works, attention should be paid to the three closest topics of the book: the phytoremediation function of forests, the ecological soil protection function of forests, and the use of wood and wood products as structural materials and fillers in modern air and water treatment equipment. The life cycle of tree is analyzed as a universal tool for assessing the impact of manufactured products and technologies. The chapter presents a technological scheme for afforestation, which is the remediation of soil contaminated with metals, a comparison of phytoremediation costs and environmental protection benefits for forests, and a summary diagram evaluating the costs and benefits of the life cycle of tree as applied to forests planted for the purposes of phytoremediation and biochar production.
Edita Baltrėnaitė, Pranas Baltrėnas, Arvydas Lietuvninkas
Chapter 2. Contamination Features of Ecosystem Components in a Forested Surrounding Environment
One expert in environmental protection has suggested that a number of direct and indirect links can be found between trees and the chemical composition of other components of an ecosystem, which makes it possible to assess the importance of trees in the active soil–plant–atmosphere system of pollutant transfer ‘and evaluate the significance of trees as a means of reducing and stabilizing environmental pollution as well as an indicator of environmental quality. This capability of trees has been established by the well-known interaction between trees and the surrounding environment as one of the main expressions of ecogeochemistry laws, taking into account that the chemical composition of trees as components of an ecosystem directly depends on the geochemical status of the ecosystem.
Edita Baltrėnaitė, Pranas Baltrėnas, Arvydas Lietuvninkas
Chapter 3. Biogeochemical Aspect of Metal Uptake by Trees
The This chapter discusses the access of metals to ecosystems and mechanisms for entering trees. The transfer of metals from soil (also owing to an aerogenic load of metals) to trees should be steady; however, external or internal factors determine the investigated system. Environmental pollution, in terms of trees, acts as a stressor as it is classified as an external, ecological, and abiotic factor. Tree diseases are a no less important example of biotic factors and are among the consequences of climate change, attracting attention to the sustainability of forest management. This chapter deals with examples of abiotic and biotic factors, discusses the biological uptake of metals in wood, and examines the differences and peculiarities of metal bioavailability, bioaccumulation, and biophilicity in trees.
Edita Baltrėnaitė, Pranas Baltrėnas, Arvydas Lietuvninkas
Chapter 4. Biogeochemical and Functional Traits of a Tree in Metal-Contaminated Territory
Long-term biogeochemical processes occurring in nature are usually judged by their outcome, i.e., the products received in the course of certain biogeochemical reactions. Quality assurance of their result depends on mastering methodological and analytical methods. To this end, the chapter starts with an introduction of the methods used for determining metal content in wood. The exact determination of metal concentrations in the components of the soil–tree system forms the basis for identifying the level of contamination in a wood environment and a valid response of the tree to interpreting pollution. Using the method for the functional traits of trees, effective answers to the following (and other) questions can be found: What is the content of metals accumulated in the biomass of wood? Which morphological part of the tree has the highest content of metals? How does the technological modification of soil change the capacity of the tree?.
Edita Baltrėnaitė, Pranas Baltrėnas, Arvydas Lietuvninkas
Chapter 5. The Role of Trees in Ecotechnologies
This chapter presents the ecotechnological advantages of using trees. In this case, the ecotechnological application of trees is presented as the assessment of the role of trees within their vegetative period in ecosystems using mathematical tools. The chapter describes a method, created by the authors, of dynamic factors to assess biophilicity, bioavailability, bioaccumulation, translocation of chemical elements, and phytoremediation effects. Mathematical models of chemical elements (with a focus on metals) in the transfer system atmosphere–soil–tree–atmosphere–soil provide the possibility of predicting the load of contamination from both stationary and diffuse pollution sources entering the tree environment, the uptake and bioaccumulation of chemical elements in the main morphological parts of a tree, and the potential for using trees in phytotechnologies.
Edita Baltrėnaitė, Pranas Baltrėnas, Arvydas Lietuvninkas
Chapter 6. Use of Wood Products for Water and Soil Quality Improvement
This chapter deals with the life cycle of trees where the process of using manufactured wood waste in ecotechnologies takes place, thereby recovering valuable components of a wood product (e.g., biochar) and converting some waste into raw materials (e.g., using ash for reclaiming soil). Two products of the thermal treatment of wood, including a solid product of wood pyrolysis (biochar) and its full oxidation product (ash), as well as their use in environmental protection engineering and agriculture, are examined. Recent years have seen a major increased interest in biochar owing to the greater stability of carbon compounds and characteristics improving the properties of soil and forming the advantages of biochar in light of the problems related to climate change and soil fertility. The assessment of the composition of the different types of wood ash is a separate topic. In the case of fire, ash determines changes in the chemical composition of soil. Along with an increase in the use of biofuel in energetics (in Lithuania in particular), the utilization of combustion products raises environmental concerns. The chapter describes the concentrations of metals in the ash of different trees and environmental risk.
Edita Baltrėnaitė, Pranas Baltrėnas, Arvydas Lietuvninkas
Chapter 7. The Use of Wood Products for Improving Air Quality
This chapter further explores the application of wood waste and recovered products in environmental protection but is more focused on the systems for environmental protection engineering where the use of wood products and waste, with respect to the principles of sustainable development, is more favorable owing to lower costs, greater availability, or even more powerful environmental effects compared to other popular materials.
Edita Baltrėnaitė, Pranas Baltrėnas, Arvydas Lietuvninkas
The Sustainable Role of the Tree in Environmental Protection Technologies
Edita Baltrėnaitė
Pranas Baltrėnas
Arvydas Lietuvninkas
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