Culturally modified trees or wasted timber: Different approaches to marked trees in Poland’s Białowieża Forest

SAMOJLIK, Tomasz, FEDOTOVA, Anastasia, NIECHODA, Tomasz and ROTHERHAM, Ian (2019). Culturally modified trees or wasted timber: Different approaches to marked trees in Poland’s Białowieża Forest. PLOS ONE, 14 (1).

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Studies of past forest use traditions are crucial in both understanding the present state of the oldest European forests, and in guiding decisions on future forest conservation and management. Current management of Poland’s Białowieża Forest (BF), one of the best-preserved forests of the European lowlands, is heavily influenced by anecdotal knowledge on forest history. Therefore, it is important to gain knowledge of the forest’s past in order to answer questions about its historical administration, utilisation, and associated anthropogenic changes. Such understanding can then inform future management. This study, based on surveys in Belarussian and Russian archives and a preliminary field survey in ten forest compartments of Białowieża National Park, focuses on culturally-modified trees (CMTs), which in this case are by-products of different forms of traditional forest use. Information about the formation of the CMTs can then be used to provide insight into former forest usage. Two types of CMTs were discovered to be still present in the contemporary BF. One type found in two forms was of 1) pine trees scorched and chopped in the bottom part of the trunk and 2) pine trees with carved beehives. A second type based on written accounts, and therefore known to be present in the past (what we call a ‘ghost CMT’), was of 3) lime-trees with strips of bark peeled from the trunk. Written accounts cover the period of transition between the traditional forest management (BF as a Polish royal hunting ground, until the end of the eighteenth century) and modern, “scientific” forestry (in most European countries introduced in the second half of the nineteenth century). These accounts document that both types of CMTs and the traditional forest uses responsible for their creation were considered harmful to “rational forestry” by the nineteenth-century forest administration. Thus the practices which created CMTs were banned and the trees gradually removed from the forest. Indeed, these activities drew the attention of forest administrators for several decades, and in our view delayed the introduction of new, timber-oriented, forest management in the BF.

Item Type: Article
Editor - Heinze, Berthold
Additional Information: ** From PLOS via Jisc Publications Router **Journal IDs: eissn 1932-6203 **Article IDs: publisher-id: pone-d-18-11403 **History: published_online 23-01-2019; accepted 07-01-2019; collection 2019; submitted 04-05-2018
Uncontrolled Keywords: Research Article, Biology and life sciences, Ecology and environmental sciences
Identification Number:
SWORD Depositor: Margaret Boot
Depositing User: Margaret Boot
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2019 11:09
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 05:49

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