Woodlands as a part of the traditional cultural landscape

Virgin, natural woodlands were transformed into elements of the tradi­tional cultural landscape when their structure and species composition were heavily influenced by historical or modern silvicultural uses (e. g. woodland pastures, reforestation partly with non-native species; Pott and Huppe 1991; Zerbe 2004). The habitat continuity of such woodlands can still be quite high when it is a question of transformed, pristine forests. The continuity on reforested former agricultural land, however, is comparably
low. For parts of Europe, more recent reforestations have been differenti­ated from old-growth forests through landscape historical methods (Peter – ken and Game 1984; Peterken 1994; Wulf and Kelm 1994; Verheyen et al. 2003). According to these studies, the forest types differ in their species richness and in the presence of indicator species of old-growth forests.

The development of two peri-urban forests in Switzerland and in Ger­many illustrates possible overlaps between culturally determined and pris­tine natural forests. The Sihlwald has been fundamentally shaped by the long-term procurement of wood for the firewood needs of the city of Zurich (Broggi 1992). The Saarkohlenwald near Saarbrucken has also been shaped by traditional forestry uses – and additionally through small – scale mining activities (Rosler 2004). The goal in both cases of allowing a peri-urban wilderness to emerge by abandoning former uses will lead over the course of time to a convergence of the stands with the species composi­tion and structure of a pristine woodland.