iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


A multisource approach helps to detect a forest as a reference site in an intensively used rural landscape (Uckermark, NE Germany)

Monika Wulf (1)   , Knut Kaiser (2), Almut Mrotzek (3), Lina Geiges-Erzgräber (4), Lars Schulz (5), Irina Stockmann (6), Thomas Schneider (7), Christoph Kappler (2), Oliver Bens (2)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 14, Issue 5, Pages 426-436 (2021)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3774-014
Published: Sep 21, 2021 - Copyright © 2021 SISEF

Research Articles

The sharp decline in seminatural areas worldwide is undisputed, but the consequences of this decline, apart from the loss of biodiversity, cannot be fully assessed. To restore ecosystems or landscapes, it is essential to have so-called reference sites. We want to show how reliable reference sites can be found in heavily used landscapes with the help of independent sources, and we present an approach that can be used in other regions, because it is very well suited for developing essential databases in the context of theses at different levels. A forest of seminatural stocking was selected in northeast Germany as a case study. The mapping of archival sources and the analyses of historical maps as well as field investigations were combined to reconstruct the dynamics of vegetation and soil for the last several centuries to thousands of years. Palynological data from nearby sites show that the study area has been forested for several millennia and has been less influenced by humans in the last 450 years. Together with historical maps of tree species composition, it allows to infer that the specific forest has been preserved in good ecological conditions for at least 250 years. Soil inventory and field studies on two catenas and corings support this conclusion, as they rarely show signs of anthropogenic erosion and related colluviation. Using a multisource approach, it is possible to identify potential reference sites that provide a reliable basis for ecosystem or landscape restoration.


Ancient Forest, Geo-bio-archives, Historic Maps, Land Use Legacy, Pollen Analysis, Reference Site

Authors’ address

Monika Wulf 0000-0001-6499-0750
Research Area 2 - Land Use and Governance, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research - ZALF, Müncheberg (Germany)
Knut Kaiser 0000-0002-5080-6075
Christoph Kappler 0000-0001-9099-1546
Oliver Bens 0000-0003-3872-0081
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam (Germany)
Almut Mrotzek
Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology, University of Greifswald, Partner in the Greifswald Mire Centre, Greifswald (Germany)
Lina Geiges-Erzgräber
Institute for Geographical Science, Free University of Berlin, Berlin (Germany)
Lars Schulz
Institute for Ecology, Technical University of Berlin, Berlin (Germany)
Irina Stockmann 0000-0003-2183-4285
Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Potsdam, Potsdam-Golm (Germany)
Thomas Schneider
Faculty of Landscape Management and Nature Conservation, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Eberswalde (Germany)

Corresponding author

Monika Wulf


Wulf M, Kaiser K, Mrotzek A, Geiges-Erzgräber L, Schulz L, Stockmann I, Schneider T, Kappler C, Bens O (2021). A multisource approach helps to detect a forest as a reference site in an intensively used rural landscape (Uckermark, NE Germany). iForest 14: 426-436. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3774-014

Academic Editor

Emilia Allevato

Paper history

Received: Feb 05, 2021
Accepted: Jul 18, 2021

First online: Sep 21, 2021
Publication Date: Oct 31, 2021
Publication Time: 2.17 months

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