The goal of our Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) Europe Section Blog is to share stories and relevant information about activities going on within our section and more broadly in the conservation community. Stories and articles shared on our blog should not be taken as an official position or statement of SCB or SCB Europe Section. Thank you for reading!

Monday, 28 May 2012

European wood-pastures: introduction to the thematic issue

European rural landscapes have a huge cultural, social and ecological importance. These landscapes now confront many challenges resulting from the synergistic effects of global change, acceleration of human population growth and its development. Some rural landscapes of Europe suffered irreversible changes (even disappeared) and their societies urbanized long time ago. Other rural landscapes are apparently 'frozen' in ancient times (e.g. such are those from Romania, Eastern Europe) and visiting them is a glimpse in the deep roots of the modern European civilization.

Wood-pastures certainly connect the present with the past, since sometimes they have ancient origins. Passing through an ancient wood-pasture is also a time travel which would not leave you indifferent: What is the history of these old trees? What types of institutions made and maintained them through centuries? How important are they for biodiversity? What is their actual cultural importance? Would these century old trees survive the next few decades? These are just few questions you may ask while looking at them, and given the whole context of drastic and apparently chaotic changes which we witness today at societal level, we may found ourselves lucky to see these ancient trees in their traditional landscape setting.

No matter where we are in Europe, one thing about wood-pastures seems to be evident: they were made and maintained by people and their dependence on us is increasingly obvious. And we still need to understand them. The scientific evidences about the cultural and ecological importance of European wood-pastures are still scarce, and so are the initiatives to inventory describe and protect them at wider, regional or country level.

The Europe Section of the Society for Conservation Biology intends to highlight the importance and the current status of wood pastures in various parts of Europe and also the current challenges these habitats are facing.

In order to achieve this, we invited people from various parts of Europe which conduct research on wood-pastures to contribute to the blog of the Society with description of their main findings and also reflections about the future of the wood pastures from their working regions.

With the handful of writings about European wood-pastures, we would like to acknowledge the ecological and cultural legacy of these internationally important, beautiful and increasingly threatened landscape elements.

We thank to the contributors for making this thematic issue possible.

Tibor Hartel,
Society for Conservation Biology – Europe Section
Ovidius University, Constanta, Romania
Leuphana UniversityLuneburg, Germany

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