Stylization of climate sensitive acidofrequent coniferous forests

Ákos BEDE-FAZEKAS, Imelda SOMODI

(From previous issue No.31)

Stylization, a method of ornamental plant use, is often applied in urban open space and garden design based on an aesthetic consideration. In this article stylization will be contemplated from a different point of view that is novel in Hungary. Stylization of natural or seminatural habitats can sometimes serve as a method for preserving the physiognomy of the plant associations that may be affected by the climate change of the 21st century. According to Schmidt (2003) one can exercise influence on the character of a garden and produce the atmosphere of a certain landscape deliberately by stylizing a plant association found to be typical in that landscape. The method is about evoking the character (volume and space proportions, forms, color dynamics and other characteristics) of an association/habitat/landscape’s vegetation at different locations, at different times, under different climatic conditions, using primarily ornamental plants. Among others, a well-known example of stylization of the character of far landscapes is the Mediterranean garden. There are, however, very few proposals for the stylization of native habitats (poplar-juniper steppe woodlands and downy oak scrub woodlands; Schmidt (2003)). Some of the native habitats’ character has a value that is not surpassed by the often evoked Mediterranean, humid subtropical and Alpine habitats in any way.

Acidofrequent coniferous forest (Photo: Gábor TÍMÁR, Szakonyfalu)

Acidofrequent coniferous forest (Photo: Gábor TÍMÁR, Szakonyfalu)

The vulnerability of the habitats and associations has been examined by the Hungarian researchers only from the botanical point of view but not in terms of its landscape design value. Stylization is not only applicable for the evocation of the character of climate sensitive habitats. The method, in theory, could be used in the case of any native habitat. Stylization has, however, obvious significance in the case of climate sensitive habitats. Then the designer makes an attempt to bequeath a diminishing physiognomy. Stylization is not bound to the original location of the habitat and does not aim at contributing to habitat restoration. Due to the tightness of the available space and the high number and nearness of artificial elements, these plant assemblages are not to be handled as the occurrence of the given association. In addition, for stylization, garden architecture methods are applied instead of restoration techniques usually used in natural  environment. Therefore stylization has only garden and open space design and dendrological significance and does not fit into the methods of nature conservation efforts that attempt to conserve endangered habitats. Although the two approaches differ from each other in terms of both their aims and their methods, stylization can utilize the experience accumulated during the habitat reconstructions and the knowledge of the ecologist society amassed through decades.
The archetypes of stylization for someone searching for particular and novel things are typically the foreign, far landscapes and special associations. In addition to the plants of spatially far landscapes, also the time dimension of some associations might be interesting. For example those that might disappear, at least from Hungary, due to climate change. In that case stylization serves as a method for preserving the character of the habitat as a memento. Therefore we selected the group of acidofrequent coniferous forests that is in all likelihood greatly affected by climate change. We are going to overview the distribution, species composition, climate sensitivity, and the possibilities of stylization of the habitat.

/read the rest of this post in issue No.31/

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