Changes in Forest Cover and its Diversity

  • Viliam PichlerEmail author
  • Paulo Godinho-Ferreira
  • Tzvetan Zlatanov
  • Magdaléna Pichlerová
  • Juraj Gregor
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 212)


Current forest cover of Europe differs not only from its past area or pattern, but also from Europe’s potential vegetation. This is a result of two main factors, i.e. climate changes and the anthropogenic influence. Both factors have affected tree species composition of forests, forest coverage, fragmentation, the structure of forest ecosystems, as well as their texture. Generally, they acted in opposite ways: while the easing of harsh climate after the last glaciation facilitated the re-colonisation of land by trees and further development of forest ecosystems, forest areas have been reduced and fragmented, and their structure and biodiversity diminished due to human activities. A reversal of the latter trend occurred during the last century in Europe, a process also called forest cover transition. It has been initiated and sustained by the decline of agriculture and population drift into urban areas. This trend has enabled both natural and artificial reforestation and/or afforestation, respectively. It is necessary to understand these changes because of their profound impact on both current forest management options and the water cycle. Various modes of impact may result from distinct ecophysiological responses of tress to the soil water content, interception and water channelling through forest canopies, coarse woody debris and surface humus layer, as well as structures and force fields created by tree roots and soil edaphone. Thus, projected scenarios of the development of European forests in the next decades imply multiple effects on the water cycle.


Forest Management Forest Cover Coarse Woody Debris European Beech Tree Species Composition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Parts of this work have been funded by the APVV project No. 0468/06 and VEGA 1/0723/08 related to FP0601.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Viliam Pichler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paulo Godinho-Ferreira
    • 2
  • Tzvetan Zlatanov
    • 3
  • Magdaléna Pichlerová
    • 4
  • Juraj Gregor
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Natural EnvironmentTechnical University in ZvolenZvolenSlovakia
  2. 2.Departamento de EcologiaRecursos Naturais e Ambiente, Estação Florestal NacionalOeirasPortugal
  3. 3.Forest Research InstituteSofiaBulgaria
  4. 4.Department of Landscape Planning and DesignTechnical University in ZvolenZvolenSlovakia

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