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Title: Where are Europe’s last primary forests?
Authors: Sabatini, Francesco Maria
Burrascano, Sabina
Keeton, William S.
Levers, Christian
Lindner, Marcus
Pötzschner, Florian
Verkerk, Pieter Johannes
Bauhus, Jürgen
Buchwald, Erik
Chaskovsky, Oleh
Debaive, Nicolas
Horváth, Ferenc
Garbarino, Matteo
Grigoriadis, Nikolaos
Lombardi, Fabio
Marques Duarte, Inês
Meyer, Peter
Midteng, Rein
Mikac, Stjepan
Mikoláš, Martin
Motta, Renzo
Mozgeris, Gintautas
Nunes, Leónia
Panayotov, Momchil
Ódor, Peter
Ruete, Alejandro
Simovski, Bojan 
Stillhard, Jonas
Svoboda, Miroslav
Szwagrzyk, Jerzy
Tikkanen, Olli-Pekka
Volosyanchuk, Roman
Vrska, Tomas
Zlatanov, Tzvetan
Kuemmerle, Tobias
Issue Date: 24-May-2018
Publisher: Wiley
Source: Sabatini FM, Burrascano S, Keeton WS, et al. Where are Europe’s last primary forests? Divers Distrib. 2018;24:1426–1439.
Project: FORESTS & CO
Journal: Diversity and Distributions
Abstract: Aim: Primary forests have high conservation value but are rare in Europe due to historic land use. Yet many primary forest patches remain unmapped, and it is unclear to what extent they are effectively protected. Our aim was to (1) compile the most comprehensive European‐scale map of currently known primary forests, (2) analyse the spatial determinants characterizing their location and (3) locate areas where so far unmapped primary forests likely occur. Location: Europe. Methods: We aggregated data from a literature review, online questionnaires and 32 datasets of primary forests. We used boosted regression trees to explore which biophysical, socio‐economic and forest‐related variables explain the current distribution of primary forests. Finally, we predicted and mapped the relative likelihood of primary forest occurrence at a 1‐km resolution across Europe. Results: Data on primary forests were frequently incomplete or inconsistent among countries. Known primary forests covered 1.4 Mha in 32 countries (0.7% of Europe’s forest area). Most of these forests were protected (89%), but only 46% of them strictly. Primary forests mostly occurred in mountain and boreal areas and were unevenly distributed across countries, biogeographical regions and forest types. Unmapped primary forests likely occur in the least accessible and populated areas, where forests cover a greater share of land, but wood demand historically has been low. Main conclusions: Despite their outstanding conservation value, primary forests are rare and their current distribution is the result of centuries of land use and forest management. The conservation outlook for primary forests is uncertain as many are not strictly protected and most are small and fragmented, making them prone to extinction debt and human disturbance. Predicting where unmapped primary forests likely occur could guide conservation efforts, especially in Eastern Europe where large areas of primary forest still exist but are being lost at an alarming pace.
Description: DATA ACCESSIBILITY: The data on primary forests here presented were collected within the F&CO‐NET initiative and remain property of the institutions, organizations or person who created or collected them. The custodian of each dataset, that is person who owns or represents the contributed data, is listed in Supporting Information Table S3. F&CO‐NET is available on request for disclosing data to individuals or groups of individuals for research or application purposes. Requests will be considered by the F&CO‐NET coordinators (F.M. Sabatini, T. Kuemmerle) and data released after receiving the approval from the respective custodians. All derived data are available upon request from the corresponding author. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: FORESTS & CO was funded by the European Union under the Marie Sklodowska- Curie Grant Agreement No. 658876. M. Mikoláš and M. Svoboda were supported by the Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague (CIGA No. 20184304) and by the institutional project MSMT CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000803. Additional funding sources for individual datasets are in Supporting Information Appendix S3. We thank A. Dušan, H. Kirchmeir, A. Kraut, R. Pisek, O. Schwendtner, J. Vysoky, D. Vallauri and the staff of WWF Romania, especially C. Bucur and R. Melu, for providing valuable data and suggestions. We also thank S. Varis and S. Zudin for technical support. This work would not have been possible without all those who responded to the questionnaires and those who collected all the data presented here.
DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12778
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Forestry: Journal Articles

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