JEG 2011

Jaarboek voor Ecologische Geschiedenis



Piet van Cruyningen (Guest editor)

Bossen in de Lage Landen



Piet van Cruyningen



Jim van Laar

Historie van bos, bosgebruik en bosbeheer in Nederland: recente thema’s en uitdagingen, een overzicht


This article presents an overview of some major results of forest history research in the Netherlands in the past decades. It shows that mainly individual studies have been executed until the 1970s. A nationwide investigation on historic forest management, initiated by the State Forest Service and Wageningen University, started around 1980, but the project faded away in the mid 1990’s due to lack of funds and decreasing interest. Also a number of research methodologies are discussed. Interdisciplinarity has increased since then. For instance, historic geographical approaches and dendrochronological research have contributed to new insights in forest history. The last decade has shown a greater societal interest in historical issues in general, which also counts for history related to forests. A research model, containing a retrospective environmental analysis, has been introduced in order to select time spans for detailed investigation. Some research challenges for the near future have been identified, that might possibly result in a comprehensive Forest History of the Netherlands till present times.


Bart Nyssen

De Amerikaanse vogelkers (Prunus serotina) als bosboom. Speuren naar vergeten en verzwegen bosgeschiedenis


The introduction of black cherry (Prunus serotina) in northwest Europe has been driven in three main periods from different social needs. From 1623 the emphasis was on the aesthetic value. Late nineteenth century, the growing need for wood started dominating. From the first world war on intensive use by reforestation started. In each of these periods the tree species met the expectations. With the completion of reforestation, it lost its social utility and, nicknamed ‘forest pest’, eradication campaigns started. It seems that this narrow focus lengthy blocked research into the species and that objective assessments of its properties are still difficult to find.


K.A.H.W. Leenders

Middeleeuwse bossen in Brabant


In this mostly sandy region in the middle of the Low Countries the well populated Roman period was followed by a nearly complete depopulation. The landscape could recover during two to six centuries. On the basis of place name studies it is shown that at the reoccupation of the region the new settlers found a quite woody landscape. The farmers used the woods for fodder, manure, wood and timber. In doing so, they exerted pressure on the woods that rose as their hamlets grew. Around 1300 most woodland transformed to heath lands and from 1400 drift sands appeared. This article explores the relation between these developments, changes in settlement pattern and the creations of hedges around fields.


Sara Adriaenssens en Kris Verheyen

Een unieke kijk op bosecologie en bosbeheer in de 18de eeuw. Het plantageboek van Zoerselbos


This contribution highlights so-called plantation books (Dutch: plantageboeken) as a written source for historical ecology. As an example we use the plantation book of Zoerselbos, an ancient woodland (~ 380 ha) in the Campine region (northern Belgium), managed for 563 years by Cistercianmonks of the St. Bernard Abbey (1233 A.D. – 1796 A.D.). The plantation book is a note book in which all management activities were recorded on a yearly basis. The Zoerselbos book covers a continuous period from 1725 A.D. until 1796 A.D. It includes information on management interventions, with further quantitative details about the timing, measures, areas and prices. This unique collection of data provides new insights for forest ecology and forest management in the 18th century Campine region.


Klaas Bouwer

Nieuwe wegen in het bos. Verbeteringen in de Gelderse bosbouw in de achttiende eeuw


In the field of forestry and forest management some important innovations were introduced in the province of Gelderland in the 18th century. Until then traditions and experience had dominated the field. The main changes in management were a more effective administrative system, keeping a check on theft of fuel wood and trees and on illegal grazing in woods under 5 years old. In addition to this, the parcellation of the (mainly coppice) woods was adjusted and they were made more accessible by new roads. These modernizations were implemented in private rural estates from about 1730 and some decades later in the provincial forests. To explain this development four important factors can be mentioned. First, the aspect of knowledge: as an outcome of the 17th century enlightenment in Germany the first studies in forestry were published in the beginning of the next century. The educated class of administrators in Gelderland –who were also estate owners – studied these new insights. Secondly, societal relations played a role. Many German stewards and foresters worked on properties in Gelderland, and the privileged owners within their circle discussed forestry problems and exchanged seeds and seedlings. In the third place, the geographical factor: the old ducal provincial domain of the Nederrijkswald in particular is situated near the German border. Finally, the economic factor should not be underestimated. The markets for fuel wood and oak tannin in comparison with peat, and at the end of the 18th century the developing export of pine wood (Pinus Sylvestris) for the coal pits in Germany all played a role.


Jan H. de Rijk

De geschiedenis van de Hoog Soerense malebossen en het probleem van gemeenschappelijk bosbezit


For centuries, most forests in the Veluwe area were communal forests. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century the communal property of forests was seen as a problem. In 1766 and 1767 the communal forests Hoog Soerense bos and Hoog Soerense heege were bought by the prince of Orange. The history of these forests makes it possible to find out whether communal property was a problem or not. Regulations on the use of these forests date back to 1500. The organisation and the forest management were similar to other communal forests in the Veluwe area. After the purchase of these forests, the investments in new plantings were increased, especially in deep tillage before planting as well as in the maintenance of the forests. These huge costs made the forest less profitable than the communal forests. As a private property, there were new threats. In general, private property was not more efficient than communal property. To escape a law of 1886 on the partition of the commons, the rest of the communal forests transformed themselves in limited liability companies.