We reconstructed forest development and disturbance events (fire and logging) during the last 1000 yr with tree-ring data, pollen and charcoal analysis from a semi-natural Fagus sylvatica-Picea abies forest (ca. 1 km2) in the hemiboreal zone. According to pollen analysis, Quercus robur together with Pinus sylvestris was abundant in the forest until the turn of the 18th/19th centuries when these species disappeared completely (Quercus) or nearly completely (Pinus) and were replaced by Fagus and Picea. The disappearance of Quercus was corroborated by the remarkable discovery of a single Quercus stump that had been cut in the 18th century and had become overgrown and preserved by a very old Picea. In total 11 fires were dated from 1555 to 1748 from fire scars in several Pinus stumps cut 100 - 200 yr ago. Since the last fire in 1748, no Quercus or Pinus have regenerated in the core of the reserve apart from single pines in neighbouring managed forest (80 yr ago). During the period of documented fires Fagus was protected from fires in a refuge made up of large boulders. Picea colonized the region at the time when the fires ceased 250 yr ago. We hypothesize that most of the fires were probably of human origin because of their patchiness and high frequency compared to the natural background levels of lightning ignitions in the region. On a 300-yr time scale, logging and fire suppression seem to strongly overshadow the effect of climate change on forest composition and dynamics.
Nomenclature: Tutin et al. (1964–1976).
Abbreviation: LID = Lightning Ignition Density.