Lowland woodland in the perspective of the historical development


Funding: Grant agency of the Academy of Sciences of the CzechRepublic.

Coordination: Radim Hédl and Péter Szabó

Cooperation: Eva Jamrichová, Tereza Klinerová, Martin Kopecký, Jana Müllerová, Barbora Pelánková, Ondřej Vild


Central Europe is a naturally forest-dominated area. In addition to natural processes, the vegetation cover has been profoundly influenced by humans during the Holocene. In the CzechRepublic, the relationships between environmental factors, woodland structure and vegetation composition have been analyzed in detail. However, until very recently, there has been virtually no research on how human-driven history shaped the woodlands.

This project integrates the methods of natural sciences and humanities (palaeoecology, archeology, history, ecology) in an interdisciplinary manner to study several key sites in the lowlands. They are Pálava and Dúbrava in S Moravia and Český kras in C Bohemia. The research extends to other, less intensively studied sites as well.

Vegetation development in the Holocene and historical woodland management have been studied and results compared. Spatio-temporal patterns in vegetation have been analyzed, focusing on long-term changes, impact of forest continuity, and influence of experimental management on biodiversity of the forests. Management guidelines for the future maintenance of valuable woods have been proposed.


  • Altman J., Hédl R., Szabó P., Mazůrek P., Riedl V., Müllerová J., Kopecký M. & Doležal J. (2013): Tree-rings mirror management legacy: dramatic response of standard oaks to past coppicing in Central Europe. PLOS ONE 8(2): e55770.
  • Hédl R. &  Szabó P. (2009) Děvínské lesy od středověku do současnosti (Děvín Wood from the Middle Ages to the present). Živa 57: 103–106.
  • Hédl R. (2009): O divočině, divokosti a ochraně přírody. Vesmír 88/7-8: 511–513.
  • Hédl R., Szabó P., Riedl V. & Kopecký M. (2011) Tradiční lesní hospodaření ve střední Evropě. I. Formy a podoby. Živa59/2: 61–63.
  • Hédl R., Szabó P., Riedl V. & Kopecký M. (2011) Tradiční lesní hospodaření ve střední Evropě. II. Les jako ekosystém. Živa 59/3: 108–110.
  • Hédl, R. & Szabó, P. (2010) Hluboké hvozdy, nebo pokřivené křoví? Nástin historie lesů nížinných oblastí (Thick woods or crooked shrubs? An outline of the history of lowland forests). Vesmír 89: 232-236.
  • Hédl, R., Kopecký M. & Komárek J. (2010) Half a century of succession in a temperate oakwood: from species-rich community to mesic forest. Diversity and Distributions 16: 267-276. download from journal
  • Jamrichová E., Szabó P., Hédl R., Kuneš P., Bobek P., Pelánková B. (2013): Continuity and change in the vegetation of a Central European oakwood. The Holocene 23: 46–56.
  • Kopecký M. & Čížková Š. (2010): Using topographic wetness index in vegetation ecology: does the algorithm matter? Applied Vegetation Science 13: 450–459.
  • Kopecký M., Hédl R. & Szabó P. (2013): Non-random extinctions dominate plant community changes in abandoned coppices. Journal of Applied Ecology 50/1: 79–87.
  • Szabó P. & Hédl R. (2010): Starobylý les – nová kategorie pojímání lesa. Lesnická práce 89/1: 22–23.
  • Szabó P. & Hédl R. (2013): Socio-economic demands, ecological conditions and the power of tradition: past decision making in woodland management in Central Europe. Landscape Research, online.
  • Szabó P. & Hédl R. (2011) Advancing the integration of history and ecology for conservation. Conservation Biology 25/4: 680–687. download from journal
  • Szabó P. (2009) Open woodland in Europe in the Mesolithic and in the Middle Ages: Can There Be a Connection? Forest Ecology and Management 257: 2327–2330. download from journal
  • Szabó P. (2010) Driving forces of stability and change in woodland structure: A case-study from the Czech lowlands. Forest Ecology and Management 259: 650–656. download from journal
  • Szabó P. (2010) The end of common uses and traditional management in Central European woods. Landscape Archaeology and Ecology 8: 182–184. download
  • Szabó P. (2010) Why history matters in ecology: An interdisciplinary perspective. Environmental Conservation 37: 380–387. download from journal
  • Verheyen K., Baeten L., De Frenne P., Bernhardt-Römermann M., Brunet J., Cornelis J., Decocq G., Dierschke H., Eriksson O., Hédl R., Heinken T., Hermy M., Hommel P., Kirby K., Naaf T., Peterken G., Petřík P., Pfadenhauer J., Van Calster H., Walther G.-R., Wulf M., Verstraeten G. (2012) Driving factors behind the eutrophication signal in understorey plant communities of deciduous temperate forests. Journal of Ecology 100: 352-365.
  • Volařík D. & Hédl R. (2013): Expansion to abandoned agricultural land forms an integral part of silver fir dynamics. Forest Ecology and Management 292: 39–48.