Open Journal of Forestry
2014. Vol.4, No.1, 75-84
Published Online January 2014 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ojf) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ojf.2014.41012
Classification System for Monitoring Historic Changes in Forest
and Non-Forest Woody Vegetation—A Basis for Management
Jan Skaloš*, Zdeněk Keken, Helena Justová, Kateřina Křováková, Hana Chaurová
Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague,
Prague, Czech Republic
Email: *email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
Received October 12th, 2013; revised November 19th, 2013; accepted December 18th, 2013
Copyright © 2014 Jan Skaloš et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Co mmons At-
tribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited. In accordance of the Creative Commons Attribution License all Copyrights ©
2014 are reserved for SCIRP and the owner of the intellectual property Jan Skaloš et al. All Copyright © 2014
are guarded by law and by SCIRP as a guardian.
Forest and non-forest vegetation fulfils many non-productive and productive functions. A good under-
standing of the trajectories and drivers of th e woody vegetation change is necessary for th e relevant man-
agement. Recently, the number of studies devoted to monitoring forest cover changes has increased.
However, these works do not fully distinguish between different categories of forest and non-forest
woody vegetation. The main aim of the study was to propose a classification system for monitoring his-
toric changes of woody vegetation in the landscape. The period of the last 150 years was mapped through
three time-lines (1842, 1953 and 2011). Data were obtained by interpreting h istor ic maps (Stable Cadas-
tral map of 1842) and historical (1953) and current orthophoto (2011) using ArcGIS tools. The classific a-
tion was applied on the example of Sokolov region (57 km2) located in western Bohemia. The result of
the research is a proposal for classifying woody vegetation stands into four categories based on the struc-
tural and localisation criteria: (1) Line adjacent woodlands, (2) Landscape woodlands, (3) Settlement
woodlands, and (4) Compact woodlands. Information on the woody vegetation development using the
proposed classification system is important for understanding the patterns, pressures, and driving forces
that led to the formation of the present-day forest and non-forest woody vegetation in the landscape. T he
results can also be applied as a basis for future forest management practice as they can be used in other
different fields, e.g. history, archaeology etc.
Keywords: Forest Development; Forest and Non-Forest Woody Vegetation; ArcGIS; Sokolov Region
Apart from the productive roles, forest and non-forest woody
vegetation has further non-production roles in the landscape
(Ryszkowski & Kedziora, 2007), such as ecological, landscape-
forming, eco-stabilising, and aes thetics (McCollin, 2000). Non-
forest woody vegetation plays an essential ecological role, es-
pecially in intensiv ely used landscapes (Bulíř & Škorpík, 1987).
Erosion control function refers to a positive effect on the i n te n -
sity of water runoff, therefore reducing the risk of soil erosion
(Pattanayak & Mercer, 1997). It was recently confirmed that it is
also important in mitigating climat e change effects (Nair et a l .,
2009; Plieninger, 2011; Verchot et al., 2007; Manning et al.,
2006). Small woodlands scattered in the landscape have become
significant ecosy s t ems that are important for biodiversity, both
in agriculture (Manning et al., 2006) and in urban landscapes
(Jim & Chen, 2009). Woody vegetation features in the landscape
bear witness to the historical utilisation of the landscape
(Krčmářová, 2012), thus playing an important role in the
so-called memory or heritage of the landscape (Schama, 1995).
Forests in most European countries experienced fundamental
changes in the Holocene (Peterken, 1976; Hultberg, 2008;
Ohlson & Tryterud, 1999; Mercuri et al., 2011). The present
condition of the Czech forest landscape is the result of the long
interrelation between men and the natural and cultural landscape.
An important milestone in the huma n attitude to the forest in the
Czech lands was the adoption of Forest legislation in 1754,
which laid the foundations for forest management. Although the
Neolithic period is regarded as a breakpoint in man’s growing
impact on the Czech landscape and forests, the fundamental
changes have occurred over the past five thousand years
(Svoboda, 1952; Nožička, 1975; Löw & Míchal, 2003; Sádlo et
al., 2005; Ložek, 2007). The present methodology platform of
historical geography (Semotanová, 2006) enables an extensive
and complex analysis of transformations of the Earth’s surface
and its utilisation (changes in the so-called land cover/land use).
There are r ecently published works that tackle transformations
of forest cover (Brůna & Křováková, 2006; Mathys et al., 2006;
Kozak et al., 2008; Brandt et al., 2012; Plieninger et al., 2012a, b;
Skaloš et al., 2012; Peterken, 1976; Ohlson & Tryterud, 1999;
Berg et al., 2008; Hultberg, 2008; Bo ll s c hweiler et al., 2008;
Oosterbaan & Pel s, 2007). Research studies performed by en-
vironmental archaeologists or historians help to integrate con-
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J. SKALOŠ ET AL.
siderations on the natural forest dynamics and cultural history of
a country (Beneš et al., 2002; Cílová & Woitsch, 2012). The
identification and protection of natural or remnant patches of
woody vegetation is an essential component of biodiversity
conservation within these hea v ily transformed and managed
agricultural landscapes. Remnant patches of vegetation may
comprise important reservoirs of biodiversity and may contain
biotic and structural legacies that are important for understand-
ing and restoring native ecosystems (Lindenmayer & Franklin,
2002). Indeed, the overall contribution of these areas to habitat
provision, biodiversity conservation, and the maintenance of key
ecological processes is likely far in excess of that expected based
on their proportional extent (Lindenmayer & Franklin, 2002;
Schulte et al., 2006).
Apart from forest stands, the European landscape contains
various types of non-forest woody vegetation, such as small
landscape woodlots, adjacent linear woody vegetation along
roads, streams, etc. (Auclair et al., 2000). Terminology related to
woody vegetation features in the landscape is rather inconsistent
(Forman & Godron, 1986; Bulíř & Škorpík, 1987; Ihse, 1995;
Fjellstad & Dramstad, 1999; Sklenička & Lhota, 2002; Lin-
denmaye r & Franklin, 2002; Schulte et al., 2006; Rayburn &
Schulte, 2009; Kolařík et al., 2003; Součková, 2002; Sklenička
et al., 2009; Skaloš & Engstová, 2010; Plieninger et al., 2012a).
In the Czech Republic, the term “permanent greenery” is used to
describe forests, non-forest woody vegetation (scattered land-
scape woodlands and adjacent linear woodlands), as well as
orchards, vineyards, hop fields, meadows, pastures, and sparse
wood elements. Scattered woody vegetation refers to individual
trees, bushes, or s ma ll woodlands in the open landscape, either
on agricultural la nd or on non-agricultural land. In the Land
Register of the Czech Republic, these landscape segments are
not registered as forest or agricultural crops since they have
different origins, ground disposition, spatial form and species
composition (Kolařík et al., 2003). The Land Register of the
Czech Republic is a public data set about the real estates in the
Czech Republic, including their description and a list of geo-
metric and positional determination (ČUZK, 2013). Non-forest
woody vegetation can be categorised according to location in the
terrain, ground plan disposition, and priority function (Bulíř &
Škorpík, 1987). According to the law (No. 289/1995 Coll.), a
forest is a wood with its environment and land designated for
fulfilling the forest’s functions (the so-called PUPFL). In for-
es try, we can distinguish between a forest stand and a growth
stand (Poleno & Vacek, 2007).
Fjellstad & Dramstad (1999) distinguished among coniferous,
deciduous, and mi x ed woody growth in the landscape; Cousins
& Ihse (1998), in contrast, paid detailed attention to the different
age groups of the forest. Ihse (1995) recorded only shrubs, linear
segments such as roadsides, stonewalls, ditches or water runs, or
individual trees; this work also distinguished amo n g point ob-
jects, such as solitary wood pl ants and pad objects. Strand et al.
(2002) pursued only the development of shrubby vegetation,
while Clare & Bunce (2006) focused on solitary wood plants.
Oosterbaan & Pels (2007) presented a detailed methodology for
monitoring small landscape elements, including solitary trees
and lines of trees, but this study focused only on an evaluation of
the current state of forests and th eir functions, and did not at-
tempt to analyse the historical development of those elements.
Sklenička et al. (2009), in a recent analysis of changes in the
medieval agricultural land around villages, focused on the de-
velopment of linear woody vegetation structures. An interesting
category is referred to as “farm trees”, which are identical with
“solitary trees” (Arnold & Deewes, 1997; Van der Horst, 2006)
or “trees outside forests” (FAO, 2001). T his term has been de-
fined by the FAO as “all trees not falling within the definition of
non-forest woody growth and forest trees” (FAO, 2001). Non-
forest woody growth can be subdivided into three categories:
growth inside villages, scattered vegetation in the open land-
scape, and scattered roadside vegetation avenues (Skaloš &
Engstová, 2010). Vláčilová (2011) divided woody growth into
forest wood elemen ts—scattered and lined; to analyse the de-
velopment of these growth areas, however, she used only the old
medium-scale maps and military mapping 1, 2 and 3. If they are
further sub-categorized, the forests are divided only into conif-
erous, deciduous, and mixed.
Recently, several key studies have been devoted to monitoring
forest or non-forest cover changes (Mathys et al., 2006; Kozak et
al., 2008; Brandt et al., 2012; Plieninger et al., 2012a, b; Skaloš
et al., 2012). However, certain deficits of methodological in-
formation on the historical development of forest and non-forest
woods in the landscape are becoming evident. Namely, pub-
lished works do not fully distinguish between forest and differ-
ent categories of non-forest woody vegetation in the landscape
(little landscape woodlands scattered in the landscape, adjacent
linear woodlands along roads and streams), which is important
for respecting the different dynamics and functional aspects of
the mentioned different categories.
The main aim of the study lies in the methodological level. It
aims to propose a relevant and common classification sy st em for
monitoring historic changes of all structural types of woody
vegetation in the landscape. It should be also applicable to a
variety of different source data, and for different localities
characterised by differing landscape and forest types. This in-
formation is important for understanding the patterns, pressures,
and forces that led to the formation of the present-day wood
vegetation (Bürgi & Schuler, 2003). The study may provide new
theoretical and methodology bases for further practical disci-
plines, such as forestry, history, landscape planning, land con-
solidation process, etc. (Lannér, 2003; Jordan et al., 2005).
Material and Methods
The study area was 57 km2 and included eight historical ca-
dastres loca te d in the Sokolov region in the west of the Czech
Republic (Figure 1). This landscape has undergone significant
and dynamic changes in the past 150 years mainly due to brown
coal mining (Pecharová et al., 2011). However, there are also
Location of the area of interest in the Czech Republic (CENIA, 2011).
J. SKALOŠ ET AL.
other factors that have had a significant impact on the study
area landscape change (urbanisation, road construction, land
consolidation process, natural succession, forestry etc.). These
have become a substantial criteria for the choice of the study
area. The first mining records date back to the 17th century,
before which it had been a fertile agricultural area (Prokop
1994). The Sokolov Basin forms part of the Krušné Hory range
of the Czech massif, and l ies in the southwestern wing of the
sub-Krušné Hory rift valley. The development of the rift was
accompanied by volcanic ac ti vity and by the emergence the
large sub-Krušné Hory la ke that no longer exists (Toušek et al.,
2005); the large Sokolov Basin was created from tertiary vege-
tation growth that continues to be mi n ed for coal today. The
coal is used by many associated industries in this area (e.g. the
Tisová power plant and the Vřesová pressure gasworks).
Stable Cadastre M aps (1842)
Imperial prints of a stable cadastre (ČUZK, 2010) contain
valuable historical information about the land use of the ar ea,
and also the important spatial properties of the landscape. These
maps were provided with parcel numbers and drawn in the scale
of 1:2880. Mapping work in the Czech Republic was carried out
between 1826 and 1842. The maps recorded the original state of
the landscape without additional drawing of later amendments
(Semotánová, 2002; Trpáková et al., 2009). Scanned map lay-
outs of the study area with a vertical and horizontal resolution of
300 dpi were purchased (ČÚZK, 2010).
In the Czech Republic, as well as in many other countries
(Ihse, 1995), a database of black and white historical aerial
photographs from the 1930s onwards is available for landscape
studies (Lipský, 2000; Lipský, 1995; Ihse, 1995; Fjellstad &
Dramstad, 1999; Plieninger, 2011, Bürgi & Schuler, 2003). In the
study, scanned and orthogonalised negatives from the growing
season of 1953 were used (CENIA, 2010) giving information on
the real woody vegetation structures in historic landscape.
To obtain information on the present-day state of woody
vegetation in the study area landscape, orthophotos from 2011
were purchased. They were obtained through the ae rial photog-
raphy process, which was undertaken during the growing season
(the same as for the aerial photos of 1953) of 2011 (CUZK, 2008)
with resolution of 0.5 m. The images were then photogrammet-
rically processed and transformed to the S-JTSK coordinate
sys t em. The average variation of the geodetica lly measured
check points from the identical points on the orthophotomap was
vy he0.36 m, vx i0.33 m. The identified lengths of the error
vectors are not as large as a basic orthophoto pixel (Šíma, 2008).
Processing the Data
Imperial prints of stable cadastre areas and historic aer ial
photographs were acquired as digital data in raster form in high
resolution, Stable Cadastre maps of 300 dpi, historic aerial
photo of 900 dpi (ČÚZK, 2010; CENIA, 2010). This high
resolution enabled the detailed interpretation and provided the
possibility to produce high qu al ity layouts. Whi le historic aerial
photos were obtained as georeferenced (CENIA, 2010), Stable
Cadastre maps were processed using ArcGIS 9.3 (ESRI) and
georectified in the S-JTSK_Krovak_East_North coordinate
sys t em using ground control points (objects or locations in the
landscape where no spatial shift in the landscape is anticipated,
e.g., churches, sm a ll religious architecture, road intersections);
these points must be clear on both historic and present-day
images. When errors occur in the transformation, the parameter
used for estimating the accuracy of the transformation was
RMS error (standard deviation). This adjustment was not nec-
essary for the present-day orthophotos because IMS and WMS
services allow georeferenced layers to be loaded. All base maps
served only as a grid source for extracting data and for creating
new vector layers.
Interpretation of Old Maps, Aerial Photographs and
The interpretation and vectorisation of the Stable Cadastre
maps as well as aerial photographs and orthophotos were exe-
cuted in the GIS environment according to a suggested classi-
fication system. The scale of t he vectorisation was 1:2000. In
the study, only polygons wer e distinguished using the poly-
gonisation (vectorisation) process using the basic polygonisa-
tion functions available within the ArcGIS (ArcView 9.3) soft-
ware. The woody vegetation polygons in the study area were
polygonised based on the visual interpretation of old maps,
aerial photos, and orthophotos. While it is rather simple to
identify woody vegetation on old maps based on the use of the
map legend, it is more difficult on the basis of the aerial photos
and orthophotos. As far as the landscape feature was marked by
treetops or shrub crowns, it was classified as wood vegetation
(forest, scattered wood element, accompanying element of
roads and wa t er runs). To each woody vegetation feature, the
attribute table was added. This attribute table consisted of the
data on the wood elements classification type and the area in
hectares. This provided an opportunity to quantitative ly analyse
time and spatial changes of the wood elements.
Typology of Woody Vegetation
This study focused on only woody vegetation in the landscape,
which is a specific part of the previously defined term greenery.
As different patches of woody vegetation a re characterised by
different dynamics, we distinguished between woody vegetation
in the open landscape and woody vegetation in built-up areas.
We classified woody vegetation into four categories based on the
location, size, and shape of woody stand features captured from
the various data sources (Table 1). However, the woody vege-
tation features consisted of patch, and also linear landscape
structural features (Forman & Godron, 1986).
In this s tud y, a decision on whether th e woody vegetation
element was classified as linear or patch was made by subjective
estimation and no shape or perimeter-to-edge ratio were calcu-
lated. However, basic landscape ecology criteria defining basic
landscape structural element s were applied, e.g. linear landscape
features referring to those elements whose length substantially
exceeds the width (Forman & Godron, 1986). Woodlands were
classified as “settlement woodlands” in the event that the woody
component followed directly on the built-up areas without in-
terruption. Compact woodlands refer to those woody vegetation
elements in the open landscape that are larger than 3 hectares,
and are characterised by continuous forest cover. These woody
elements mostly refer to the official forest land registered by the
Land Registry, which is a functional category. However, the
criteria applied here to differentiate woody vegetation resulted in
OPEN ACCESS 77
J. SKALOŠ ET AL.
Detailed description of categories in different woody stands.
Descript i on
This category refers to woody stands located within the built
-up areas. This refers to citie s , towns, and villages, strip developments along
transport infrastructures, and areas occupied by shopping centres, industrial and commercial complexes. Settlement
woodlands are usually
exposed to an
intensive anthropogenic pressure as they are located within the built-up areas and fulfil many functions
(mainly aesthetic, nature conservation, and partly productive).
Line adjacent woodlands refer to linear landscape structural features in the landscape located along communication corridors
(pathways, roads, motorways, train tracks), along watercourses or along elements that are linear
-shaped in an open landscape
. terraces). They provide mainly aesthetic and nature conservation functions.
This refers to patches of woody vegetation in the open landscape that are smaller than 3 hectares and typically
by agricultural land, or
permanent grassland. These features can provide many different functions—primarily nature
conservation, aesthetic and productive timber areas.
are stands of woody vegetation in an open landscape. They typically are larger than 3 hectares and are characterised by
continuous forest cover . These woody elements mostly refer to the official forest land registered by the Land Registry office
, which is a
functional category. They are primarily for timber production, but also provide nature conservation and aesthetic services.
We classified woody vegetation into four following categories
based on the location, size, and shape of features:
Line adjacent woodlands,
For the purposes of this study, characteristics of the landscape
macrostructure were calculated (Lipský, 1995) using hectares
and a percentage to quantify changes trajectories of the woody
vegetation categories (area in hectares, proportion in percent-
ages). With the help of changes in these characteristics over time,
it was possible to execute an analysis of the development of
woody growth, and conduct a spatial-temporal analysis in Arc-
Spatial Analysis of Woodla nd Development
Old-growth ancient woodlands play an important role in na-
ture conservation (Rayburn & Schulte, 2009). Given that these
areas stand for the features of the landscape memory (Skaloš &
Kašparová, 2012), they are valuable from the cultural heritage
point of view as they bear information on the long-term rela-
tionships of our cultural landscape (Brandt et al., 2012). The
analysis was performed in GIS, using the “intersection” function
available in the ArcView 9.3 software. This analyti ca l GIS tool
allows the user to quantify and locate the temporal and spatial
changes in the observed woodland patches resulting in quanti-
fying and locating old-growth woodlands that have not changed
over 50 years (between 1953 and 2011).
Development of Wood Elements
Our results suggest that woody vegetation has changed con-
siderably in the study region from 1842-2011 (Table 2, Figures
2-5). Specifically, in 1842 the most prevalent type in the area of
interest was compact woodlands (1195 ha, 72.2% of the total
area of the woody vegetation in the study area), followed by line
adjacent woodlands (232 ha, 14.0%), landscape woodlands (208
ha, 12.6%), and final ly settlement woodlands (20 ha, 1.2%)
Representation of individual woodlands categories.
Distribution of individual woodlands categories in 1953.
Until 1953 (Table 2), the most prevalent ca t eg ory was still
compact woodlands, but this category dropped to 963.3 ha (76.4%
of the total area of the woody vegetation in the study area); this is
a reduction in absolute area by 231.7 hectares. However, as the
total area of woody vegetation decreased, the percentage of the
compact woodlands increased up to 76.4%. The second most
prevalent category in 1953 was landscape woodlands (180.1 ha,
14.3%). Here, too, there was a decrease in absolute area of 27.9
hectares, i.e. a decrease by 1.7%, which was followed by line
adjacent woodlands (67.3 hectares, 5.3%). This category showed
J. SKALOŠ ET AL.
Changes in different t ypes of wood elements.
1842 1953 2011
Area (ha) % Area (ha) % Area (ha) %
Line adja cent woodla nds 232 14 67.3 5.3 164 8.3
Compact woodlands 1195 72.2 963.3 76.4 1398 70.8
Settlement woodlands 20 1.2 49.8 4 104 5.3
Landscape woodlands 208 12.6 180.1 14.3 309 15.6
Stability of the categories between 1953 and 2011.
Distribution of individual woodlands categories in 2011.
a steep decline in absolute area by 164.7 h ectares (8.7%). Set-
tlement woodlands was the least represented category in 1953,
with a total area of 49.8 hectares (4%), and the same was true in
the earlier previous period. Settlement woodlands were the only
category to record a positive growth trend; the increase in total
area was 29.8 hectares, or an increase of 2.7% (Figure 3).
In the most recent reporting period (2011), there was typically
an increase in the absolute a r ea of all categories of woody
vegetation. The most prevalent category was again compact
woodlands (1398.1 ha, an increase by 203.1 ha over the value for
1842 and an increase by 434.8 ha in comparison with 1953), and
the second largest category was landscape woodlands (309.2
hectares, an increase by 101.2 hectares in comparison with 1842
and an increase by 129.0 ha in comparison with 1953). In 2011,
line adjacent woodlands covered 164 ha, representing a decrease
in area by 68.1 hectares in comparison with 1842, but an increase
by 96.6 h ectares in comparison with 1953. Settlement wood-
lands covered 103.6 hectares in 2011, which means an increase
of 83.6 ha in comparison with 1842, and an increase by 53.9 ha
in comparison with 1953 (Table 2, Fig ure 5).
Stability of the Categories between 1953 and 2011.
Between 1953 and 2011, 46.7% of the compact woodlands
remained unchanged, i.e. an area of 450 h a. The second most
stable category was woodlands in the open landscape, in which
there were no changes in an area of 1 7.8 hectares (9.9%). Set-
tlement woodlands remained unchanged on an area of 7.6 ha
(15.2%). The least stable category was line adjacent woodlands,
which remai n ed preserved between 1953 and 2011 over an area
of only 4.2 he ctares (6.3%) (Figure 4).
Driving Forces behind Woo d y Vegetati on Change
Recently, much effort has been devoted to the analysis of the
forest cover drivers (Bürg & Schuler, 2003; Kozak et al., 2008;
Baumann et al., 2012; Brandt et al., 2012; Plieninger et al.,
2012a, b). This study has analysed the dynamics of the devel-
opment of different woody vegetation elemen t s over a ti me
period of 165 years. During this period, the development of
woody vegetation segments were influenced by environmental
factors as well as by economic and social factors (Bičík &
Jeleček, 2001; Turner et al., 1996). In the landscape, there is a
complex system that is structured not only by biological and
biotic components, but also by a certain cultural layer and es-
sence that play s a vital role in the relationship between the
landscape and humans (Dneboská, 2006). When considering
the formation of the landscape and woody vegetation structures
of the study are a presented in this paper, the political changes
of the Czech Republic within the 165-year period under study
should be taken into account. Also, the cultural context is to be
taken into account when analysing landscape and woody vege-
tation historic changes (Lapka, 2008).
An important factor in the development of woody landscape
segments in the area of interest is the worldwide phenomenon of
urbanisation (Minghong et al., 2005; Arribas-Bel et al., 2011;
Wang et al., 2012; Vermeiren et al., 2012; Míchal, 1994); by the
1960s, t hree-quarters of the inhabitants of the Czechoslovak
Republic lived in towns (Blažek & Kubálek, 2008). Other im-
portant factors were collectivisation (from 1951) resulting in
connecting small land plots into large arable blocks (Lipský,
OPEN ACCESS 79
J. SKALOŠ ET AL.
1995; Jech, 2001). Second, the mining industry in the Sokolov
area was expanded from the beginning of the 19th century
(Skaloš & Kašparová, 2012). Forty years of Socialist govern-
ments that aimed to intensify all categories of manufacture.
Before 1953, there were approximately 1,404,000 small farms in
the Czech Republic; after the first wave of sociali s t collectivi-
sation, this number fell to 78,000. In 1989, when socialist rule
came to an end, only 2000 small private farms r emained in the
Czech Republic (Hájek, 2008). Various approaches to farm
management connected with activities such as land consolida-
tion, ploughing the edges of fields, and field road networks were
limiting factors that made the greatest contribution to the
changes in the si z e and location of the accompanying line of
wood elements and wood elements in the open landscape, which
is clearly reflected in their stability between 1953 and 2011
(Skaloš & Molnárová, 2012). The trend towa rd urbanisation,
coupled with the extension of anthropogenic activities into the
open landscape, e.g. mining a nd quarrying, road construction,
commercial sub-urbanisation had a significant negative influ-
ence on the size and integr ity of the comp act woodlands (Keken
et al., 2011; Anděl et al., 2005). Settlement woodlands remained
unchanged between 1953 and 2011, with a total of 7.6 ha
Another limiting factor during the monitored period that in-
fluenced the dynamics mainly of the compact woodlands was the
forest management practise as well as the management of
non-forest areas (areas of land that are not designated to perform
forest functions, but on which compact woody vegetation grows).
When analy sing the significance of driving forces of an envi-
ronmental—economic or social nature—it is necessary to take
into account the conflict between reducing the intensity of land
use and the abandonment of agricultural lan d, leading for ex-
ample to landscape vegetation overgrowing tree s , and, on the
other hand, intensification of farming in the landscape, such as in
the case of forestry (Šlezingr, 2003). This is a general view and
takes into account regional differences. Interpreting the occur-
rence of woody vegetation in the landscape in 1842, it is im-
portant to bear in mind that Stable Cadastre maps show the
landscape at the time of the beginning of the period of the In-
dustrial Revolution (Lipský, 1995; Sýkora, 1998; Semotánová,
2002; Low & Míchal, 2003). In this period, line adjacent
woodlands covered the largest area (232 ha). Settlement and
complex woodlands were spread fairly regularly in the landscape
of 1842 due to the fact that surface coal mining had not affected
the landscape by this year (Pecharová et al., 2011). The distri-
bution of landscape woodlands and the line adjacent woodlands
is primarily linked with a system of small fields with various
methods of farming. Among other things, these elements fulfil
the functions of highlighting land borders and e co -stabilisation
(Sklenička, 2003; Löw & Michal, 2003; Lipský, 2000).
Between 1842 and 1953, the effects of urbanisation on woody
vegetation began to become evident. Urbanisation stands for the
strongest driving forces in shaping the landscape of the 20th
century, including woody vegetation (Minghong et al., 2005;
Arribas-Bel et al., 2011; Wang et al., 2012; Vermei r e n et al.,
2012; Míchal, 1994). The occurrence of the categories analysed
here may significantly document the socio-p ol i tical aspects of
the periods associated with the two world wars. Environmental
problems were increasingly caused by unintended consequences
that were difficult to predict, but did not reduce the taste of
society for risk (Lapka, 2008). It has been shown that ploughing
the fields and industrial exploitation were accompanied by de-
struction of the woody vegetation in the open landscape (Harmer
et al., 2001).
Between 1953 and 2011, it was mostly mining activities in the
northern part of the a r ea of interest, together with urbanisation,
that completely transformed the structure and functions of the
landscape and woody vegetation of the studied landscape
(Pecharová et al., 2011) There was also an association between
urbanisation and the development of linear structures, which
significantly fragmented the compact habitat (Liu et al., 2008;
Noss, 1993; Hlaváč & Anděl, 2001; Kušta et al., 2011). Roads
have an obvious influence on the changes in ecosystems, espe-
cially on landscape structures (Liu et al., 2008). However,
various compensatory measures have occurred to reduce the
fragmentation and the barrier effect. With the growth of ag-
glomerations of built-up areas, the sizes of settlement wood
elements areas have grown as a substitute for natural spaces for
the residents. The mos t recently observed period has produced a
highly significant increase in wood elements across the land-
scape. This is primarily due to management aimed at stabilising
the landscape that was damaged by mining, and secondly due to
the process of natural succession (Uuttera et al., 1996; Koehler,
2000; Woziwoda & Kopeć, 2012).
Discussion on Methodology
Recently, several papers dealing with methodology have fo-
cused on the analysis of forest or non-forest cover changes
(Plieninger et al., 2012a; Pistorius et al., 2012; Achard &
Estreguil, 2003; Mathys et al., 2006; Vogt et al., 2007; Kozak et
al., 2008, Skaloš & Engstová, 2010; Lindberg & Hollaus, 2012).
However, the common typological system enabling the moni-
toring historic changes in woody vegetation is lacking. The
classification syst e m presented in this study is complex and
suitable for wide use in various types of landscapes. The disad-
vantage is the subjectivity of determining the linear and patch
woody vegetation elements and relatively high labour intensity.
In the case of the analysis, the research subjects are different
structural categories of woody vegetation in the landscape.
Because the analysis is retrospective, it is necessary to consider
the different nature of the materials that are used. This has to be
integrated, which leads to the possibility of a range of inaccura-
cies. A key problem with the u se of different types of graphic
source data (historic maps, aerial photos) in landscape change
research is the compatibility data on landscape attributes ob-
tained from different sources, whic h differ in character, scale,
quality, and resolution (Ti már, 2004; Boltižiar et al., 2008;
Skaloš et al., 2011; Plieninger et al., 2012b).
A particular problem, which is necessary to take into account,
is the different nature of historical cadastral maps (cadastral
maps stable from 1842) and aerial photographs. While cadastral
maps provide information on the ownership structure of the
landscape, aerial images contain information about the actual
physical structure of the landscape (Skaloš & Engstová, 2010).
Data on the representation of linear and scattered woody vege-
tation on stable cadastre maps were distorted to some extent. The
reason is that i.e. woody vegetati on was only shown on some
maps, and only in one area. Scattered vegetation was recorded
only schematically. The solution to this problem may be to use
the d a ta correction and other documents, such as maps of the
second Military mapping (Uhlířová, 2002).
Pursuing the research on landscape changes and history,
J. SKALOŠ ET AL.
especially the relatively distant one, might seem a methodical
or purely intellectual exercise. However, understanding the past
is necessary for understanding the present and for right actions
in the present (Bloch, 1952), and this is most apparent in case
of changing landscapes.
Changing lan d use is held to be a crucial factor of global en-
vironment changes (Dale et al., 2000). The landscape change
trajectories are of ten taken into account in conservation ecology
when observing and predicting an influence of landscape
changes on studied species. The woodlands being a highly im-
portant habitat type in landscape, fragmentation (Piquer-Rod-
riguez et al., 2012), connectivity (Theobald et al., 2011), habit at
condition (Klenner et al., 2000) and other parameter s are thor-
oughly studied as to their impact on selected species and their
Studying the historic changes in woodland condition can
give a broader context to the development of management
strategies. Knowledge of the native, old-growth forests func-
tioning drawn from historic sources significantly helps with
their restoration (Axelsson & Ostlund, 2001). Sinc e the wood-
lands are also an important source of fuel biomass, the better
understanding of their structure changes are necessary to plan
the management strategies concerning the responsible energy
policy of the region (Fiorese & Guariso, 2013), especially in the
age of changing clima te (Nitschke & Innes, 2008). In the con-
trary the existing strategies can be evaluated and compared by
model scenarios methods as to their impact on landscape and its
ecological functions (Gustafson & Crow, 1996), which can lead
to reformulating of the management policy.
A detailed classification of woodland types is essential for
determining the ecological and other environmental impacts of
their changes. As Kadıoğulları (2013) in the study on Turkey
sub-temperate forest fragmentation states the increase of total
forested area does not a lways lead to enhancement of landscape
These few examples of many show that studies on landscape
and woodland changes can help to better understanding of their
dynamic and thus better design of planning strategi e s . However,
to put the acquired information into pract ic al life means to build
and keep the strong connections between the research and
stakeholder spheres and to present the results in clear way (Da le
et al., 2000).
The results of this study may further help to understand the
long-term dynamics of the landscape change through learning
the lessons of the history of the woody vegetation in the
post-mining landscape in the north-western part of the Czech
Republic. Here, the development of woody vegetation over the
past 165 y ears has been very dynamic, and the extent to which
each category was analysed fluctuated during certain periods, in
direct relation with the political, social, economic or environ-
mental development of the surveyed region. The results show
that there has been an increasing trend since 1953 in the area of
settlement woodlands. This can be explained as a way of offset-
ting the negative secondary effects of urbanisation that were
rooted in industrial exploitation (brown coal mining) and that
had a significant negative impact on the remaining categories of
woody vegetation, mainly compact woodlands. The dynam ics of
the development of the line adjacent woodlands and landscape
woodlands in all of the time periods studied here could docu-
ment the different approaches mainly to agricultural manage-
ment that the landscape has undergone.
The greatest contribution of the work lies in the methodo-
logical level. Although the proposed methodology should be
seen as an essential step in the initial results of the extensive
research project, the main advantage of the proposed method-
ology is that it enables users to trace back the history of woody
vegetation in separate categori es (forest and non-forest woody
vegetation) respecting the different change dynamics of different
woody stands in the landscape. Non-forest woody vegetation
may be further subdivided based on the structural cri teria into
settlement, landscape, and adjacent linear woodlands. This
information will help to understand historic changes in woody
vegetation in the landscape. The typological system presented in
this study is unique for its complexity and the possibility for
wider use in various types of landscapes. Unfortunately, the
method is flawed, as it consists of applying subjective criteria in
differentiating line a r and patch woody vegetation elements and
no landscape metrics were calculated. Therefore, the application
of landscape metr ics to objectivise the woody vegetation classi-
fication forms the basis for future research aimed at the auto-
mation and objectification of the processes of woody veget ation
elements classifica tion. The disadvantage of the method is that it
is time-consuming as well as labour-intense. For the purpose of
the improvement and correction of historical data regarding the
status and changes in woody vegetation, it will be necessary to
use other types of source da ta (e.g. Military Survey Maps) and
remote sensing methods.
The results of this retrospective study can be used predomi-
nantly in forest management practice, but also in other different
forms of landscape planning practice, e.g. territorial planning,
post-mining landscape reclamation , or regional development
policies that wil l set future trends in the development of areas
from the perspective of woody elements in the landscape. The
key starting point is the understanding of the historical context
and the driving forces involved in its development. Methodo-
logical conclusions of the study are useful in other fields, such as
history, geography, etc.
The work reported on in this paper was supported by Ministry
of Agriculture of the Czech Republic, project No. ČR QH 82106
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