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  MTA Science Festival - Thursday, 27 November, 2008 17:30 p.m.

Of Trees and Men: Ancient Woodland Management in Central Europe

Faculty Tower, Room #409


Peter Szabo

Institute of Botany, Czech Academy of Sciences, Department of Ecology, Brno

In Central Europe, people have been managing woodlands for thousands of years in order to produce the kind of wood they needed for heating and building. While they knew or cared little about nature conservation as we understand it today, the habitats created by long-term intensive woodland management are biologically and historically among the most valuable. Through the analysis of written sources as well as landscape archaeological evidence, this presentation will look at what people did in woods from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages, and how these woods look today. Certain practical aspects will also be pointed out: as fossil fuels steadily increase in price, such sustainable fuel-production methods may become fashionable again.

Péter Szabó is an historical ecologist. He received his PhD (2003) in Medieval Studies at the Central European University in Budapest. Since 2008, he has been working at the Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences on a project about Czech ancient woodland. He specialises in Hungarian and Central European woodland and landscape history from the beginning of the Holocene until the nineteenth century. His own research is based on the examination of written sources (from the Middle Ages onwards) as well as on landscape archaeological fieldwork. His publications include the monograph Woodland and Forests in Medieval Hungary (Oxford, Archaeopress, 2005) and the edition (with József Laszlovszky) of People and Nature in Historical Perspective (CEU Medieval Studies and Archaeolingua, 2003), a collection of essays on the environmental history of Central and Eastern Europe.

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