Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 461–475 | Cite as

Impacts of forest loss in the eastern Carpathian Mountains: linking remote sensing and sediment changes in a mid-altitude catchment (Red Lake, Romania)

  • Aritina HaliucEmail author
  • Angelica Feurdean
  • Marcel Mîndrescu
  • Alexandru Frantiuc
  • Simon M. HutchinsonEmail author
Original Article


Worldwide accelerated forest loss and the associated environmental impacts are important environmental concerns. In this study, we integrate evidence from historical maps and a Landsat-derived time series of catchment-scale forest cover changes with a multi-proxy, palaeolimnological reconstruction spanning the last 150 years from Red Lake (Eastern Carpathians, Romania) to better understand the impact of long-term forest changes on catchment erosion and sediment accumulation. We are able to consider two time windows. Firstly, we show that during the traditional (1840–1948) and socialist (1948–1989) periods, catchment changes and sediment responses, as reflected in the sediment accumulation rate, detrital input and grain size were moderate and likely reflect the combined result of known periods of excessive precipitation and local-scale forest disturbances. Secondly, and in contrast, rapid responses in catchment-scale geomorphological processes to forest loss are evident during the post-socialist land use period (1987–2010). We found that the first land restitution period (1987–1999) and the first part of the second land restitution period (2000–2002) had a greater impact on forest loss and subsequent catchment processes with sediment accumulation rates increasing from 0.5 cm year−1 to 1.2 cm year−1. Finally, environmental impacts of forest changes were strongly dependent on the size of the area deforested, its location within the catchment, susceptibility to erosion and geomorphological thresholds. In a region noted for accelerated recent forest loss, our study highlights the potential of combining historical maps, satellite images and sediment proxies for documenting such changes and highlights the need for more strategic and sustainable environmental management planning.


Forest change Maps Satellite images Lake infilling Erosion Romania 



AH and AF acknowledge ERASMUS Program for facilitating access to laboratory facilities and AF from FE-1969/4_1. Patrick Griffiths and Richard Armitage are gratefully acknowledged for providing the remotely sensed dataset and for its preliminary GIS processing. We wish to thank Gabriela Florescu, Andrei Zamosteanu and Daniel Forgaci for their assistance in the field. The editor and two anonymous reviewers helped to improve a previous version of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

10113_2018_1416_MOESM1_ESM.docx (299 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 298 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Institute of the University of BucharestUniversity of BucharestBucharestRomania
  2. 2.Department of GeographyStefan cel Mare University of SuceavaSuceavaRomania
  3. 3.Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research CentreFrankfurtGermany
  4. 4.School of Environment and Life ScienceUniversity of SalfordSalfordUK

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