Informations and abstract
Keywords: Old-Growth forests, Eastern Carpathians, historical ecology, biocultural diversity conservation.
Over the last three decades, worldwide forests have become increasingly the focus of societal and scientific interest. The critical ecosystem services they provide are considered as key elements to mitigate harmful effects of global changes. Most of recent studies highlighted the highest effectiveness of the so-called «primary», «natural» and «old-growth forests» in this struggle due to their specific features (biodiversity and carbon storage capacity). However, in Europe, these forests which represent less than 1% of total forest cover are threatened by unsustainable human activity. Mainly based on pure ecological investigations, most of recent studies have rarely integrated human dimensions so far. Several outstanding issues remain to be addressed about the real nature of the «remaining natural European forests». Tackling this issue is crucial to know which forest must be conserved and how. In order to improve (i) knowledge about and (ii) conservation and /or sustainable management of such forests, we carried out an integrative and innovative research combining natural, social and human science approaches on a recently classified UNESCO primary beech forest located in the Maramureş county (Eastern Carpathians, Romania). First results highlighted that far from being untouched, this current high-value forest results from a long-term co-evolution with local communities. It implies a deeper understanding of the complex interaction between ecological and anthropogenic legacies is mandatory to improve and grant the preservation and sustainability of old-growth forests.