BECC 4C Excursion: Field signs of natural and managed forests
Humans use more than 75% of the global land surface, altering vegetation, hydrology and soils. Understanding human influence and global environmental change on the environment is key to be able to predict environmental changes and accurately identify drivers and solutions. If we for example see large changes in an ecosystem and link this to climate change, when it is instead a result of recovery from past land use, our predictions of future changes will be fundamentally flawed. In this excursion we will visit forests with different land use history.
A major problem is the general lack of maps and data on past and present human land use. Southern Swedish forests are one example where past land use has likely had a large influence on the current state of the forests. Some are regrowth after abandonment of agriculture, some have been selectively cut or clear-cut, some have been grazed and some have seen very little human influence, but no maps or similar of these past land-uses exists. In remote and field-based studies of these forests, and other ecosystems world-wide, it may be key to know the past land use.
In this excursion we will visit forests with different land use histories and look at key signs of their past land use to understand why a forest looks the way it does today:
Natural forest, urskog, ancient woodland, primary woodland, old-growth woodland. There are many terms describing European forests or woodlands that have little human impact at present and possibly in the past. A true “natural” forest can be defined as an idealised virgin forest condition that is uninfluenced by large-scale, systematic human activity; yet human activities have been so wide-spread and taken place over such a long period of time that there is probably little, if any, strictly natural forest remaining on planet Earth. Nevertheless, it is a valuable exercise to identify as many properties of natural forest as possible in the boreal and temperate zones to provide a reference for research, conservation, restoration, and silviculture. We plan an excursion that will visit forests between Göteborg and Lund to demonstrate and discuss the natural forest concept. The excursion will be led by Richard Bradshaw who has studied undisturbed forest areas in several countries (Bradshaw 2015). He has been considerably influenced by the late Oliver Rackham (Rackham 1980) and George Peterken (Peterken 1996).
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