Identification of *hot-spots* for methyl mercury production after forest clear-cut - a multidisciplinary approach providing a scientific basis for practical guidelines

Project leader

Funding source

Formas - The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2010
End date: 31/12/2012
Funding: 3864000 SEK


Methyl mercury (MeHg) is a neurotoxin formed by iron(III) and sulfate reducing bacteria in wetlands and discharge areas. Clear-cutting leads to enhanced area of superficial ground water and recent estimates suggest that the contribution of forestry practices to formation and accumulation of MeHg in fish may be as high as 25%. Because of this, the forestry sector is in urgent need of scientifically justified practical guidelines for forest management practices. Do buffer zones close to streams mitigate production and export of MeHg? What effects have skid tracks in re- and discharge areas? Today knowledge about factors and processes in control of MeHg production, degradation and mobilization as a consequence of clear-cutting largely is lacking, and therefore no recommendations can be given. This project is a multidisciplinary collaboration where leading research groups combine state-of-the-art chemical speciation techniques for Hg/MeHg, S, Fe and Hg stable isotope determination and molecular scale microbiological techniques to determine in the activity of methylating bacteria. The aim is to provide principle knowledge in order to identify processes and "hot-spots" in the landscape responsible for production and down stream export of MeHg. The project actively involves actors from the forestry sector and the results will be communicated at annual seminars, in journals and during a two-day national workshop when practical forest management guidelines will be in focus.

External Partners

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:54