Devin thermophilous woods - Czechia
Devin thermophilous woods
Děvín is a considerable site of forest and non-forest ecosystems of the warmest part of the Czech Republic. Due to heterogeneous geomorphology, it comprises a range of habitat conditions and vegetation types. Forests cover about 3/4 of the area and they are formed mainly by oak-hornbeam wood, thermophilous oak wood, and ravine wood. The forests of Děvín were strictly managed as a coppice in the past. The oldest records are available from the late 14th century. The cutting period was as short as 7 years in the Middle Age and then gradually increased to 15–25 years during the 17th–19th centuries. A reason of the coppice management was the need of firewood. This probably led to a dominance of the large-leaved lime (Tilia platyphyllos), which stands regular cutting and quickly re-sprouts. The traditional management was abandoned in the 20th century, a nature reserve was declared in 1946, and later even a game preserve was established; the latter, however, was cancelled in the 1990s. The forest has been gradually transformed to a high forest and its age has increased to the today’s average of 70, sometimes over 120 years. The dramatic change in the management has caused a large change in ecological conditions. Light woods, hosting many species occurring in light- and warm-demanding conditions, have shifted to mesic, i.e. moister and nutrient-richer forests than ever before. A marked decrease in diversity in forest understorey has been a consequence. This trend was revealed by a comparison of nearly 200 vegetation plots from 1953–1964 with their 2002–2003 replicates, i.e. after 40 to 50 years. A similar comparison is available for soils with 34 repeated pedological profiles. The aim of the present management is to restore coppices with partial preservation of some stands in a non-intervention regime. A set of 80 permanent plots has been established in 2008 in order to monitor the consequent environmental and vegetation changes, as well as diversity of invertebrates, with a monitoring period of 5–10 years.
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