Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 22, Issue 9, pp 2023–2039 | Cite as

Using forest history and spatial patterns to identify potential high conservation value forests in Romania

  • Ileana Pătru-StupariuEmail author
  • Per Angelstam
  • Marine Elbakidze
  • Alina Huzui
  • Kjell Andersson
Original Paper


Naturally dynamic forests have a high proportion of biotopes with old large trees, diverse vertical and horizontal structure at multiple scales, and much dead wood. As such, they provide habitat to species and ecosystem processes that forests managed for wood production cannot provide to the same degree. Whether termed old-growth, ancient, virgin, intact, primeval or continuity forests, a major challenge and need is to map such potential high conservation value forest for subsequent inclusion in functional habitat networks for biodiversity conservation in forest landscapes. Given that the delivery time of natural forest properties is much longer than of industry wood, we explore the usefulness of using historical maps to identify forests that have been continuously present for 220 years (potential old-growth) versus 140 years (potential aging forest) in a case study in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains (see Online Resource 1). While the total forest cover increased by 35 % over the past two centuries, the area of potential aging and potential old-growth forest declined by 56 and 34 %, respectively. Spatial modelling of edge effects and patch size for virtual species with different requirements indicated an even greater decrease in the area of functional habitat networks of old-growth and ageing forest. Our analyses show that compared to simple mapping of potential high conservation forests, the area of functional habitat patches is severely overestimated, and caution is needed when estimating the area of potential high conservation value forests that form functional habitat networks, i.e. a green infrastructure. In addition, the landscape and regional scale connectivity of patches needs to be considered. We argue that the use of historical maps combined with assessment of spatial patterns is an effective tool for identifying and analyzing potential high conservation value forests in a landscape context.


Forest continuity Green infrastructure Multi-temporal spatial analysis Trajectories of change Romanian Carpathians 



This research was partially supported by grants to Per Angelstam from FORMAS and Marcus and Amalia Wallenbergs Minnesfond, as well as a grant of Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, CNDI-UEFISCDI, project number PN-II-PT-PCCA-2011-3.2-0084. Special thank to Mihai-Sorin Stupariu for useful discussions and explanations concerning landscape metrics and to Matthias Baumann for very professional comments that helped to clarify many issues. We wish to thank the editor and the three anonymous reviewers for very constructive suggestions that contributed to improve the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10531_2013_523_MOESM1_ESM.jpg (321 kb)
Online Resource 1 Evolution of potential old-growth (existing in 1790) and potential ageing forests (appearedbetween 1790 and 1867) in Sinaia – Romanian Carpathians (JPG 322 kb)
10531_2013_523_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (22 kb)
Online Resource 2 Terms defining natural forests (PDF 23 kb)
10531_2013_523_MOESM3_ESM.jpg (13.1 mb)
Online Resource 3 Source maps: 1 (Specht map, 1790); 2 (Szathmáry, 1867); 3 (Topographic map, 1940); 4(Topographic map, 1970); 5 (Topographic map, 1989); 6 (Topographic map, 1995); 7 (Orthophotomaps, 2010) (JPG 13385 kb)
10531_2013_523_MOESM4_ESM.jpg (2.9 mb)
Online Resource 4 Land cover maps (JPG 2978 kb)
10531_2013_523_MOESM5_ESM.pdf (6 kb)
Online Resource 5 AREA (ha) gained/lost by forest in relationship to other land cover types (PDF 7 kb)
10531_2013_523_MOESM6_ESM.pdf (45 kb)
Online Resource 6 The share of transitions (PDF 46 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ileana Pătru-Stupariu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Per Angelstam
    • 2
  • Marine Elbakidze
    • 2
  • Alina Huzui
    • 3
  • Kjell Andersson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Regional Geography and Environment, Transdisciplinary Research Centre Landscape—Territory—Information Systems, Faculty of GeographyUniversity of BucharestBucharestRomania
  2. 2.Forest-Landscape-Society Research Group, School for Forest Management, Faculty of Forest SciencesSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesSkinnskattebergSweden
  3. 3.Transdisciplinary Research Centre Landscape—Territory—Information Systems, Faculty of GeographyUniversity of BucharestBucharestRomania

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