The history and natural regeneration of a secondary oak-beech woodland on a former wood-pasture in Hungary

Anna Varga, Péter Ódor, Zsolt Molnár, János Bölöni


Characteristic features of European woodland include both a reduction in natural forest areas and an increase in former agricultural areas occupied by secondary woodland. The management of these areas is challenging in terms of nature conservation, agricultural and forestry management and policy. The aim of our study was to reconstruct the history and to document the current tree stand structure for a secondary oak-beech woodland in Hungary. Towards the end of the 1800s, this area which was once almost completely occupied by a continuous forest, had been transformed into a wood-pasture. As a result of its gradual abandonment, the closed forest stand of the pasture increased from 10 to 52% between 1963 and 2005. The most characteristic feature of this woodland is the abundance of large trees. Globally, the number of large and ancient trees is rapidly diminishing. Therefore preserving and maintaining such areas, where large trees could live, is an essential management task.


socio-economic changes; forest cover change; large trees; broadleaved forest; silvo-pastoral system

Full Text:



Agnoletti M. The degradation of traditional landscape in a mountain area of Tuscany during the 19th and 20th centuries: implications for biodiversity and sustainable management. For Ecol Manage. 2007;249:5–17.

Chételat J, Kalbermatten M, Lannas KSM, Spiegelberger T, Wettstein JB, Gillet F, et al. A contextual analysis of land-use and vegetation changes in two wooded pastures in the Swiss Jura Mountains. Ecol Soc. 2013;18:39.

Holz S, Placci G, Quintana RD. Effects of history of use on secondary forest regeneration in the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest (Misiones, Argentina). For Ecol Manage. 2009;258: 1629–1642.

Bürgi M, Schuler A. Driving forces of forest management – an analysis of regeneration practices in the forests of the Swiss Central Plateau during the 19th and 20th century. For Ecol Manage. 2003;176:173–183.

Bomanowska A, Kiedrzyński M. Changing land use in recent decades and its impact on plant cover in agricultural and forest landscapes in Poland. Folia Biologica et Oecologica. 2011;7:5–26.

Foster D, Swanson F, Aber J, Burke I, Brokaw N, Tilman D, et al. The importance of land-use legacies to ecology and conservation. BioScience. 2003;53:77–88.[0077:tiolul];2

Rackham O. Ancient woodland, its history, vegetation and uses in England. London: Edward Arnold; 1980.

Bengtsson J, Nilsson SG, Franc A, Menozzi P. Biodiversity, disturbances, ecosystem function and management of European forests. For Ecol Manage. 2000;132:39–50.

Dambrine E, Duopoey JL, Laut L, Humbert L, Thinon M, Beaufils T, et al. Present forest biodiversity patterns in France related to former Roman agriculture. Ecology. 2007;88:1430–1439.

Szabó P. Driving forces of stability and change in woodland structure: a case-study from the Czech lowlands. For Ecol Manage. 2010;259:650–656.

Lieskovský J, Kenderessy P, Špulerová J, Lieskovský T, Koleda P, Kienast F, et al. Factors affecting the persistence of traditional agricultural landscapes in Slovakia during the collectivization of agriculture. Landsc Ecol. 2014;29:867–877.

Sammul M, Kattai K, Lanno K, Meltsov V, Otsus M, Nõuakas L, et al. Wooded meadows of Estonia: conservation efforts for a traditional habitat. Agric Food Sci. 2008;17:413–429.

Motta R, Edouard JL. Stand structure and dynamics in a mixed and multilayered forest in the Upper Susa Valley, Piedmont, Italy. Can J For Res. 2005;35:21–36.

Piussi P, Farrell EP. Interactions between society and forest ecosystems: challenges for the near future. For Ecol Manage. 2000;132:21–28.

Isselstein J, Jeangros B, Pavlů V. Agronomic aspects of biodiversity targeted management of temperate grasslands in Europe – a review. Agron Res. 2005;3:139–151.

Johann E, Agnoletti M, Bölöni J, Erol SC, Holl K, Kusmin J, et al. Europe. In: Parrotta JA, Trosper RL, editors. Traditional forest-related knowledge: sustaining communities, ecosystems and biocultural diversity. New York, NY: Springer; 2012. p. 203–249. (World forests; vol 12).

Kuemmerle T, Hostert P, Radeloff VC, van der Linden S, Perzanowski K, Kruhlov I. Cross-border comparison of postsocialist farmland abandonment in the Carpathians. Ecosystems. 2008;11:614–628.

Muster S, Elsenbeer H, Conedera M. Small-scale effects of historical land use and topography on post-cultural tree species composition in an Alpine valley in southern Switzerland. Landsc Ecol. 2007;22:1187–1199.

Vera WM. Grazing ecology and forest history. Wallingford: CABI; 2000.

Hédl R, Kopecky M, Komárek J. Half a century of succession in a temperate oakwood: from species-rich community to mesic forest. Divers Distrib. 2010;16:267–276.

Kwiatkowska AJ, Wyszomirski T. Decline of Potentillo albae-Quercetum phytocoenoses associated with the invasion of Carpinus betulus. Vegetatio. 1988;75:49–55.

Rackham O. Savanna in Europe. In: Kirby JK, Watkins C, editors. The ecological history of European forests. Oxon: CAB; 1998. p. 1–24.

Bergmeier E, Petermann J, Schröder E. Geobotanical survey of wood-pasture habitats in Europe: diversity, threats and conservation. Biodivers Conserv. 2010;19:2995–3014.

Bölöni J, Molnár Z, Biró M, Horváth F. Distribution of the (semi-) natural habitats in Hungary II. Woodlands and shrublands. Acta Bot Hung. 2008;50:107–148.

Rozas V. Regeneration patterns, dendroecology, and forest-use history in an old-growth beech-oak lowland forest in Northern Spain. For Ecol Manage. 2003;182:175–194.

Szabó P, Hédl R. Socio-economic demands, ecological conditions and the power of tradition: past woodland management decisions in a Central European landscape. Landsc Res. 2013;38:243–261.

Hartel T, Dorresteijn I, Klein C, Máthé O, Moga CI, Öllerer K, et al. Wood-pastures in a traditional rural region of Eastern Europe: characteristics, management and status. Biol Conserv. 2013;166:267–275.

Brunet J, Fritz Ö, Richnau G. Biodiversity in European beech forests – a review with recommendations for sustainable forest management. Ecological Bulletins. 2010;53:77–94.

Horváth F, Bidló A, Heil B, Király G, Kovács G, Mányoki G, et al. Abandonment status and long-term monitoring of strict forest reserves in the Pannonian biogeographical region. Plant Biosyst. 2012;146:189–200.

Bürgi M, Gimmi U. Three objectives of historical ecology: the case of litter collecting in Central European forests. Landsc Ecol. 2007;22:77–87.

Szabó P, Hédl R. Advancing the integration of history and ecology for conservation. Conserv Biol. 2011;25:680–687.

Merusch I, Práger T, Ambrózy P, Hunkár M, Dunkel Z, editors. Magyarország éghajlati atlasza. Budapest: Országos Meteorológiai Szolgálat; 2002.

Sonnevend I. Olaszfalu és Eplény határának növény- és állatvilága. In: Hudi I, editor. Olaszfalu: Olaszfalu története; 2005.

MSA. Mezőgazdasági Statisztikai Adatgyűjtemény. Állattenyésztés III. Községsoros adatok. Budapest: KSH; 1972.

Hudi J. Olaszfalu története. Olaszfalu: Olaszfalu Község Önkormányzata; 2005.

The first military survey [DVD]. Budapest: Arcanum; 2004.

The second military survey [DVD]. Budapest: Arcanum; 2005.

The third military survey [DVD]. Budapest: Arcanum; 2007.

Reiczigel J, Harnos A, Solymosi N. Biostatisztika. Nem statisztikusoknak. Nagykovácsi: Pars Kft; 2007.

Hammer O. PAST: PAleontological STatistics. Version 2.17. Oslo: Natural History Museum, University of Oslo; 2012.

Boross I, Madarász L. Veszprém vármegye összeírása 1696, 1715, 1720. Veszprém: Veszprém Megyei Levéltár; 2002. (A Veszprém Megyei Levéltár Kiadványai; vol 17).

ÁESZ. Üzemterv. Állami Erdészeti Szolgálat; 1999.

Bürgi M. A case study of forest change in the Swiss lowlands. Landsc Ecol. 1999;14:567–575.

Linares A. Forest planning and traditional knowledge in collective woodlands of Spain: the dehesa system. For Ecol Manage. 2007;249:71–79.

Varga A, Bölöni J. Erdei legeltetés, fáslegelők, legelőerdők tájtörténeti kutatása. Természetvédelmi Közlemények. 2009;15:68–79.

Petercsák T, editor. Az erdő szerepe Felsőtárkány életében. In: Az életmód változása egy bükki faluban. Budapest: ??; 1986. p. 128–136. (Néprajzi Tanulmányok Heves megyében; vol 4).

Plieninger T, Pulido FJ, Konold W. Effects of land-use history on size structure of holm oak stands in Spanish dehesas: implications for conservation and restoration. Environ Conserv. 2003;30:61–70.

Hartel T, Pilinger T, editors. European wood-pastures in transition. A social-ecological approach. London: Routledge; 2014.

Manning AD, Fisher J, Lindenmayer DB. Scattered trees are keystone structures: implications for conservation. Biol Conserv. 2006;132:311–321.

Ginzler O, Simmering D, Waldhardt R, Otte A. Vegetation dynamics of a wood-pasture landscape in the Lahn-Dill-Highlands (Hesse, Germany). In: Otte A, Simmering D, Eckstein L, Hölzel N, Waldhardt R, editors. Eco-complexity and dynamics of the cultural landscape: abstracts of the talks and posters presented at the 34th annual conference of the Ecological Society in Giessen, September 13th–17th, 2004; Berlin: Ecological Society in Giessen; 2004. p. 382. (Proceedings of the GfÖ; vol 34).

Varga A, Molnár Z. The role of traditional ecological knowledge in managing wood-pastures. In: Hartel T, Plininger T, editors. European wood-pastures in transition. Earthscan. London: Routledge; 2014. p. 187–202.

Deák B, Valkó O, Török P, Végvári Z, Hartel T, Schmotzer A, et al. Grassland fires in Hungary – experiences of nature conservationists on the effects of fire on biodiversity. Appl Ecol Environ Res. 2014;12:267–283.

Öllerer K. The ground vegetation management of wood-pastures in Romania – insights in the past for conservation management in the future. Appl Ecol Environ Res. 2014;12:549–562.

Andrásfalvy B. A Duna mente népének ártéri gazdálkodása. Szekszárd: Ekvilibrium; 2007.

Saláta D, Szabó M, Kenéz Á, Malatinszky Á, Demény K, Breuer L. Adatok a Pénzesgyőr-Hárskúti hagyásfás legelő tájtörténetéhez. Tájökológiai Lapok. 2007;5:19–25.

Piovesan G, Di Filippo A, Alessandrini A, Biondi F, Schirone B. Structure, dynamics and dendroecology of an old-growth Fagus forest in the Apennines. J Veg Sci. 2005;16:13–28.

Rotherham ID. The implications of perceptions and cultural knowledge loss for the management of wooded landscapes: a UK case-study. For Ecol Manage. 2007;249:100–115.

Angelstam P, Elbakidze M, Axelsson R, Cupa R, Halada L, Molnar Z, et al. Maintaining cultural and natural biodiversity in the Carpathian Mountain ecoregion: need for an integrated landscape approach. In: Kozak J, Ostapowicz K, Bytnerowicz A, Wyżga B, editors. Integrating nature and society towards sustainability. Berlin: Springer. 2013. p. 393–424.

2009. évi XXXVII. törvény az erdőről, az erdő védelméről és az erdőgazdálkodásról (Hungarian Forestry Law).

Holl K, Smith M. Scottish upland forests: history lessons for the future. For Ecol Manage. 2007;249:45–53.

Nilsson SG, Niklasson M, Hedin J, Aronsson G, Gutowski JM, Linder P, et al. Densities of large and dead trees in old-growth temperate and boreal forests. For Ecol Manage. 2003;161:189–204.

von Oheimb G, Brunet J. Dalby Söderskog revisited: long-term vegetation changes in a south Swedish deciduous forest. Acta Oecol. 2007;31:229–242.

Bilek L, Remes J, Zahradnik D. Managed vs. unmanaged. Structure of beech forest stands (Fagus sylvatica L.) after 50 years of development, Central Bohemia. For Syst. 2011;20:122–138.

Dénes A, Papp N, Babai D, Czúcz B, Molnár Z. Wild plants used for food by Hungarian ethnic groups living in the Carpathian Basin. Acta Soc Bot Pol. 2012;81:381–396.

Alberti G, Peressotti P, Piussi P, Zerbi G. Structure and stand development of secondary forests in Eastern Prealps (Italy). Dendrochronologia. 2009;27:173–181.

Mitka J, Jakubowska-Gabara J. Ancient woodland plant species in a landscape park in central Poland. Acta Soc Bot Pol. 2007;76:239–249.

Hellberg E, Hörnberg G, Östlund L, Zackrisson O. Vegetation dynamics and disturbance history in three deciduous forests in boreal Sweden. J Veg Sci. 2003;14:267–276.[0267:vdadhi];2

Bartha D, Ódor P, Horváth T, Tímár G, Kenderes K, Standovár T, et al. Relationship of tree stand heterogeneity and forest naturalness. Acta Silv Lignaria Hung. 2006;2:7–22.

Carvalho JPF. Composition and structure of natural mixed-oak stands in northern and central Portugal. For Ecol Manage. 2011;262:1928–1937.

Holl K, Smiths M. Ancient wood-pasture in Scotland: classification and managment principels. Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report FO 1AA108; 2002.