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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 881: II International Conference on Landscape and Urban Horticulture

GREEN TRACES FROM PAST TO FUTURE: THE INTERPLAY OF CULTURE AND ECOLOGICAL PROCESSES IN EUROPEAN HISTORICAL PARKS

Authors:   I. Säumel, I. Kowarik, S. Butenschön
Keywords:   horticultural history, municipal parks, plant use, species introduction, urban biodiversity
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2010.881.156
Abstract:
Historical communal parks are local hotspots of biodiversity within the urban area and crucial elements for liveable cities in our future warmer world, provide a wide range of ecological services and are a part of our common European cultural heritage. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we analysed the effects of horticultural history of urban parks originating from the 19th and early 20th centuries on local floras along a gradient from Central to South Eastern Europe. We focused on principles of park design, historical planting patterns and their impacts on current species distribution. Early results revealed the existence of a transnational network of garden designers at that time. Our results also suggest a trend at the European scale towards a common fashion of planting exotics, as 66% of species on the planting lists were exotics, 59% of the species were planted in two or more parks in Germany and Hungary and similarities in planting lists did not decrease with increasing geographical distance of parks. Thus far, 20% of the exotics planted in the studied parks have become naturalised and established far from the former sites of cultivation. Plantings in urban parks drive biological invasions. Our ongoing project is expected to offer further insights into the interplay of cultural and ecological processes in urban landscapes over decades by quantifying the spread of a large set of cultivated exotics in specific historical parks across Europe. We have evidence that current species composition and distribution patterns – which will strongly influence the future spread of species – can be traced back to historical planting patterns.
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