Forest expansion versus the preservation of open landscapes in
Processes in space and time, impacts upon landscape ecology, political
In many regions of Europe the forest area is on the increase as
a consequence of the decline and abandonment of agriculture in marginal
areas. Forest expansion holds many opportunities, but also poses
numerous problems for communities, tourism and nature conservation.
A particular problem is the loss of species rich open and semi-open
landscapes. Therefore, an understanding of the processes, consequences
and political control options associated with forest expansion are
of great social importance.
Objective of the project
The objective of this trans-disciplinary project is to gain insights
into the extent of forest expansion to date and the expected expansion
in the future, as well as its impacts in terms of nature conservation
and into the driving forces behind this trend based on the example
of Baden-Württemberg. Subsequently, political and landscape
planning instruments designed to steer further expansion are to
- How have the forest-open land proportions developed historically?
- How do the various stakeholders perceive the situation?
- What are the consequences of forest expansion, particularly
from a nature conservation perspective?
- What factors determine the forest-open land proportions?
- How will this develop in the future?
- How can it be steered successfully?
Two spatial levels are taken into consideration. The first level
is that of the state Baden-Württemberg. To consolidate the
study, five communities are selected, each with varying natural
conditions and forest-open land proportions. The communities are:
- Bad Rippoldsau-Schapbach
(northern Black Forest, forest cover 91%)
(central Black Forest, forest cover 82%)
(southern Black Forest, forest cover 71%)
- Ratshausen / Hausen am Tann
(Alb foothills/Alb escarpment, forest cover 55%)
(Alp foothills, forest cover 25%)
The project is divided into five interlinked work packages:
- A historical landscape analysis facilitating a space-time
description of landscape changes as well as the primary driving
forces since the end of the 19th century.
- An analysis of existing political programmes and local
steering approaches to provide insights into success factors and
potential for improvement of the steering of afforestation and
the preservation of open land.
- Various individual investigations to illuminate, for
example, the impacts of forest expansion on climate and tourism,
to assess the different land use options from a landscape planning
perspective and to investigate the possibilities for the removal
of barriers with respect to communal forms of utilisation that
can be promoted by the preservation of an open landscape.
- The analysis and updating of key factors in landscape development
(e.g., economic) are to be expressed in scenarios of the future
development of the forest-open land proportions.
- An early warning system is to be developed to aid in
the early recognition and combating of undesirable landscape developments,
particularly at community level.
The objective of the project is to produce at a high scientific
level results with practical relevance. To achieve this, the knowledge
and perspectives of the stakeholders will be incorporated into the
project at all stages. This will involve::
- Constant consulting with representatives of the relevant
- Events held 'on site' in the research communities
The results of the project will be prepared in such a way that
they are of use to the following target groups:
- Political institutions and authorities, for example, the Ministry
of Nourishment and the Rural Area in Baden-Württemberg, the
State Authority for Nature Protection,
- Scientific facilities, for example, the European Forum on Nature
Conservation and Pastoralism,
- Foresters, farmers, the local population
- Organisations involved in regional development, agriculture,
forestry, nature conservation and tourism, for example, landscape
planning associations, nature park societies, leader-action groups
- Community administrations
April 2005 - March 2008
Umwelt und ihre Sicherung" (BWPLUS) Programme
Space-time landscape analysis
Landscape planning assessment