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ALTER-Net: A Long-Term Biodiversity, Ecosystem and Awareness Research Network

Europe’s ecosystem research network


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Environmental history project

When studying present environmental conditions in a location, knowledge of past conditions is necessary to understand how the place has changed. Equally, an historical perspective is helpful when predicting how the environment at a location may change in the future, given certain scenarios. For well-studied sites there may be long-term time series of data available, but such sites are relatively few in number (such as Long-Term Ecosystem Research - LTER - sites), and the range of data available may be limited. Outside of these areas, we must draw on other sources of information. Indeed, historical information is useful even within well-studied research sites. By comparing information that is widely separated in time it is often possible to learn much about change (or lack of change), even when only two time points are compared. This ALTER-Net initiative supported three small projects that each used new and historical data to examine changes in different parts of Europe:

Env History P1 booklet coverChanges in landscape diversity, landscape connectivity and hydrogenic ecosystems state in the ’West Polesie’ Biosphere Reserve over the last half century

Team leader: Professor Tadeusz J. Chmielewski, University of Lublin, Poland
Study location: West Polesie, Poland



More on subproject P1...



Env History P2 journal coverImpact on landscapes under the pressure to produce resources for war

Team leader: Verena Winiwarter, Institute of Social Ecology, Austria
Study location: Austria & Hungary (effectively the region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire)


  • Güldner, D., Krausmann, F., Winiwarter, V., 2014. From farm to gun and no way back: Habsburg gunpowder production in the eighteenth century and its impact on agriculture and soil fertility. Reg Environ Change 1–12. doi:10.1007/s10113-014-0737-2


More on subproject P2...



Env History P3 report front pageDrivers of long term biodiversity change in a range of Scottish habitats

Team leader: Alison Hester, James Hutton Institute, UK
Study location: Multiple sites across Scotland



More on subproject P3...



For more information on the ALTER-Net Environmental History, please contact:

Dr Andrew Sier
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Tel: +44(0)1524 595800
Send email