Forests 2020, 11(8), 867; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11080867 (registering DOI) - 08 Aug 2020
Though on a global scale, for ecological reasons, increased forest cover is universally regarded as positive, on a local scale, the reforestation of arable land may pose threats to cultural landscapes by removing characteristic landscape features. Particularly vulnerable are marginal rural areas, e.g., [...] Read more.
Though on a global scale, for ecological reasons, increased forest cover is universally regarded as positive, on a local scale, the reforestation of arable land may pose threats to cultural landscapes by removing characteristic landscape features. Particularly vulnerable are marginal rural areas, e.g., mountain regions, where most traditional land use systems have survived and which are subject to the most spectacular land use change. The purpose of this article is to draw attention to the issue of the management of forest cover in historical cultural landscapes in mountain territories in Poland within the context of widespread land use change in Eastern Europe. Land cover data were obtained from historical and contemporary aerial photographs, as well as topographic maps from five time points between 1824 and 2016. The study was conducted by means of spatio-temporal forest cover trajectory analysis (LCTA), transition and time–depth analysis, and land cover change calculations that were made by means of ArcGIS. Our research indicates that the rate of change has risen considerably in the last two decades, and the current share of forest cover is much bigger than that reflected in the official data. Eight principal forest cover trajectory types were identified. The biggest area is occupied by woodland of long-term stability. Another large group is constituted by forests created on the basis of arable land and grassland as a result of simple conversion at one point in time, mainly in the years 1824–1886 and 1939–1994. At the same time, a sizeable group is made up by areas that have been subject to unplanned cyclical or dynamic changes during various periods. A very important group is comprised new forests that were created in 1994–2016, predominantly as a result of natural succession, that are often not included in official land classifications. The constant expansion of woodlands has led to a shrinking of historical former coppice woodlands. This indicates that the current landscape management mechanisms in Poland are inadequate for protecting the cultural landscape. The barriers include the lack of intersectoral cooperation and the overlooking of the historical context of landscapes. The present situation calls not only for verification of the existing forest policy but also for increasing the role and engagement of local communities, as well as making comprehensive local development plans, all of which may be helped by the findings of our study and of similar research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Natural and Anthropogenic Drivers on Land-Cover Change and Treeline Dynamics in Mountain Areas)►▼ Show Figures