Open-air Platform

Parent institution: University of Copenhagen
Active since 2000
Active through 2000-present

Co-located with

  • ICOS
  • LTER

Fields of study

  • Climatology, Climate Change
  • Environmental sciences, Pollution
  • Soil science
  • Terrestrial biology, Ecology
  • Hydrology

Contact Information

Vesterdal, Lars

At Vestskoven, two chronosequences of afforestation (one in oak (planted 2009, 1993, 1988, 1979, 1977, 1976, 1970, before 1800) and one in Norway spruce (planted 1997, 1990, 1988, 1976, 1973, 1970, 1969) planted on former cropland (i.e. representing land-use change) have been followed for >10 years.

Grassland sites are included in measurements on soil and arable land is represented by one cropland field and a major agricultural research station (within 1 km) run by another Copenhagen University institute. All sites are situated on a flat homogeneous plain within a c.1-2 km radius. The influence of land-use change on water quantity and quality, carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions and ground vegetation has been followed. In 2011 the chronosequence was resampled to validate the trends predicted by the chronosequence approach. Within each forest stand three replicate measurement plots (radius 10 m) were established. A total of 45 circular plots have been established with soil properties addressed in all while e.g. hydrological budgets and non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions were studied in a subset of plots. Additional plots and gradients have been established for short term investigations. One oak stand (planted 1970) is monitored continuously in three replicates (ICP Forests level II plot, see

The Location

Country: Denmark

Latitude: 55.701111

Longitude: 12.350556

Nearest town: Albertslund

Distance from neaerst town: 5 km

Relevant Research Questions

The Vestskoven site is a unique platform to study land-use change effects related to afforestation of former cropland on ecosystem functioning. Two chronosequences in oak and Norway spruce enable tracking the influence of cropland to forest conversion of planting coniferous of deciduous tree species, respectively. The site also enables studies of land undergoing natural succession after abandonment of agriculture. Changes in ecosystem functioning may be assessed by 1) Space-for-time substitution approach (i.e. using the chronosequences) or 2) Repeated sampling of ecosystem processes in georeferenced and permanently marked plots.


The experimental platform is unique in the number of differently aged stands as well as the possibility to address afforestation using two tree species with contrasting traits. This platform is different from single plot studies in its multi-plot characteristic facility. 


There is limited current technical infrastructure to address climate change x land-use change interaction. Substantial upgrades needed to support the planned activities:

- mobile FACE experiment in cultivation stage (first decade after afforestation).

- a number of LI-COR autosystems to cover temporal variability in Rs/Rh combined with Picarro CO2, CH4, N2O analyzer to gauge the spatial variability in tree specis plots. Chambers for partitioning of soil respiration fluxes.

- upgraded climate station.

- manipulation of climate (precipitation and possibly temperature) within recently planted (mixed) stands.

- mobile FACE installation in recently planted stands.

- litterfall manipulations to address effects of changed inputs on SOC dynamics.

- Mini-rhizotrons for in depth studies of land-use change, climate change and tree species interaction effects on root biomass and turnover

Experimental Capabilities

Experimental Facilities

A consistent and rigorous design with good documentation of previous land-use history.

Experiments duration: Months, Years, Weeks;

Experimental Aerea

Total area: 17000 m²

This is the total area of the 15 studied stands and cropland and grassland plots.

Available area: 15000 m²

Experimental Unit Size

unit size: 320 m²

Area of one replicate subplot with 10 m radius


Replicates number: 3

The number of replicate plots per stand/ land use

Cross-Ecosystem Manipulation

Between different land uses of cropland, grassland and forest.

Manipulation Techniques

Chronosequence as well as repeated sampling approaches (land-use change and tree species). Chronosequences in two tree species to manipulate species effects on ecosystem functioning.

Temporary storage

  • Dark room
  • Drying oven
  • Freezer
  • Refrigerator

Available Instruments

  • time-domain reflectometry
  • IRGA
  • soil moisture and temperature probes
  • suction cup lysimeters for soil solution sampling
  • litter traps
  • methane and nitrous oxide sampling kit for lab GC analysis

Electricity available on site.

Distance from Laboratory facilities


Years measured: 18


Mean Temperature: 9.2 °C

February Mean Temperature: 1 °C

July Mean Temperature: 18.3 °C


Mean Annual Speed: 3.5 m/s

Max. Annual Speed: m/s

Dominant Direction: SSW


Precipitation type: Both;

Total annual precipitation: 692 mm

Mean snow cover duration: days

Soil Types

State Variables

Continuously Measured

  • Air humidity
  • Air temperature
  • Soil temperature
  • Soil water content

Spot Measured

  • Phenology
  • Population densities
  • Species richness
  • Soil chemistry, stand biometrics, soil solution chemistry

Environmental Pressures

Variable Ecosystem Status
Precip Forest Planned
Management - species and/or ecotype combinations Forest Active
Precip Grassland Planned

On site Staff and Accomodation

Peak season staff

No on-site staff.

Off season staff

Up to 1 people

Visiting personnel

Up to 5 visitors

No beds on site

No showers on site

No laundry on site