Legacy of the past land-use changes and management on the 'natural' upland forest composition in the Apuseni Natural Park, Romania
Feurdean AN., Willis KJ., Astaloş C.
The Apuseni Natural Park (ANP) in northwestern Romania was founded in 1990 to protect the old-growth forests in this region and their high species diversity. We present results from palaeoecological investigation (pollen, micro- and macrocharcoal) of two sedimentary sequences from ANP alongside regional archaeological and historical records to explore (1) the degree to which the present-day vegetation in this part of the reserve is a consequence of past land-use systems and forest management; (2) how this forest differs from what was there prior to human activity; and (3) how the understanding of correlations between historical land-use and vegetation changes is directly relevant for reserve conservation strategies and sustainable management of this reserve. Results indicate that anthropogenic activities had little influence on the forest dynamics prior to 200 BC but became evident thereafter as a consequence of forest burning, seasonal pastoralism and small-scale deforestation. From AD 1550, anthropogenic activities also included wood clearances for smelting, and over the last 150 years it is apparent that these forests have been industrially exploited and managed. Despite this legacy of these past land uses, most of the tree species growing presently in the forests are native. Humans have, however, altered their original relative abundance, leading to a great reduction of Fagus sylvatica and Abies alba, and to less extent of Ulmus, Tilia, Fraxinus excelsior and the enrichment with Picea abies, Betula, Alnus, Pinus and some Q uercus, Carpinus betulus, Corlyus avellana. © The Author(s), 2009.