Peat bog and alluvial deposits reveal land degradation during 16th and 17th century colonisation of the western Carpathians (Czech Republic)

Kapustová, V, Pánek, T, Hradecký, J, Zernitskaya, V, Hutchinson, SM ORCID:, Mulková, M, Sedláče, J and Bajer, V 2018, 'Peat bog and alluvial deposits reveal land degradation during 16th and 17th century colonisation of the western Carpathians (Czech Republic)' , Land Degradation & Development, 29 (4) , pp. 894-906.

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Wallachian (shepherd) colonisation of the upper parts of Carpathians, the second largest mountain range in Europe, provides a unique opportunity to study human-induced ecological changes and subsequent sediment mobilisation within slope and fluvial systems. The Wallachians came to the nearly pristine landscape in the Czech part of the Western Carpathians during the 16–17th Century bringing large scale deforestation and grazing to the upper parts of its ridges. Despite the importance of this event, there is a lack of high-resolution multi-proxy reconstructions to help to decipher the relative influence of anthropogenic and climate factors on this landscape. Here we provide a ca. 2.1 kyr record obtained from a peat bog where, using chronological, sedimentological and pollen analyses, we were able to differentiate between environmental conditions before, during and after colonisation. Prior to colonisation, climate deterioration following the onset of Little Ice Age caused changes in forest composition and erosion events (causing a ~AD 0–1500 gap in the record). Abrupt human-induced deforestation detected in the pollen record, together with the abundant fine-grained minerogenic content of peat deposits between AD ~1640 and AD 1870, correspond to increased runoff and sheet erosion on slopes; enhanced by Little Ice Age climate deterioration. The sedimentary record in alluvial deposits downstream indicates that the colonisation of the mountain slopes in this region not only had a local effect on soil degradation, but it also increased the net aggradation of overbank deposits within valley floors. After reforestation, net aggradation was replaced by river incision into alluvia.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the article, which will be published in final form at 10.1002/ldr.2909. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences > Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Land Degradation & Development
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1099-145X
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Dr Simon M. Hutchinson
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2018 14:01
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 18:37

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