3. Las - Ekosystem, użytkowanie, przebudowa lasu
FOREST – COMMUNITY. USE, FOREST CONVERSION
The place where we are is a forest. This is evidenced by the entry in the land register and what we see around: relatively densely growing trees, several decades old, whose crowns are in contact, creating specific conditions for the life of other plants and animals. According to the Act on Forests (1991), a forest is: "A plot of land with a compact area of at least 0.10 ha, covered with forest vegetation", which is dominated by trees growing in close proximity, constituting a living environment for many populations (groups) of plants and animals mutually interacting with each other. The description of the forest includes, among others, the following parameters: species composition, age structure, density. The forest is formed naturally or as a result of human activities.
HOW DID THE FOREST SURROUNDING US WAS FORMED?
Centuries ago, a natural Carpathian primeval forest probably grew here, a beautiful, rich forest in which the laws of nature determined the succession of generations, species diversity, and animal wealth. At first, it attracted people. When they moved to a sedentary lifestyle, it was replaced by pastures and arable fields. Even at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the surrounding slopes of the hills were covered with pastures, meadows, and fields. During World War I, the forestless spaces provided good visibility and allowed for effective artillery fire from positions whose traces are still visible here today. The twentieth century changed the way of thinking and managing. The forest entered spontaneously into the pastures and unmowed meadows. Landowners began to support this process with afforestation and proper forest management.
We are surrounded by a birch and pine forest with an admixture of spruce and oak. In the understorey stratum, an important role is played by hornbeam, sycamore, ingrowth of trees from the canopy level, and various species of shrubs. The age of the trees, species composition, and density indicate that this stand was created in a way similar to natural. As a result of significant exploitation of the forest until the mid-20th century, it was severely thinned out. The access to sunlight was used by the birch, which, by sowing naturally, obtained good conditions for development and is currently the dominant species in this part of the forest. Together with the pine, it constitutes the upper layer of the stand and creates conditions for the forest environment, allowing the gradual formation of a stand composed of suitable species for habitat.
The forest manager with the support of foresters has the tools to manage and accelerate natural processes. Planting young seedlings, called forest renewal, maintenance cuts in young stands, called cleanings, maintenance cuts in older stands (over 20 years old), called thinnings, all this leads to the fact that the stand, after reaching the harvesting age, will yield a valuable raw material, which is wood.
THE ROLE OF THE FOREST IN THE ENVIRONMENT
Due to its complexity, the forest is an extremely valuable element of the environment. It performs very important protective functions. It shapes the local climate, binds carbon dioxide, produces oxygen, regulates the circulation of water in nature, slows down surface water runoff in the mountains, protects the soil from erosion, diversifies the landscape, and is a complex biocenosis of exceptional natural value, home to many valuable species of plants and animals. The forest also plays a unique social function, shaping favorable health and recreational conditions for human society. As part of its economic functions, the forest provides wood and other forest products, including hunting grounds. It also provides jobs in the field and the development of an economy based on the use of wood.
The interior of the visited forest. Felling of the fir.