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Scientists have put together the first map of European forests. There are surprisingly many of them

That the deep woods and the dark forests already belong only to children's fairy tales? A current study by Vermont foresters offers a much more positive image of European forests. The interactive map created by them creates a surprisingly large number of primary, almost untouched forests.

"In our study, we demonstrate that although the total area of ​​forests in Europe is rather smaller, there is a comparatively more primary if you want virgin forests than previously thought," says Bill Keeton, a Greenland ecologist at the University of Vermont. This finding is linked to two other, no less important, information. These valuable forest stands are located across Europe. And wherever they occur, they carry exceptional ecological values ​​and biodiversity habitats. Keeton was part of a wider team of researchers who were interested in the nature of European forests. One person would never be able to analyze in detail information related to 3.4 million acres of forest cover in a total of 34 states.

Not touchy? Not at all, rather uninterested

"To be fully understood, we can not say that these primary forests are absolutely untouched by humans and their activities are never affected," explains Franceso Maria Sabatini, principal author of the study. "Something like this is not likely to happen on a densely-inhabited continent of Europe's format." Still, they are forests that do not bear clear signs of human activity. Or, these traces are hidden by ecological renewal processes, natural dynamics, and long decades of interference. "European landscape is affected by human activities for millennia, so it is not surprising that only a small part of forests is considered to be more or less undisturbed. Even this fraction, which is not large in relation to the total size of forests in Europe, plays a crucial role in terms of ecological and conservation significance. "

Up to now, mapping of primary forests has been the domain of regional researchers and national databases, and it has never been said that a pan-European map has been created to scale the breadth of these extraordinary forests. But Sabatini's team is changing. As? As the first to ask for information from hundreds of "local" experts and to direct them to specific locations. But the good news ends. Yes, 89% of these valuable fragments are subject to some form of territorial protection, but only 46% of them are kept under the most severe regime. Which is so little about the forests of such an extraordinary importance. And somewhere the official conservation status is not enough to conserve.


Protection? Cooking in national parks

According to Miroslav Svoboda of the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, one of the co-authors of the study, "the vast areas of these primary forests are currently mined in the mountain ranges of Romania, Slovakia and several Balkan countries." The reason is both illegal mining and high demand for biofuels and energy-grade wood biomass. "The destruction of these forests often occurs without a complete understanding of the irreplaceability of these stands. It is a certain irony that in many cases such devastating mining takes place legally, even in the national parks. Their protection should be one of the priorities of the EU's environmental strategies. "

Author: Radomír Dohnal

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