[en] The critical load concept is now widely used as a tool for developing emission control policies in Europe. As a signatory country of the Convention of Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, critical loads for acidity, nutrient nitrogen, nitrogen and sulphur have been calculated for the Flemish and Walloon regions in Belgium. This paper describes the methodology used for estimating critical loads for forest soils in the Walloon region according to the Steady-State Mass Balance equations. As an example the methodology was applied to the catchment `Waroneu', situated in a sensitive area of the Haute Ardenne. Main input parameters to the equations were derived from precipitation and runoff data of the catchment study. Improved estimates of nitrogen uptake (Nu) and base cation uptake (BCu) were obtained by intensive sampling of Picea abies and Quercus robur trees. Nutrient contents (Ca, Mg, K, N) and nutrient to nitrogen ratios of Picea abies reflected the poor soil quality at a site with high N deposition. Quercus robur nutrient contents increased from stem to higher order branches with a high proportion of nutrients located in the bark. However the simulation of stem only harvesting had a minor effect on critical loads. Measured wood densities were lower than reported literature values with a main effect on Nu and BCu estimates. The use of recommended default values and/or data derived from the experimental site resulted in a wide range of critical loads, some of which were largely overestimated. Results demonstrated the importance of site specific data for critical load calculations.
Région wallonne : Direction générale des Ressources naturelles et de l'Environnement - DGRNE ; Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS