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Home arrow Environment arrow Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World

Europe

Europe consists of 50 countries and is just over 10 million km2 in land area. Forests cover approximately 45 % of the land area, most of which is found within the Russian Federation which comprises 40 % of the land area of Europe (FAO 2012). Europe's native forest is very diverse with 13 broad categories encompassing 74 types (EEA 2006). Boreal forest consisting primarily of spruce or pine species dominates in northerly latitudes that comprise Scandinavia (Fig. 5.3). This is replaced by hemiboreal forest and nemoral coniferous and mixed broadleaved/coniferous forest in southern Sweden and much of eastern central Europe, with alpine coniferous forest along the mountain ranges. Moving west, mesophytic deciduous and beech forest dominates, but there is increasing amounts of plantation forest. In the southern parts of Europe coniferous (pines, firs, junipers, cypress, cedar), broadleaved (oak, chestnut) and evergreen broadleaved forests are the main wooded habitats. Parts of Europe have undergone extensive deforestation and cover has been fragmented and depleted for several centuries. While 26 % of Europe's forest area is classified as primary, this falls to <3 % excluding the Russian Federation, and approximately 52 % of all forests in Europe are now designated primarily for production (FAO 2012). In Europe, as in North America and Australia, there is growing interest in silvicultural practices that mimic natural forest ecosystem processes with the aim of developing mixed, structurally diverse stands (Lähde et al. 1999). This is a result of a move away from treating forests, particularly plantations, solely as a resource for timber, and an increased emphasis on sustainable management for multiple objectives including biodiversity conservation and recreation (Mason and Quine 1995). In practice, this has meant a

Fig. 5.3 a New Forest, United Kingdom: wood pasture, a historical European land management system providing shelter and forage for grazing animals as well as timber products, b doubleleadered Corsican pines (Pinus nigra ssp. laricio) are used as roost sites by Natterer's bats (M. nattereri) in Tentsmuir forest in Scotland, UK; c wooded landscape, including olive groves, used extensively in southern Italy by Rhinolophus euryale; d typical Bechstein's bat (Myotis bechsteinii) foraging habitat in England, UK: a mixture of oak (Quercus robur) and hazel (Corylus avellana) woodland. Photograph credits J Sjolund, G Mortimer (b), D Russo (c), F Greenaway (d)

reduction in clear felling, although this varies greatly between countries. For example, it has been largely phased out in Switzerland and Slovenia, but is still the primary form of logging in the UK (Fries et al. 1997; Mason et al. 1999), but recent modifications include retaining stands with longer rotations where possible (Mason and Quine 1995), reducing the removal of deadwood (Humphrey and Bailey 2012), and techniques geared to mimic natural disturbance such as prescribed burning.

 
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