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Cultural Heritage in Sustainable Forest Management

Nearly all forests in Europe have been shaped by successive generations, each of which has left traces which can still be found in the forest today. Examples of forest heritage include: boundary banks and dykes, celtic fields, burial mounds, charcoal-burning platforms, saw pits, kilns, features associated with game management and forestry, ancient wood pastures, historic planted forests, stands of old industrial or pre-industrial coppice, coppice with standards, pollards, shredded or other 'working trees' for the production of acorns, fodder, tar, resins and other products.

Across Europe these valuable forest sites and historical artefacts are being damaged by routine forest management activities. This damage, though usually unintentional, is a result of poor knowledge of cultural heritage in forestry and a lack of experience in integrating cultural heritage into forest management. Forest managers and forest owners are often unaware of all the historical artefacts that may be found in their forests.

A Field Guide to Cultural Heritage

pro-probosDutch foundation Stichting Probos has undertaken significant research about the cultural heritage of forests. In 2005, the organization published a book about the history and management of cultural heritage in Dutch forests. Now, building on this work, Stichting Probos has developed a practical field guide to cultural heritage for forest managers.

This 2012 guide, Cultural heritage in sustainable forest management - The Dutch perspective, is the outcome of more than six years of research and practical experience on the topic.

It is intended to transfer the enthusiasm, passion and knowledge developed over the last decade in the Netherlands, to forest managers and forest owners in other countries. The guide was published by Stichting Probos with financial support from the 2011 PEFC Collaboration Fund and the Province of Gelderland (the Netherlands).

In the Netherlands, in recent years, cultural heritage has been a focus of attention by forest managers. Today, research is being conducted into the history of many different forest areas with a view to mapping their cultural heritage. Historical forest landscapes or individual historical elements are also being restored in many different places. Stichting Probos has devoted a great deal of energy to highlighting this cultural heritage and transferring knowledge to forest managers and other people who are directly or indirectly involved with forest management in the Netherlands. It is now time to share this knowledge with other countries.

The main target group of the guide includes forest managers and others who are directly or indirectly involved in forest management, including researchers, policy makers, students, and volunteers, among others. In order to make the guide as relevant as possible to forest managers in other countries, it also includes examples from other European countries. Although the focus of the guide is primarily on forests, the information it contains may also prove relevant to research on other natural areas and even the current agricultural landscape.

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Forests area: 258 million ha
Forest owners: > 750,000
Companies (CoC): 15,804

(as of January 2014)
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