Historic charcoal production in Brandenburg - analysis of the spatial dimension and the impacts on soil hydraulic properties

Historic charcoal kiln sites are characterized by anthropogenic small scale relief-features and substrates, and are valuable archives of land use history. In addition, these legacies of historic charcoal production affect current soils and ecosystems. Despite the numerous studies on historic kiln sites in Central Europe, central questions regarding the relevance of charcoal production as a part of forest use history and its effects on soil properties are still unsolved. Mapping and analysis of kiln site distribution for continuous areas was hardly attempted, and the characterization of effects on soils and ecosystems is therefore mainly limited to single sites. These knowledge gaps are particularly evident in the Northern European Lowland, where studies on the spatial dimension of historic charcoal production are still sparse. Previous work, mainly the detailed studies in the probably largest archaeologically excavated historic charcoal kiln field in forefield of the open cast mine Jänschwalde (north of Cottbus, Germany) indicates a considerable underestimation of the relevance of historic charcoal production as a part of the land use system, of the number of charcoal production areas and kiln sites, and therefore also of the relevance of their effects on soil on a landscape scale, especially for this region. The project therefore aims at describing and assessing the spatial dimensions of historic charcoal production and relevant effects on soil hydraulic properties for the area of the state of Brandenburg, as a part of the Northern European Lowland. GISbased analyses and pedological field methods will be combined to achieve this aim. The constituent parts of the project are 1) the identification of charcoal production areas with a GIS-based model based on historic and recent information on landscape and land use structures; 2) the automated and areal mapping of kiln site positions and diameters within these areas based on high-resolution digital elevation models and the analysis of their spatial distribution in relation to natural and cultural landscape structures; 3) the characterization of soil hydraulic parameters of kiln sites using infiltration experiments and soil water regime monitoring; and 4) an assessment of the relevance of effects on soil water regimes at the landscape scale using a GIS-based integration of mapping and pedological results.

Period11/2016 - 10/2019
ApplicantDr. A. Schneider