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1 September 2018 Post Hoc Assessment of Stand Structure across European Wood-Pastures: Implications for Land Use Policy
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Abstract

Europe's woodland and savanna rangelands, often part of silvopastoral systems known as wood-pastures, are deteriorating because of abandonment that leads to return to a forested state or lack of tree regeneration from overgrazing or tree and shrub removal. Despite numerous local studies, there has been no broader survey of the stand structure of European wood-pastures showing which systems are at risk of losing their semiopen character. This overview aims to 1) show some of the differences and similarities in wood-pastures from landscapes across Europe and 2) identify which of these wood-pastures are at risk of losing their semiopen character. We collated a dataset of 13 693 trees from 390 plots in wood-pastures from eight different European regions (western Estonia, eastern Greece, northern Germany, Hungary, northern Italy, southern Portugal, central Romania, and southern Sweden), including tree diameters at breast height, tree density, management type, and tree species composition. On the basis of their structural characteristics, we classified wood-pastures using principal component analysis (PCA) and cluster analysis. The PCA showed a gradient from dense wood-pastures with high levels of regeneration (e.g., in Estonia) to sparse wood-pastures with large trees but a lack of regeneration (e.g., in Romania). Along this gradient, we identified three main groups of wood-pastures: 1) sparse wood-pastures with mostly big trees; 2) dense wood-pastures composed of small trees, and 3) wood-pastures containing a wide range of tree ages. Our results show a large structural gradient in European wood-pastures, as well as regeneration problems varying in their severity, highlighting the importance of social-ecological context for wood-pasture conditions. To maintain the ecological and cultural integrity of European wood-pastures, we suggest 1) more comprehensively considering them in European policies such as the Common Agricultural Policy and EU Habitats Directive, while 2) taking into account their structural characteristics and social-ecological backgrounds.

© 2018 The Society for Range Management. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Marlene Roellig, Augusta Costa, Matteo Garbarino, Jan Hanspach, Tibor Hartel, Simon Jakobsson, Regina Lindborg, Sabine Mayr, Tobias Plieninger, Marek Sammul, Anna Varga, and Joern Fischer "Post Hoc Assessment of Stand Structure across European Wood-Pastures: Implications for Land Use Policy ," Rangeland Ecology and Management 71(5), 526-535, (1 September 2018). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2018.04.004
Received: 27 February 2017; Accepted: 9 April 2018; Published: 1 September 2018
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