The vegetation of Central Europe is under continuous human pressure for at least eight millennia resulting in the gradual transformation of the forests into today’s agricultural landscape. However, there has been more to this landscape change than the simple disappearance of woodland. Forests have been influenced by environmental changes as well as various traditional and recent management regimes, which profoundly altered their structure and species composition. Many pressing issues today include questions about the naturalness of the forests and calls for their proper management and future conservation. We addressed these questions in the five-year ERC LONGWOOD project, which for the first time combined approaches of vegetation science, history, archaeology, palaeoecology and historical geography.
Our outputs bring new perspectives for nature conservation, suggesting to put more attention to long-term dynamics of the ecosystems in focus.