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Into the woods

Overlapping perspectives on the history of “ancient forests”

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Published on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 by João Fernandes

Summary

In ecological, economic and social terms, “ancient forests” play numerous roles. Their definition varies not only from country to country but also according to disciplinary fields. Studying “ancient forests” can involve separating “old-growth forests” from “ancient woodland”, forests that have disappeared and, in the case of “current forests”, those that are not actually very old at all! This conference aims to exchange views and ideas on “ancient forests” including both retrospective and prospective issues. Better understanding their past highlights the key issues of their status, protection and promotion in our current societies and opens up new perspectives about the future of « ancient forests ». Foresters, planners, developers, ecologists, biologists, agriculturalists, geographers, historians, philosophers, ethnologists, cartographers, archaeologists, archaeobotanists, sociologists etc., from all backgrounds, are invited to join this debate about our various and varying concepts of “ancient forests”.

Announcement

Padova (Italy) 18-20 April 2017

Presentation

In recent years the number of actions and projects involving “ancient forests” or “ancient woodland” has greatly increased. (French National Forestry Office exceptional forests scheme, WWF program for ancient forests, International Day of Forests, etc.). In ecological, economic and social terms, these forest spaces play numerous, diverse roles.

The definition of  “ancient forests” varies not only from country to country but also according to disciplinary field. Working on “ancient forests” can involve separating “old-growth forests” from “ancient woodland”, forests that have disappeared and, in the case of  “current forests”, those that are not actually very old! “Ancient woodland” or “old growth forests” are often considered as “current forests” of a certain age, but the appreciation of this antiquity depends on time based thresholds that in turn depend on, amongst other things, the sources available to help reconstruct their history.

Even though the concept of “ancient forests” is evolving, the origins of a forest’s antiquity must be addressed. If forests have survived until now, a number of social and economic functions must justify their existence. Coupled with notions of natural refuges and forest biodiversity, these forests are also considered as living archives and witnesses of centuries gone by, as places where heritage and memories accumulate. Both private and publicly owned, these forests are at the crossroads of various, sometimes conflicting, points of view. Their management must not only respond to the great challenges of today’s world, (mitigating climate change, reducing the loss of biodiversity) but also involve efforts to revitalise local economies and improve the quality of life.

Today, as in the past, they offer insights into the changing relationships between society and environment and for this reason are of particular scientific interest. Integrated inter/multidisciplinary approaches that bring together historical knowledge (economic and social uses of the forest) and naturalistic approaches (study of forest ecosystems) now offer a new means of tackling the question of “ancient forests”

However while the various methods and tools implemented ensure a better understanding of past forest spaces, disciplinary and regional compartmentalisation limits a global, integrated approach. To be at the crossroads of human sciences and natural sciences is vital in order to understand the factors leading to the differentiation of historical wooded areas.

The aim of this conference is to allow specialists and researchers from various cultures and different professional fields to meet and exchange views about the study of ancient forests. Foresters, planners, developers, ecologists, biologists, agriculturalists, geographers, historians, philosophers, ethnologists, cartographers, archaeologists, archaeobotanists, sociologists etc., from all backgrounds, are invited to join this debate about our  various and varying concept of “ancient forests”.

Topics

Maturity, heritage, age and antiquity: how can "ancient forests" be defined? How do we identify a forest as ancient?

By its age, its functions or its biodiversity? Numerous projects currently underway in this field reveal a great diversity of points of view and the existence of various schools of thought.  These perceptions are narrowly linked to disciplinary fields as well as to specific national environments. The various terms used to describe ancient forests do not all refer to the same concepts, or the same historical circumstances. Furthermore, these concepts were born from very specific contexts and are thus indications of the way we think about relationships between society and environment. The idea of this theme is to present different viewpoints in their cultural and disciplinary contexts and to initiate a collective critical reflection about this emerging study subject.

How to tackle the subject of forest age in a global manner? What are the latest methodological and scientific developments?

Only by using a range of different approaches is it possible to probe the historical depths of forest areas and to understand the uses that have shaped them.  Looking into their history in a comprehensive manner requires a combination of approaches: historical, archaeological, ethnographical and paleoecological etc. Presentations of case studies will highlight a variety of opportunities for combined approaches and allow the added scientific value of such studies to be appreciated, with a view to gaining a better overall understanding of forests’ history.

“ Ancient forests” yes but how to move forward?

Given the overlapping challenges of environmental, economic and social issues, how can a better understanding of the history of forest areas contributes to improvements in their management? This last theme will focus on concrete examples of project management and exploitation of “ancient” forest areas, where historical knowledge has led to new solutions for their development and management. The intention is to reflect on the heuristic scope of a comprehensive approach to the history of the forests.

Field trip

A field trip will be organised in the Parco Regionale dei Colli Euganei, in collaboration with the park management team. It will be held in the areas studied by Sandrine Paradis-Grenouillet and Sylvain Burri as part of the Marie Curie THISTLE research project and the European FP7 MEMOLA Project. It will confront the concepts and teachings of the conference with the reality of a complex landscape shaped by centuries of ebb and flow and co-evolution between forest cover and agro-forestry-pastoral exploitation by mountain communities, the town of Padua and the Venetian Arsenal. 

Important information

Abstract and submission: Abstract for oral or poster communication should be submitted

before the 20 December 2016

at meeting.ancientforests@gmail.com The text of the abstract must be under 2500 characters. The authors will be informed by email before 15 january 2017 if their submission has been accepted by the scientic committee

Organizing Commitee

  • Chantal ASPE – Senior Lecturer (environmental sociology), LPED UMR 151 IRD, University of Aix-Marseille (France)
  • Sylvain BURRI – Research officer CNRS (history and archaeology), LA3M, UMR 7298 – University of Aix-Marseille (France)
  • Sandrine PARADIS-GRENOUILLET – Postdoctoral researcher Marie-Curie (historical geography and archaeobotany) - Dipartimento dei beni culturali, archeologia, storia dell'arte, del cinema e della musica. University of Padova (Italie)
  • Romain ROUAUD – Postdoctoral researcher (geography), GEOLAB, UMR 6042 CNRS, University of Limoges (France)

Scientific committee

  • Paul Arnould – Professor (geography), EVS, UMR 5600 CNRS, University of Lyon (France)
  • Jérôme Buridant – Lecturer (geography), Edysan, University of Picardie (France)
  • Gian Pietro Brogiolo – Professor (archaeology), Dipartimento dei beni culturali, archeologia, storia dell'arte, del cinema e della musica. University of Padova (Italy)
  • Alexandra Chavarria -Professoressa (archaeology), Dipartimento dei beni culturali, archeologia, storia dell'arte, del cinema e della musica. University of Padova (Italy)
  • Alan Crivellaro - Assistant professor (wood technology), Tesaf, University of Padoue (Italy)
  • Jean-Luc Dupouey -  Research director (forest ecology), EEF, UMR INRA - UL 1137, University of Lorrain (France)
  • Frédéric Guibal – Research officer (palaeoecology), IMBE, UMR 7263 CNRS, University of Aix-Marseille (France)
  • Thierry Kervyn – Scientific attached (forest ecology and forest management), Service Public de Wallonie, Département d'étude du milieu naturel et agricole (Belgium)
  • Keith Kirby - Visiting Researcher (forest ecology), Department of Plant Sciences. University of Oxford (United Kingdon)
  • Emanuele Lingua – Assistant professor (forest ecology), Tesaf, University of Padoue (Italy)
  • Diego Moreno – Professor (geography), Dipartimento di Antichità, Filosofia e Storia (DAFIST),  Laboratorio di Archeologia e storia ambientale; University of Genova (Italy)
  • Nicoletta Martinelli – Doctor of Philisophy (dendrochronology),  Laboratorio Dendrodata, Verona. (Italy)
  • Oliver Nelle – Lecturer (archaeobotany),  Dendrochronologisches Labor, Landesamtfür Denkmalpflege, University of Stuttgart (Germany)
  • Cristiano Nicosia – Researcher (geoarchaeology) CreA-Patrimoine, University of Bruxelles (Belgium)
  • Xavier Rochel - Lecturer (geography) Loterr , University of Lorraine (France)

Places

  • Padua, Italian Republic (35139)

Date(s)

  • Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Keywords

  • ancient forests, woodlands, ecology, forest history, forest management

Contact(s)

  • Sandrine Paradis-Grenouillet
    courriel : paradis [dot] sandrine [at] unipd [dot] it

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Sandrine Paradis-Grenouillet
    courriel : paradis [dot] sandrine [at] unipd [dot] it

To cite this announcement

« Into the woods », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, September 13, 2016, https://calenda.org/377156

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