iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Historical and contemporary forest ecosystem changes in the Beskid Mountains (southern Poland) between 1848 and 2014

Michal Sobala, Oimahmad Rahmonov   , Urszula Myga-Piatek

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 10, Issue 6, Pages 939-947 (2017)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor2418-010
Published: Dec 19, 2017 - Copyright © 2017 SISEF

Research Articles

Landscape changes in the Carpathians are related to centuries of human activity, which can be regarded as the key component of global change. Changes in mountainous regions are mainly caused by agriculture, urbanization, forest cutting for production and land abandonment. This paper aimed to assess the impact of natural and historical-cultural factors on forest ecosystem transformations occurred in the period 1848-2014 in two small areas (about 45 km2) on the Beskid Mountains (southern Poland). The comparison of historical and current maps, along with the application of GIS and field verification, allowed a full interpretation of changes in land use in the studied areas. A decrease of 58.0% in non-forest areas was observed in the considered period, while the forested area grew systematically by 28.3% and the forest-field boundary lowered in altitude. Current forest ecosystems are distributed as a mosaic and mainly consist of Dentario glandulosae-Fagetum, Luzulo nemorosae-Fagetum, Abieti-Piceetum montanum, with logged sites taking up large areas. Forest ecosystems include valuable semi-natural meadows such as Gladiolo-Agrostietum, Hieracio-Nardetum, Arrhenatheretum medioeuropaeum, Cirsietum rivularis or Juncetum effusi, whose extension is reducing and fragmentation increasing due to the recolonization of forest tree species after abandonment. We concluded that trends in land use in the Carpathians were mainly determined by non-environmental factors related to the development of farming-pasturing and forest management. The applied approach could be extended to other regions in the Carpathians which were subject to analogous historical-cultural influences. Moreover, our results allow for a comparison with other regions which are subject to similar impacts of natural processes, but to different impact of historical and cultural processes.


Landscape Research, Forest Transformation, Land Use Changes, Historical Maps, Poland, Beskid Mountains, Carpathians

Authors’ address

Michal Sobala
Oimahmad Rahmonov
Urszula Myga-Piatek
University Silesia in Katowice, Faculty of Earth Sciences, Bedzinska 60, 41-200 Sosnowiec (Poland)

Corresponding author

Oimahmad Rahmonov


Sobala M, Rahmonov O, Myga-Piatek U (2017). Historical and contemporary forest ecosystem changes in the Beskid Mountains (southern Poland) between 1848 and 2014. iForest 10: 939-947. - doi: 10.3832/ifor2418-010

Academic Editor

Susanna Nocentini

Paper history

Received: Mar 02, 2017
Accepted: Sep 08, 2017

First online: Dec 19, 2017
Publication Date: Dec 31, 2017
Publication Time: 3.40 months

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