Why are trees not part of evolution?
History of the forest
How long has the forest existed?
Around 400 million years ago, the first simple land plants developed from the aquatic plants. But only before around The first trees appeared 300 million years ago. In the Carboniferous - the coal age - the well-known huge forests with the club moss, fern and horsetail trees grew in a favorable, humid and tropical climate.
As the name "coal age" already suggests, this was the time when the free carbon dioxide that occurred was stored in plants, the conversion and end products of which we now burn and release again.
After the decline of the bear moss, fern and horsetail trees due to the drier climate Our conifers 270 million years ago. The conifers then dominated the landscape for over 200 million years. During this time, a tree species developed that has survived as a geological relic to this day: the ginkgo. The ginkgo tree is a transition species between the coniferous and deciduous tree species.
The deciduous trees finally developed around 100 million years ago and became the predominant forest. Then the climate in the northern hemisphere began to cool significantly about a million years ago. The ice ages came! From 600,000 to 12,000 BC Four ice ages alternated with warmer periods in between.
After the retreat of the major inland glaciations and the increase in temperature, the vegetation recaptured the areas. However, many plant species were extinct or a return migration was made difficult by the high Alpine bar. The result was a much poorer flora than before the Ice Age. So-called pioneer tree species such as birch and pine first migrated into the tundra-like flora. Then hazel and oak came as the temperature increased.
Of 5,500 to 2,500 BC The mixed forests expanded made of oak, linden, elm and ash. The somewhat cooler and more humid climate that followed resulted in the oaks retreating to the plains, while the beeches would be the most widespread trees today without human intervention.
Representation of the so-called plague use in the Black Forest. The top floor served as litter in the stable.
Previous uses and pressures on the forest
Human influence on the forest ecosystem has increased since the Middle Ages. Of the medieval clearing the fertile deciduous forest soils were particularly affected, so that even then the proportion of coniferous forest increased. Until the end of the last century, wood was mainly used for heating, cooking and building. Before the 14th century, no other building material was known in central and northern Germany. Shipbuilding also required large quantities of wood.
From the 16th to the 19th century, "Dutch firs" were rafted from the Black Forest on the Rhine to Holland for the large colonial and merchant fleets, so that the Shipbuilding contributed greatly to the decline of forests. In addition, large quantities of wood were required in the Middle Ages mining, glassworks and salt pans for melting and boiling.
The The forest served farmers as grazing land for the livestock and after the introduction of stable keeping, leaves and needles were also used as litter in the stable. The use of litter was one of the most damaging interventions in the forest and contributed significantly to the impoverishment of the forests and their soils. It was only discontinued in the 20th century.
The condition of the forest at the beginning of the 19th century can be described as follows:
• There were huge bare areas due to centuries of use
• Large areas showed nutrient poverty due to the devastating use of litter
• There was no regeneration through high game populations
• Only undemanding vegetation could still develop; Deciduous trees didn't stand a chance
The forest, which was already weakened as a result, could cope with the pressure of the rapidly growing population with their demands no longer withstand.
But only when a wood shortage threatened at the beginning of the 19th century, one woke up and developed modern forestry and forest managementwhich still looks after the forest ecosystem with expert use and in compliance with the ecological framework. The concept of sustainability (Removal = offspring) became the basic principle of action.
today the forest's existence is threatened by other factors. The emissions from our industrial society have been severely affecting the forest since the beginning of the 1980s. The increasing urban sprawl does not stop at the forest either.
About the novel forest damage and their current figures can be found here: Forest damage from air pollution
The forest is currently struggling with the higher temperatures and the lack of precipitation due to the Climate change. Storms, forest fires and bark beetles have also caused severe damage to the forests. over 245,000 hectares of forest have been destroyed and have to be replanted. (March 2020)
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