Palynology: Research equipment | Reference collections | Links | Long-term environmental changes

Current research: Bela krajina

The impact of first, Neolithic farmers on the European landscape was subtle, but local, small-scale activities had significant impact on the landscape. These can be detected in the pollen record of small marshes, located in the vicinity of Neolithic archaeological settlements in Bela krajina region of Slovenia (Andrič 2007). Small-scale forest clearance and burning in the last ca. 6000 years, associated with the appearance of the first agricultural fields, meadows and pastures led to change in forest composition (decline of beech), increased biotic diversity and formation of the diverse, mosaic present-day landscape.

Mlaka marsh lies near the spring of the Lahinja river and in the vicinity of the Neolithic archaeological site Pusti Gradac. The pollen record of such small palaeoecological site is very sensitive to small-scale changes of local vegetation and human impact on the environment in the Neolithic.

The present-day vegetation of Bela krajina significantly differs from the vegetation in the past. During the last ice age, when Bela krajina was not covered by glaciers, woodlands of pine, birch, oak; and surprisingly lime; were growing around the Griblje village (Andrič 2011). About 8000 years before present, much more beech (and in some time periods also fir) was growing in Bela krajina than today. On the basis of palynological data, we can ask ouself a provocative question: How, after thousands of years of human impact on the environment, we know what is the ‘potential natural vegetation’ in the region? What vegetation will grow in Bela krajina in the future, when decreased human impact and climate change are expected?

Bela krajina is well known for its rich natural (wetlands, litter forests) and cultural (archaeological and ethnographic) heritage. To work in a natural park like ‘Krajinski park Lahinja’ is a special privilege and pleasure. By learning about vegetation history we can better understand how and why past, present, and future landsacapes change. We hope that research of long-term environmental processes will continue also in the future and that our knowledge will help to manage the natural and cultural heritage in the region and contribute towards the economic development of Bela krajina.


Andrič, M. in K. J. Willis 2003. The Phytogeographical Regions of Slovenia: a Consequence of Natural Environmental Variation or Prehistoric Human Activity? Journal of Ecology 91: 807-821, 2003

Andrič, M. 2007. The Holocene Vegetation Development in Bela krajina (Slovenia) and the Impact of Fist Farmers on the Landscape, The Holocene 17(6), 2007,763-776

Andrič, M. 2007. Why were the Neolithic landscapes of Bela krajina and Ljubljana Marshes regions of Slovenia so dissimilar? Documenta Praehistorica 34: 177-189.

Andrič, M. 2008. Pelod razkriva preteklost Bele krajine, Proteus 70 (9/10), maj-jun. 2008, 413-420.

Mason, P. in M. Andrič 2009. Neolithic/Eneolithic settlement patterns and Holocene environmental changes in Bela krajina (South-Eastern Slovenia). Documenta Praehistorica 36: 327-335.

Andrič, M. 2011. Poznoglacialna vegetacija v okolici Blejskega jezera in Gribelj (Bela krajina): primerjava v zadnjem stadialu poledenele in nepoledenele pokrajine = Lateglacial vegetation at Lake Bled and Griblje Marsh (Slovenia): a comparison of (in last glacial maximum) glaciated and non-glaciated landscapes. Strani 235-249 v: Toškan B. (ur.). Drobci ledenodobnega okolja : zbornik ob življenjskem jubileju Ivana Turka : proceedings in honour of Ivan Turk's jubilee, Opera Instituti Archaeologici Sloveniae, 21. Ljubljana.

Šilc, U. in M. Andrič 2012 (v tisku). Dolgoročen vpliv človeka na biotsko raznovrstnost: Primerjava fitocenoloških in palinoloških rezultatov (Bela krajina), v: Andrič M. (ur.). Dolgoročne spremembe okolja, Opera Instituti Archaeologici Sloveniae 25, Ljubljana.

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