, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 185-198
Date: 28 Nov 2008

Changes in landscape naturalness derived from a historical land register—a case study from NE Germany

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Introduction

The naturalness of landscapes and its assessment is a major issue in landscape management and nature conservation (Ridder 2007a; Verhoog et al. 2007). Additionally, natural sites serve as a reference for ecosystem restoration and landscape planning (Siipi 2004; SER 2004; van Andel and Aronson 2006; Zerbe et al. 2009). However, it is often not clearly specified what naturalness is or could be (Ridder 2007b) with regard to time scale and human impact. Definitions and methods of assessment have been introduced and discussed by various authors (see for example Peterken 1996; Machado 2004; Kowarik 2006; Timmermann et al. 2006a; Ridder 2007b; Walentowski and Winter 2007; Reif and Walentowski 2008). The definition of a starting point (“natural state") with which ecosystems or landscapes in a given condition are to be compared turns out to be a crucial point. In most of these studies vegetation is identified as a measure for naturalness, as vegetation reflects anthropogenically cha