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Large, old trees are keystone ecological structures, their decline having disproportional ecological consequences. There is virtually no information available regarding the status and occurrence of old trees in traditional cultural landscapes from Eastern Europe. In this study, we explore the environmental determinants of the old oaks found in wood-pastures from a changing traditional rural landscape from Central Romania. Both the old oaks and the wood-pastures harboring them have exceptional cultural, historical, and ecological values, yet are vulnerable to land-use change. We surveyed 41 wood-pastures from Southern Transylvania and counted the old oaks in them. We then related the number of old oaks from these wood-pastures to a set of local and landscape level variables related to wood-pastures. We found 490 old oaks in 25 wood-pastures. The number of old oaks was positively related to the size of the wood-pasture and the amount of pasture and forest around it (500 m buffer), and negatively related to the proximity of the village. Furthermore, we found a significant interaction between the effects of sheepfolds in the wood-pasture and the size of the wood-pasture on the number of old trees, indicating a negative influence of sheepfolds on the number of old trees in smaller sized wood-pastures. There is an increasing risk for losing old trees in the traditional cultural landscapes due to the lack of formal recognition of these trees. Therefore, while presenting the positive example of local initiatives and citizen science, we argue for an urgent development and implementation of conservation policies along with education strategies targeting the old trees and rural communities from the changing traditional cultural landscapes of Eastern Europe.
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- Environmental determinants of the old oaks in wood-pastures from a changing traditional social–ecological system of Romania
Cosmin Ioan Moga
Raluca I. Băncilă
- Springer Netherlands
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