The Central European Forest – a secret place whose inhabitants live clandestine lives.
How do innumerable organisms, large and small, live together? Are our forests truly natural
or the result of man’s intervention? Do they have anything in common with untouched
The denser the forest, the darker it becomes down on the ground. Only a few animals and plants have adapted to this lack of sunlight. Yet our forests were not always like this. Before man began to redesign earth as he saw fit, woods were more open, like parks. There was plenty of light throughout the year. The landscape architects in those days were large herds of herbivores. It was their phenomenal appetite that had much to do with shaping forests. But over the last 30,000 years, man has eradicated almost all larger mammals. Several members of the elephant family, bison, wild horses, rhinoceros and giant deer disappeared. On the plains of Central Europe, it would otherwise be much like the Serengeti in Africa.
The uncultivated forests, where herbivores roam freely, are a thing of the past. Yet experiments in conservation areas show that many larger mammals can still coexist with man and one fact that is finally being acknowledged is that a truly natural wood needs a play of forces that ensure that light and warmth are allowed to penetrate.
Only then will the habitat become as rich in life as it once was.