Salim Belyazid

Salim Belyazid


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Physical Geography
Visiting address Svante Arrhenius väg 8
Room T 316
Postal address Inst för naturgeografi 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am a senior lecturer in environmental management with a specialization in multi-disciplinary systems analysis and dynamic modeling. I combine teaching and education on the subjects of dynamic modelling, ecosystem health and resilience, environmental change and stakeholder management. I am an applied systems analyst, meaning that I strive for my research and education to have direct societal impacts. I have a background in instrumentation engineering, environmental sciences and environmental chemical engineering. 


Teaching makes up around half of my time at the university. I can hardly overstate how inspiring and rewarding it is to work with our talented teachers and students on wide range of courses and themes.

Primarily,  I am responsible for the master's program in Environmental Management and Physical Planning. I am also responsible for the courses: Applied Environmental Modelling (a favorit of mine), Case studies in Environmental Impact Assessments (a hands on course closely applied to current societal projects), the Degree project in Environmental Science and Physical Planning, and the traineeship in Environmental Protection. 

I am invovled in a number of courses, such as Environemntal Management in Planning, International Environmental Issues and Environmental Protection and Management.


My research focuses primarily on the development and application of integrated, process based ecosystem models, aiming to inform policy about patterns of resource use that do not compromise ecosystem viability. Occasionally, I happily divert into anything systems analytical. Currently, I am most involved in research about water, carbon and nutrient balances in boreal and nemoral forest ecosystems and their responses to global change, the viability of a transition to the bio-based economy, and the links between resource scarcity and conflicts. 


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Eric McGivney (et al.).

    Forest soils are susceptible to anthropogenic acidification. In the past, acid rain was a major contributor to soil acidification, but, now that atmospheric levels of S have dramatically declined, concern has shifted towards biomass-induced acidification, i.e. decreasing soil solution pH due to tree growth and harvesting events that permanently remove base cations (BCs) from forest stands. We use a novel dynamic model, HD-MINTEQ (Husby Dynamic MINTEQ), to investigate possible long-term impacts of two theoretical future harvesting scenarios in the year 2020, a conventional harvest (CH, which removes stems only), and a whole-tree harvest (WTH, which removes 100 % of the above-ground biomass except for stumps) on soil chemistry and weathering rates at three different Swedish forest sites (Aneboda, Gardsjon, and Kindla). Furthermore, acidification following the harvesting events is compared to the historical acidification that took place during the 20th century due to acid rain. Our results show that historical acidification due to acid rain had a larger impact on pore water chemistry and mineral weathering than tree growth and harvesting, at least if nitrification remained at a low level. However, compared to a no-harvest baseline, WTH and CH significantly impacted soil chemistry. Directly after a harvesting event (CH or WTH), the soil solution pH sharply increased for 5 to 10 years before slowly declining over the remainder of the simulation (until year 2080). WTH acidified soils slightly more than CH, but in certain soil horizons there was practically no difference by the year 2080. Even though the pH in the WTH and CH scenario decreased with time as compared to the no-harvest scenario (NH), they did not drop to the levels observed around the peak of historic acidification (1980-1990), indicating that the pH decrease due to tree growth and harvesting would be less impactful than that of historic atmospheric acidification. Weathering rates differed across locations and horizons in response to historic acidification. In general, the predicted changes in weathering rates were very small, which can be explained by the net effect of decreased pH and increased Al3+, which affected the weathering rate in opposite ways Similarly, weathering rates after the harvesting scenarios in 2020 remained largely unchanged according to the model.

  • 2019. Veronika Kronnäs, Cecilia Akselsson, Salim Belyazid.

    Weathering rates are of considerable importance in estimating the acidification sensitivity and recovery capacity of soil and are thus important in the assessment of the sustainability of forestry in a time of changing climate and growing demands for forestry products. In this study, we modelled rates of weathering in mineral soil at two forested sites in southern Sweden included in a monitoring network, using two models. The aims were to determine whether the dynamic model ForSAFE gives comparable weathering rates to the steady-state model PROFILE and whether the ForSAFE model provided believable and useful extra information on the response of weathering to changes in acidification load, climate change and land use. The average weathering rates calculated with ForSAFE were very similar to those calculated with PROFILE for the two modelled sites. The differences between the models regarding the weathering of certain soil layers seemed to be due mainly to differences in calculated soil moisture. The weathering rates provided by ForSAFE vary seasonally with temperature and soil moisture, as well as on longer timescales, depending on environmental changes. Long-term variations due to environmental changes can be seen in the ForSAFE results, for example, the weathering of silicate minerals is suppressed under acidified conditions due to elevated aluminium concentration in the soil, whereas the weathering of apatite is accelerated by acidification. The weathering of both silicates and apatite is predicted to be enhanced by increasing temperature during the 21st century. In this part of southern Sweden, yearly precipitation is assumed to be similar to today's level during the next forest rotation, but with more precipitation in winter and spring and less in summer, which leads to somewhat drier soils in summer but still with increased weathering. In parts of Sweden with a bigger projected decrease in soil moisture, weathering might not increase despite increasing temperature. These results show that the dynamic ForSAFE model can be used for weathering rate calculations and that it gives average results comparable to those from the PROFILE model. However, dynamic modelling provides extra information on the variation in weathering rates with time and offers much better possibilities for scenario modelling.

  • 2018. Jon Petter Gustafsson (et al.).

    Long-term simulations of the water composition in acid forest soils require that accurate descriptions of aluminium and base cation chemistry are used. Both weathering rates and soil nutrient availability depend on the concentrations of Al3+, of H+, and of base cations (Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, and K+). Assessments of the acidification status and base cation availability will depend on the model being used. Here we review in what ways different dynamic soil chemistry models describe the processes governing aluminium and base cation concentrations in the soil water. Furthermore, scenario simulations with the HD-MINTEQ model are used to illustrate the difference between model approaches. The results show that all investigated models provide the same type of response to changes in input water chemistry. Still, for base cations we show that the differences in the magnitude of the response may be considerable depending on whether a cation-exchange equation (Gaines-Thomas, Gapon) or an organic complexation model is used. The former approach, which is used in many currently used models (e.g. MAGIC, ForSAFE), causes stronger pH buffering over a relatively narrow pH range, as compared to state-of-the-art models relying on more advanced descriptions in which organic complexation is important (CHUM, HD-MIN PLQ). As for aluminium, a fixed gibbsite constant, as used in MAGIC, SMART/VSD, and ForSAFE, leads to slightly more pH buffering than in the more advanced models that consider both organic complexation and Al(OH)(3) (s) precipitation, but in this case the effect is small. We conclude that the descriptions of acid-base chemistry and base cation binding in models such as MAGIC, SMART/VSD, and ForSAFE are only likely to work satisfactorily in a narrow pH range. If the pH varies greatly over time, the use of modern organic complexation models is preferred over cation-exchange equations.

  • 2018. Cecilia Akselsson, Salim Belyazid. Forest Ecology and Management 409, 67-73

    The contribution of forest harvesting to base cation losses and soil acidification has increased in recent years in Sweden, as the demand for bioenergy has increased and the sulphur deposition has decreased. Thus, new policy tools are required to evaluate the progress of the recovery from acidification, and as a basis for forest management recommendations. In this study we introduce and test a concept, Critical biomass harvesting. The concept builds on the concept Critical loads, which has been used world-wide for several decades as a bridge between science and policies related to transboundary air pollution and acidification. The basis for the concept is an acidity mass balance, with sources and sinks of acidity. A critical limit defines the highest acceptable acidification status of the water leaving the root zone. Based on the critical limit, the highest allowed biomass harvesting can be calculated, keeping the other parameters constant. In this study the critical limit was set to ANC (Acid Neutralizing Capacity) = 0. Nitrogen was assumed to be affecting acidity only if it leaches from the root zone. The critical biomass harvesting was calculated for almost 12000 National Forest Inventory sites with spruce and pine forest, using the best available data on deposition, weathering and nitrogen leaching. The exceedance of critical biomass harvesting was calculated as the difference between the estimated harvest losses and the critical biomass harvesting. The results were presented as median values in merged catchments in a catchment database, with totally 2079 merged catchments in Sweden. According to the calculations, critical biomass harvesting was exceeded in the southern half of Sweden already at stem harvesting in spruce forests. Whole-tree harvesting expanded the exceedance area, and increased the exceedance levels in southern Sweden. The exceedance in pine forest was lower and affected smaller areas. It was concluded that the concept of critical biomass harvesting can be successfully applied on the same database that has been used for critical load calculations in Sweden, using basically the same approach as has been extensively applied, evaluated and discussed in a critical load context. The results from the calculations in Sweden indicate that whole-tree harvesting, without wood ash recycling, can be expected to further slow down recovery, especially in the most acidified parts of the country, in the southwest.

  • 2018. Lin Yu (et al.). Ecological Modelling 369, 88-100

    In this study, a phosphorus (P) module containing the biogeochemical P cycle has been developed and integrated into the forest ecosystem model ForSAFE. The model was able to adequately reproduce the measured soil water chemistry, tree biomass (wood and foliage), and the biomass nutrient concentrations at a spruce site in southern Sweden. Both model and measurements indicated that the site showed signs of P limitation at the time of the study, but the model predicted that it may return to an N-limited state in the future if N deposition declines strongly. It is implied by the model that at present time, the plant takes up 0.50 g P m(-2) y(-1) of which 80% comes from mineralization and the remainder comes from net inputs, i.e. deposition and weathering. The sorption/desorption equilibrium of P contributed marginally to the supply of bioavailable P, but acted as a buffer, particularly during disturbances.

  • 2018. Therese Bennich (et al.). Sustainability 10 (4)

    A transition to a bio-based economy would entail change in coupled social-ecological systems. These systems are characterised by complexity, giving rise to potential unintended consequences and trade-offs caused by actions aiming to facilitate a transition process. Yet, many of the analyses to date have been focusing on single and predominantly technological aspects of the bio-based economy. The main contribution of our work is to the development of an integrated understanding of potential future transition pathways, with the present paper focusing specifically on terrestrial biological resources derived from the forestry sector in Sweden. Desired change processes identified include a transition to diversified forest management, a structural change in the forestry industry to enable high-value added production, and increased political support for the bio-based economy concept. Hindrances identified include the ability to demonstrate added values for end consumers of novel biomass applications, and uncertainty linked to a perceived high level of polarisation in the forestry debate. The results outline how these different processes are interrelated, allowing for the identification of high order leverage points and interventions to facilitate a transition to a bio-based economy.

  • 2018. Therese Bennich (et al.). Sustainability 10 (5)

    There is a growing interest in the bio-based economy, evident in the policy domain as well as in the academic literature. Its proponents consider it an opportunity to address multiple societal challenges, and the concept has broad reach across different sectors of society. However, a potential transition process is also linked to areas of risk and uncertainty, and the need for interdisciplinary research and for the identification of potential trade-offs and synergies between parallel visions of the bio-based economy have been emphasized. The aim of this paper is to contribute to addressing this gap by using an approach combining tools for systems analysis with expert interviews. Focusing specifically on dynamics in the agricultural sector in Sweden, an integrated understanding of the social and ecological processes contributing to or hindering a transition in this area is developed, high order leverage points are identified, and potential impacts of proposed interventions explored. The paper also considers cross-sectoral linkages between the forestry and agricultural sectors.

  • 2017. Therese Bennich, Salim Belyazid. Sustainability 9 (6)

    The bio-based economy has been increasingly recognized in the sustainability debate over the last two decades, presented as a solution to a number of ecological and social challenges. Its premises include climate change mitigation, cleaner production processes, economic growth, and new employment opportunities. Yet, a transition to a bio-based economy is hampered by risk factors and uncertainties. In this paper, we explore the concept of a bio-based economy, focusing on opportunities of achieving sustainability, as well as challenges of a transition. Departing from an understanding of sustainability provided by the weak and strong sustainability paradigms, we first outline the definition and development of the bio-based economy from a theoretical perspective. Second, we use Sweden as an example of how a transition towards a bio-based economy has been evolving in practice. The review indicates that the proposed direction and strategies of the bio-based economy are promising, but sometimes contradictory, resulting in different views on the actions needed for its premises to be realized. Additionally, current developments adhere largely to the principles of the weak sustainability paradigm. In order for the bio-based economy to develop in accordance with the notion of strong sustainability, important steps to facilitate a transition would include acknowledging and addressing the trade-offs caused by biophysical and social limits to growth.

  • 2016. Cecilia Akselsson (et al.). Biogeochemistry 128 (1-2), 89-105

    Whole-tree harvesting, i.e. harvesting of stems, branches and tops, has become increasingly common during recent decades due to the increased demand for renewable energy. Whole-tree harvesting leads to an increase in base cation losses from the ecosystem, which can counteract recovery from acidification. An increase in weathering rates due to higher temperatures is sometimes suggested as a process that may counteract the acidifying effect of whole-tree harvesting. In this study the potential effect of increasing temperature on weathering rates was compared with the increase in base cation losses following whole-tree harvesting in spruce forests, along a temperature gradient in Sweden. The mechanistic model PROFILE was used to estimate weathering rates at National Forest Inventory sites at today's temperature and the temperature in 2050, as estimated by two different climate projections. The same dataset was used to calculate base cation losses following stem-only and whole-tree harvesting. The calculations showed that the increase in temperature until 2050 would result in an increase in the base cation weathering rate of 20-33 %, and that whole-tree harvesting would lead to an increase in base cation losses of 66 % on average, compared to stem-only harvesting. A sensitivity analysis showed that moisture changes are important for future weathering rates, but the effect of the temperature change was dominating even when the most extreme moisture changes were applied. It was concluded that an increase in weathering rates resulting from higher temperatures would not compensate for the increase in base cation losses following whole-tree harvesting, except in the northernmost part of Sweden.

  • 2016. Pierre Sicard (et al.). Environmental Pollution 213, 977-987

    Research directions from the 27th conference for Specialists in Air Pollution and Climate Change Effects on Forest Ecosystems (2015) reflect knowledge advancements about (i) Mechanistic bases of tree responses to multiple climate and pollution stressors, in particular the interaction of ozone (O-3) with nitrogen (N) deposition and drought; (ii) Linking genetic control with physiological whole-tree activity; (iii) Epigenetic responses to climate change and air pollution; (iv) Embedding individual tree performance into the multi-factorial stand-level interaction network; (v) Interactions of biogenic and anthropogenic volatile compounds (molecular, functional and ecological bases); (vi) Estimating the potential for carbon/pollution mitigation and cost effectiveness of urban and periurban forests; (vii) Selection of trees adapted to the urban environment; (viii) Trophic, competitive and host/parasite relationships under changing pollution and climate; (ix) Atmosphere -iosphere-pedosphere interactions as affected by anthropospheric changes; (x) Statistical analyses for epidemiological investigations; (xi) Use of monitoring for the validation of models; (xii) Holistic view for linking the climate, carbon, N and O-3 odelling; (xiii) Inclusion of multiple environmental stresses (biotic and abiotic) in critical load determinations; (xiv) Ecological impacts of N deposition in the under-investigated areas; (xv) Empirical models for mechanistic effects at the local scale; (xvi) Broad-scale N and sulphur deposition input and their effects on forest ecosystem services; (xvii) Measurements of dry deposition of N; (xviii) Assessment of evapotranspiration; (xix) Remote sensing assessment of hydrological parameters; and (xx) Forest management for maximizing water provision and overall forest ecosystem services. Ground-level O-3 is still the phytotoxic air pollutant of major concern to forest health. Specific issues about O-3 are: (xxi) Developing dose response relationships and stomatal O-3 flux parameterizations for risk assessment, especially, in under-investigated regions; (xxii) Defining biologically based O-3 standards for protection thresholds and critical levels; (xxiii) Use of free-air exposure facilities; (xxiv) Assessing O-3 impacts on forest ecosystem services.

Show all publications by Salim Belyazid at Stockholm University

Last updated: April 17, 2019

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