A review of the literature on forest soil change in North America, Central Europe. Sweden, U.K., and Australia reveals that changes are occurring in both polluted and unpolluted sites at a greater rate than previously suspected. Acid deposition has played a major role in recent acidification in some areas of Europe and, to a more limited extent, in Sweden and eastern North America. However, rapid rates of soil acidification are occurring in western North America and Australia due to internal processes such as tree uptake and nitrification associated with excessive nitrogen fixation. The presence of extremely acid soils is not necessarily an indicator of significant acidic deposition, as evidenced by their presence in unpolluted, even pristine forests of the north-western U.S.A. and Alaska. Numerous studies in Sweden, Australia, and North America show the important effects of tree uptake and harvesting upon soil acidification in managed forests. Furthermore, arguments can be presented that harvesting takes a greater toll upon the pools of potentially limiting cations than leaching.
The rate at which soils are changing in some instances calls for a re-evaluation of the budget analyses used to predict soil change. Specifically, inter-horizon changes due to uptake and recycling by vegetation, the interactions of such changes with naturally- and anthropogenically-produced acids, and the effects of aluminium uptake and recycling need further evaluation and study.