Conference venue, accommodation and arrival


List of Abstracts

Organisation & Contact

Some useful links


Conference background and aims

Bohemian Switzerland National Park


Registration and payment

Registration form

Lectures, posters and abstracts

First circular
for print

Second circular for print


Sandstone Landscapes: Diversity, Ecology and Conservation

14 - 20 September, 2002
Doubice in Saxonian-Bohemian Switzerland, Czech Republic


Background and aims of the conference

There are many sandstone regions scattered over Europe. They host specific flora and fauna; they support landscapes where dynamic geomorphological processes occur at rates unseen in landscapes that surround them. The pronounced geomorphological gradients create strong gradients in mesoclimatic conditions and vegetation zone inversions; in addition, they generate high levels of natural disturbance and resulting patch dynamics. Recently, they have often witnessed disastrous spread of invasive species; although the true reason is unknown, it may be facilitated by the fact that these habitats support so many highly disturbed patches ideally suited for an opportunistic plant invader. All these features make them very distinct from the surrounding landscapes, both now and in the past. Much of the Holocene they seem to have supported ecosystems and species markedly different from the other landscapes; some of the species occurring there are of distinctly relict nature. Much later, when agricultural practices changed the European landscape, sandstone regions usually remained forested to a much greater degree than other landscape types.

Sandstones are not only a phenomenon of geological and biological interest. Strong geomorphological gradients forced people living there to adopt specific agricultural practices and to live in specific kinds of settlements. Bizarre landscapes of sandstone regions have attracted human attention, particularly since the Romantic period; then they became major tourist destinations with a specific settlement structure developing around an early tourist industry.

We believe the uniqueness of gemorphologic and ecological processes in sandstone regions calls for a much more intimate link between geomorphology, climatology, landscape history and biology/ecology. We see this as a challenge for science: in no other landscape type botanical research would be in a stronger need for data on geomorphology, or a geomorphologist on hydrology; many similar examples can be named. A tentative list of topics that we consider really interesting may include:

  • Sandstone surfaces as a "memory" of past environmental processes
  • Formation of sandstone landscapes: deposition and erosion
  • Vegetation history and palaeoecology
  • Interaction of vegetation and sandstone relief
  • Sandstone regions as islands in the current landscape mosaic hosting relict species of plants and animals
  • Forests and sandstone regions
  • Case studies of individual sandstone regions: natural history, history and conservation history
  • History of human settlement in sandstone regions
  • Romantic painters' discovery of sandstone regions
  • Tourism - history, present impacts and future
  • Ecological fragility of sandstone systems in the modern landscape: effects of management change, invasive/alien species

(These subjects are, quite naturally, shaped by the organizers' experience of Central European sandstones only. Still we hope that they may provide a starting point for further discussions and research.)

Quite surprisingly, there has not been a systematic effort devoted to bridging all these disciplines to show the real uniqueness of sandstone regions in geological, ecological and historical context. Therefore we decided to organize a conference devoted specifically to sandstones, while not restricted to any particular scientific field. We hope that this conference will

  • identify which general research topics can use sandstone regions as particularly suitable model systems (habitat islands, patch dynamics in a landscape with high disturbance rates, interactions of vegetation and climate)
  • facilitate comparisons of different sandstone regions over Europe and elsewhere
  • establish contacts and collaboration among people interested in sandstone regions, both across different fields and over geographic space
  • address conservation issues specific for sandstone regions (tourism, rock climbing, restoration management).