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Book chapter - Peer-reviewed, 2013

Maintaining cultural and natural biodiversity in the Carpathian Mountain ecoregion: need for an integrated landscape approach.

Törnblom, Johan; Svoboda, Miroslav; Rozulowicz, Laurentiu; Standovár, Tibor; Perzanowski, Kajetan; Halada, L’uboš; Cupa, Petr; Pătru-Stupariu, Ileana; Molnar, Zsolt; Axelsson, Robert; Angelstam, Per; Elbakidze, Marine


Landscapes located in the periphery of economic development, such as in parts of the Carpathian ecoregion, host remnants of both near-natural ecosystems and traditional agricultural land use systems. Such landscapes are important both for in situ conservation of natural and cultural biodiversity, and as references for biodiversity restoration elsewhere in Europe. This paper first reviews the contemporary understanding of benchmarks for biodiversity conservation in terms of ecosystems with natural disturbance regimes and pre-industrial cultural landscapes. Second, after providing a historical background, we review the challenges to natural and cultural biodiversity conservation and discuss current development trajectories. Third, we provide concrete examples from six Carpathian areas with different proportions of natural and cultural biodiversity. Fourth, we discuss the need for a diversity of management systems toward protection, management and restoration, spatial planning, and multi-sector governance for conservation of natural and cultural landscapes’ biodiversity. Finally, we stress the need to encourage integration of management, planning and governance of social and ecological systems to maintain natural and cultural biodiversity. The natural vegetation of the Carpathian Mountains is mostly forests and woodlands. Natural disturbances as wind, snow, frost, fire and flooding as well as insects and fungi resulted in forests characterized by old and large trees, diverse horizontal and vertical structures, and large amounts of dead wood in various stages of decay. While some near-natural forests remain, in most of the Carpathian ecoregion pre-industrial cultural landscapes evolved. Human use created traditional village system with infield houses, gardens, fields, meadows and outfield meadows and pastures, and woodlands which not only provide ecosystem services but also represent cultural heritage. The maintenance of natural and cultural biodiversity may require active management of species, habitats and processes. However, designing management systems that emulate natural and cultural landscape’s disturbance regimes is a major challenge requiring collaboration of private, public and civic sector stakeholders, and integration of social and ecological systems. Maintaining and restoring the traditional village system’s social capital as well as functional networks of protected areas and implementing sustainable forest management in managed forests are thus crucial. The Carpathian ecoregion forms a quasi-experiment with new country borders that have created stark contrasts among regions regarding natural and cultural biodiversity. This ecoregion can therefore be seen as a landscape-scale laboratory for systematic studies of interactions between ecological and social systems to support the development of an integrated landscape approach to biodiversity conservation and cultural heritage.

Published in

Environmental Science and Engineering
2013, pages: 393-424
Book title: The Carpathians: Integrating Nature and Society Towards Sustainability
ISBN: 978-3-642-12725-0
Publisher: Springer

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Halada, L’uboš
Slovak Academy of Sciences
Cupa, Petr
Lower Morava Biosphere Reserve
Axelsson, Robert
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management
Perzanowski, Kajetan
Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN)
Rozulowicz, Laurentiu
University of Bucharest
Molnar, Zsolt
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Standovár, Tibor
Eötvös Loránd University
Pătru-Stupariu, Ileana
University of Bucharest
Svoboda, Miroslav
Czech University of Life Sciences Prague
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, School for Forest Management

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land
SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

UKÄ Subject classification

Human Geography
Environmental Management

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