The Holocene structure of north-west European temperate forest induced from palaeoecological data

R.H.W. Bradshaw, G.E. Hannon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in bookResearchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Several threatened forest species are currently associated with semiopen, 'wood-pasture' conditions and do not thrive in present-day, nonintervention temperate forests of north-western Europe. We assess the changing importance through time of five disturbance agencies that open forest canopies and induce the past structure of these forests. The influence of browsing and grazing animals has varied through time, but was most intense from domestic animals during recent centuries. The role of large ungulates on forest structure during the early Holocene was negligible. Fires of both natural and anthropogenic origin have been of importance in the past, but have now virtually ceased. Past effects of waterlogging have been severely reduced by drainage schemes. Wind-throw has been a relatively constant factor through time, while anthropogenic influence has dominated forest structure, particularly during recent centuries. 'Natural' forest structure is probably more open and varied than found in present-day, non-intervention, reference forests, due to variable combinations of these disturbance agencies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationForest biodiversity
Subtitle of host publicationLessons from history for conservation
EditorsO. Honnay, K. Verheyen, B. Bossuyt, M. Hermy
PublisherCAB International
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)0-85199-802-X, 9780851998022
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2004

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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