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Historical Changes in Urban and Peri-Urban Forests: Evidence from the Galați Area, Romania

Institute of Geography, Romanian Academy, 023993 Bucharest, Romania
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Land 2022, 11(11), 2043;
Received: 3 October 2022 / Revised: 4 November 2022 / Accepted: 11 November 2022 / Published: 14 November 2022


In Romania, urban and peri-urban forests (UPUF) have been subject to significant transformations during the past centuries, especially during the post-communist period. The current paper seeks to provide an integrated assessment of UPUF in one of the most dynamic and densely populated urban areas in Romania, i.e., Galați, in terms of historical overview, forest structure and dynamics, and conservation of forest ecosystems, and the way all these aspects are reflected in the toponymy. The analysis covers three main time intervals: (1) until the 20th century, (2) the first half of the 20th century, and (3) the second half of the 20th century through the beginning of the 21st century. For each of the three intervals, complex quantitative spatial and temporal analyses were performed at the level of the Local Administrative Unit (LAU) using in-depth documentation of relevant historical records and geospatial data for selected years (1912, 1948, 1976, 2002, and 2018) derived from cartographic materials and satellite images. Significant changes in the urban and peri-urban forests were evidenced, but the most notable were observed since the 19th century in relation to the new political and socio-economic context, which pushed deforestation processes to support settlement expansion (though urbanization and suburbanization) and agricultural development (intensification and extensification). These processes gradually expanded until the beginning of the 21st century under the socio-economic changes during the communist regime and the post-communist period. Galați area has more than tripled in size, which led to a significant pressure on the forest-covered area, followed by changes in its structure and composition.

1. Introduction

Urban and peri-urban space is rapidly growing across Europe. As a result, along with the continuous urban growth and infrastructure expansion, significant processes associated with land use/cover change and transformation in the periphery of cities are taking place [1,2,3], having as main consequence the reduction in green space, mainly forests. Green areas and particularly forests are playing an increasingly important role in maintaining the ecological balance, health status, and aesthetics in and around cities. In addition, preserving biodiversity should also be an important goal in the urban environment, especially in highly urbanized areas with little natural habitat remnants, where biodiversity plays an important role in the long-term ecosystem functioning [4]. On the other hand, forests can be often seen as obstacles to further urban development since pressures on suburban forests have often resulted in illegal private dwelling construction, as well as large-scale unplanned land use changes [1].
Urban and peri-urban forests (UPUF) are important components of urban green infrastructure (UGI), which commonly includes urban parks, protected natural areas, agricultural lands, urban influenced forests, and recreational green spaces [2,5,6,7]. UGI, in general, and UPUF, in particular, are key elements in sustainable urban planning due to their capacity to provide valuable ecosystem services and benefits [8,9,10,11], as well as adaptation and resilience to effects related to climate change [10,12,13]. UPUF refer to the main elements of urban green structures: forests and other tree-dominated vegetation in and around urban areas [14]; particularly, urban forests entail the communal, city, or town woodlands and resources [3], while peri-urban forests to the ones located between the urban core and the rural landscape [9].
The spatial patterns and processes affecting the urban biodiversity vary along the urban–rural gradient [4], being more intense and diverse within the city core compared to its outskirts and surrounding rural areas. However, recently, peri-urban areas—as transitional or interaction zones where urban and rural activities are involved—are subject to rapid transformations under intense human activities [15,16]. Peri-urban areas act as mosaics of land use/cover types that include new built-up areas (under the extended suburbanization processes) and related functions (e.g., commercial, industrial), as well as farms, villages, forest patches, etc. [16]. Under the given context, urban and peri-urban forests should be integrated into the (peri)urban system to provide sustainable urban development in terms of improving the quality of life and environment for urban populations [14].
Apart from their visual and aesthetic value, urban forests also provide priceless ecosystems services that can mitigate most of the negative environmental impacts of urban growth-related processes, with direct and indirect impacts on the health and well-being of urban citizens, such as: improving air quality (forests can mitigate most of the environmental impacts of urban development by moderating climate), reducing emissions [7,17,18,19], providing social, climatic, ecologic, economic benefits [20] or recreation use [21], and promoting and preserving biodiversity [4]. All these make clear that urban forestry is not just ‘forestry’ in (or near) urban areas [3]. On the other hand, cities contain less vegetation than the surrounding rural areas, and the existing green and blue spaces are often under the threat of increasing population densities [22] and impacts related to climate change.
In contrast, the ecosystem services that peri-urban forests provide are slightly limited to the overall recreational and amenity benefits they generate, especially for the nearby residential areas [9] or town citizens during weekends. It can also be considered the city–forest ecotone [23] or transitional zone [16], acting like a buffer against the urban-related human impacts over the surrounding area. However, generally, together with urban and peri-urban agriculture, urban and peri-urban forests have an important role in mediating climate change [24]. Thus, UPUF can provide regulating (e.g., cooling, air pollution removal, flood regulation, carbon storage), cultural (e.g., aesthetics, recreation), and provisioning (e.g., food, clean water, medicines) services with both local and regional importance [25].
Over the centuries, the lowlands of southern Romania, where the study area falls, have been subject to major changes driven by the human impact under the increased demand for space and resources. The political and socio-economic context of the 19th century, following the Treaty of Adrianople (1829), brought in the freedom of trade (mostly cereals and timber) north of the Danube River. This led to boosted development of agriculture and urban development, which significantly and constantly affected the forests [26]. As a result, the natural ecosystems have been transformed, some forests have decreased in size, and were replaced by secondary meadow associations (natural pastures and hayfields), or almost disappeared [27,28]. During the communist period (1948–1989), Romanian forests were almost entirely owned by the state. After the fall of communism (1990–to date), Romania has undergone a variety of spatial and structural changes. As a result, the combination of the restitution of private land (including forest restitution) and urbanization/suburbanization processes had the most significant effects on the forest areas, driven by the resulting land use/land cover changes. As such, in the lowlands, the largest share of oak forests, steppe, and sylvosteppe vegetation has been replaced by croplands [29].
Following the demand for a better living environment within and in the close proximity to cities, UPUF-related literature has mainly examined the relationships between green areas and human health and well-being [30,31,32,33], the quality of the overall urban environment [34], or, particularly, air quality [8,18,19,35,36,37,38]. Given the regulating ecosystem services they provide, urban and peri-urban forests are also frequently addressed in relation to climate change mitigation and adaptation measures and policies at different spatial scales [39,40,41]. Planning and managing urban and peri-urban green spaces is an important issue in the context of maintaining their integrity and functioning to ensure human and environmental health [42,43] towards smart city design and planning [44].
Studies providing methodical analyses of the forest dynamics in urban areas, especially at the urban-rural interface, are quite limited [28]. However, an increasingly large number of studies are including space–time approaches when addressing the relationships between urban/suburban green spaces and land use/cover changes [2,13,28,45] or urban sprawl [28,46,47,47,48,49].
In Romania, UPUF-related studies are mainly connected to the underlying factors of forest transformations and the related consequences, especially over the past decades, subsequent to the fall of the communist regime, for example: forest restitution and evolution through afforestation/deforestation [29,50,51]; forest dynamics [26,28,52,53] and conservation [26,52] using multi-temporal spatial analysis; perception analysis on UGI implementation [54]; forest degradation under extreme weather events and pollution [55,56]; and lack/poor management in protected forest areas [51,57]. The consequences of these UPUF-related topics made space for a series of environmental consequences with impacts on forest ecosystems: loss of essential biodiversity and ecosystem services [58], introduction and spread of invasive plant species [59,60], forest/land degradation through erosion and extreme weather phenomena, i.e., aridization processes [29,55,56], etc. On the other hand, urban green space development over vacant land can be used to control urban sprawl [48].
In line with the above, the current paper seeks to provide a quantitative and qualitative integrated assessment of urban and peri-urban forests in one of the most dynamic urban areas in Romania, Galați, in terms of: historical overview (spatio-temporal analysis), forest structure (i.e., biogeographical and ecosystem classification of forests, composition, height), and dynamics and conservation of forest ecosystems (protected areas). The aim of this study is to address these goals while demonstrating the following research hypotheses: (hi) During the past centuries, significant spatial and statistical changes took place as reflected by historical maps and old forest records. (hii) The structure of the forest vegetation and animals mirrors the diversity of the environmental conditions of the study area. (hiii) Forest conservation means adopted in the study area are ways of preserving urban and peri-urban forests. (hiv) Most of the changes identified in (hi) are reflected in the toponymy.

2. Materials and Methods

Recently, an increasingly large number of studies addressed land use/cover changes in urban and peri-urban environments to highlight the dynamics of urban and peri-urban forests using several methods and techniques, such as geospatial modelling [2,52,53] and remote sensing [13,61] based on long-term or short-term historical maps. However, when trying to capture longer periods of time (centuries), the lack of compatible and homogeneous spatial and statistical data could be substituted or completed by additional information (e.g., historical evidence, chronics, monographs, old photography). In-depth analyses of the long-term urban and peri-urban forest dynamics in Romania have not been performed so far [28]. As a result, the current research relies on relevant scientific, cartographical, historical, and statistical documents (published or not), and on some regional geographical works and field observations to provide a more solid empirical foundation for the UPUF analysis through an interconnected approach ranging from a historical overview since early times to how forest structure and natural protected areas are reflected in forest toponyms (Figure 1).
Historical overview (Section 4.1). The analysis uses, almost exhaustively, the available statistical and spatial data issued from historical documents and cartographical materials covering three main intervals: (1) until the 20th century: map of Moldavia1 by F.G. Bawr, 1769–1772 [62]; Bergenheim’s map, 1833 [63], and the Atlas of Moldavia, 1892–1893 [64] based on the empirical approaches issued from analytical visual inquiries and scientific evidences [65,66]; (2) the first half of the 20th century relies on the historical evidence provided by the Statistical Guideline of Covurlui County, 1948 [67], scientific records [68,69], and old photographs [70]; (3) the second half of the 20th century through the beginning of the 21st century, associated with the spatial transformations of the post-communist period, was depicted based on the interpretation and analysis of the statistical data (Galaţi Direction of Statistics data, 2016) [71], spatial data (Soviet map, 1948; topographic map, 1976; LANDSAT satellite images 2002 and 2016; forest cover, 2015), together with scientific records [72,73]. The dynamics of urban and peri-urban forests was performed based on the interrogation and visual interpretation of the geospatial data provided by the historical sources [62,63,64] and the review of relevant seminal literature [65,66] (Table 1). The latter included descriptive information about some forest bodies, the structure of the species, and the covered surfaces. From the comparative analysis of the historical maps, the authors could identify areas where forests have been withdrawn in order to further understand the impacts on biodiversity and forest integrity (detailed in Section 4.2).
For the periods when the intensity of spatial transformations was higher, and the available information was supplemented by several spatial data sources (topographic maps, satellite images), visual analysis and comparative assessment of the historical maps were conducted. This resulted in quantitative and visual products (maps, graphs) able to provide valuable information related to the spatial dynamics of the forest-covered areas. For each of the three intervals, complex quantitative spatial and temporal analyses were made using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) based on the geospatial data for selected years (1912, 1948, 1976, 2002, and 2018) derived from the image processing and visual interpretation of the cartographic materials and satellite images (analysed in Section 4.1). The investigation was performed at the level of the Local Administrative Unit (LAU), the lowest level of administrative–territorial units. Appropriate scales for the cartographic sources and resolution of the satellite images were used.
Forest structure (Section 4.2). The spatial dynamics of the forest-covered surfaces was complemented by the dynamics of its structure as it was extracted from forest records provided by the Forest Divisions included in the study area, scientific literature on the floristic and faunistic composition of forest ecosystems (e.g., occurrence and description of indicative species from the earliest records), and field investigations. Considering the intense and continuous human intervention on forests (highlighted in Section 4.1), the authors have selected as indicative taxa for the plain areas of Romania some Quercus species—key elements in most forests in the past and main remnants of the primeval vegetation [26,27,73,75]. They were used as witness species, indicators of the former compact forests (some still existing as patches of different size) in order to restore the valuable stands and justify their phytogeographical significance for the existing ecosystems [26].
Protected natural areas (Section 4.3). An important role in the dynamics of the forest-covered areas is played by their conservation. The application of various conservation methods (nature reserves, Natura 2000 sites) has contributed to maintaining intact or almost intact some valuable forest bodies, particularly important considering their position in the (peri)urban area. The analysis of these protection initiatives and the spatial dynamics was based on the information provided in the scientific literature and the legislation that provides for the offset of the protected areas, but also the cartographic materials available to visualize their evolution and covered surface.
Forest toponyms (Section 4.4). The analysis performed in Section 4.1, Section 4.2 and Section 4.3 are supported by a series of toponyms, used locally or are marked on topographic maps, which indicate some characteristics of the forest, such as its past and/or current floristic structure and age, but also a series of processes that have contributed to its spatial and structural transformation (e.g., forest clearing and/or burning).
Overall, Section 4 integrates the key objectives of the current research with the aim to provide a complete view of the historical, spatial, structural, and functional transformations of the UPUF in Galați city and its surrounding area.

3. Study Area

Galaţi City is the largest city along the Danube River and one the biggest in Romania, with a population of 304,957 in 2021 [INS, 2021]. It has complex functions, being a regional and cross-border polarization centre and an important industrial town [76]. Galaţi’s peri-urban area, which lies at the contact between the Higher Covurlui Plain and the Danube River, close to its junction with the Siret and the Prut Rivers, extends to the west, northwest, and especially north of the city (Figure 1). This peri-urban area is rather disproportionately developed, because, in the east, it is bordered by the Prut River (which marks Romania’s state frontier with the Republic of Moldova), while in the south it continues with the peri-urban area of Brăila City.
Studying the contemporary urban–rural relations in Moldavia, Istrate (2008) [77] identified the limit of the Galaţi peri-urban area, which extends up to Vlădeşti–Fârţăneşti–Pechea–Tudor Vladimirescu settlements, spreading over 159,898 ha. This territory encompasses the following administrative–territorial units: Braniştea, Cuca, Cuza-Vodă, Fârţăneşti, Folteşti, Frumuşiţa, Galaţi, Independenţa, Măstăcani, Pechea, Piscu, Rediu, Scânteieşti, Schela, Slobozia Conachi, Smârdan, Şendreni, Tudor Vladimirescu, Tuluceşti, Vânători, and Vlădeşti (Figure 2). Noteworthy, a small sector of the peri-urban area lies south of the Danube River, in Tulcea County, but there are no forest areas there. According to their geographical position (maximum elevation 200 m above sea level), forests fall into two large categories: sylvosteppe plain forests (along interfluves, on slopes, and in the valleys) and floodplain forests [70]. The main types of soils found under the forests in the area are phaeozems and fluvisols, followed by preluvols, arenosols, and chernozems [78].
The study area, through its position in one of the most dynamic areas in Romania, faced visible spatial and functional transformations related to the UPUF over the past centuries, much more intense during the past decades. Galaţi City governs the urban network over a vast territory both in terms of size and multi-functional development [79]. The city has made a good use of its position of contact-place with several physical–geographical units and of its location on the banks of the navigable Danube River. In 1998, it became part of the “Lower Danube” Cross-border Cooperation Euroregion (Romania, Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine).
Most of the large forest areas that existed several centuries ago have been gradually cleared until the contemporary times. In this way, what still exists is only “remnants” of the mediaeval forest areas. As a result of intense human activity, the studied territory lies now at the contact between steppe and sylvosteppe, in Europe’s biogeographical steppe region [80]. However, the high summer temperatures (averaging 22.5 °C in July) and little precipitation (444.7 mm/year in Galaţi), together with the human deforestations have contributed to enhancing the region’s steppe-type characteristics.
The socio-economic development of the Galați area has increased during the second half of the 19th century, following the Treaty of Adrianople (1829), when its port-related functions became increasingly more important for the transport of goods along the Danube River (Porto Franco status, 1837–1883). Thus, after 1859, important infrastructure investments were made (e.g., piers, warehouses, shops, factories), leading to the territorial expansion of the town to the suburban periphery. The connection and subordination between the city and its peri-urban area have become more visible after the Second World War, especially after the construction of the iron-and-steel plant—Sidex Galați [81] (currently Arcelor Mittal). The town was singled out for this type of industry by political decision within the context of the industrialization drive of the 1950s [76], transforming it into one of the leading industrial cities of Romania (mainly during the communist period). All of these socio-economic transformations have driven a variety of landscape changes both inside and outside the city, which generally affected the changes in the dimension, structure, and functions of the UPUF.

4. Results

4.1. Historical Overview of Urban and Peri-Urban Forests (from the 15th Century until the Beginning of the 21st Century)

Urban and peri-urban forests from the 15th century until the 20th century. Galaţi town was documented in 1445 (originally a Mediaeval fishermen’s village), turned into a borough at the end of the 15th century [74], and later the seat of Covurlui County (currently Galaţi County). Its subsequent evolution and development, as a main Danube harbour of the Moldavian feudal state, and later on of the Principality of Moldavia, led to a significant population increase and implicitly to further forest cuttings in many neighbourhoods, wood being required both as a building material and as a house-heating source.
In the beginning, the houses and churches in Galaţi were made of wood [74]. In 1742, “streets in town were paved with wooden poles” and “almost all houses were covered with shingle” [82] (p. 225).
The town’s population increased from some 2000 inhabitants in the 16th–17th centuries, to 4500 in the next century, 26,050 in 1860 and 63,560 in 1899 [83]. The peri-urban territory was well-covered with forests. A document dated 12 January 1495, mentioned the “forest stretching” out in the border area between Covurlui and Tutova lands [84]. Later, the Catholic Bishop, Bandinus, who visited the Principality of Moldavia in 1646, spoke about the vast and thick forests that covered Covurlui land [85].
Another reason for deforestation in the Higher Covurlui Plain was its oaks, the wood being used for shipbuilding in Galaţi harbour. In the work Descriptio Moldaviae (Description of Moldavia), written by the great scholar Dimitrie Cantemir between 1714 and 1716 at the request of the Berlin Academy (whose member he was since 1714) the author shows that: “the Moldavian wood was appreciated by sailsmen in particular, because they consider it the best of all shipbuilding woods and the most resistant one of all” [86] (p. 29). Ever since the Mediaeval Times, Galaţi was a sailing-boat-building harbour (for the so-called “Moldavian sails”), the town becoming the main Moldavian port since the 17th century.
In the 17th and early 18th centuries “they used to fetch to Galaţi huge quantities of wood cut from the Covurlui forests and from other parts of the country (Moldavia a.n.), most of them being shipped to Constantinople” [82] (p. 82). Much wood was needed to maintain the town streets paved with pieces of oak, which used to be replaced once every five years.
According to Tufescu (1966), “the destruction of forest land began with the first 18th-century exports made by Turkish merchants for economic reasons” [69] (p. 10). The first document where this phenomenon was mentioned was the Law Corpus (Rom. “Aşezământul”), issued on 28 November 1792, under Moldavia’s Ruling Prince Alexandru Moruzi. “There they show that in Covurlui land, a few large, very useful forest areas, had existed, when the order came for timber to be quickly delivered to Constantinople; there it was found and from there sent to the harbours, and what was left were merely wood patches” [87] (p. 481). Furthermore, the author suggested that in the Prut and Siret floodplains “forests should no longer be harmed, the cutting of tall trees should be forbidden and only branches allowed to be cut” [87] (p. 482).
The only 18th-century map on which Moldavian forests were depicted was “Carte de la Moldavie, pour servir à l’histoire de la guerre entre les Russes et les Turcs”, scale 1/288,000, available thanks to F.G. Bawr (1769–1772) [62]. On this map, one sees the forest areas (shown by small and thick circles) north of Galaţi City along the Piscu–Tuluceşti Commune alignment (Figure 3).
Bergenheim’s map (Carte générale des Principautés de Valachie et de Moldavie), published in 1833 [67], depicts two large forest massifs in the centre and northwest of the current peri-urban zone, and another in the Folteşti–Fârţăneşti area (Figure 4).
Noteworthy, in 1842, Prince Dimitrie Moruzi’s dendrological park on the Pechea estate had several thousands of various tree species. In 1849, the botanist Charles Guebhard referred to: “the progressive shrinking of the forests which, in the past, used to cover nearly all of Lower Moldvia’s soil” [87] (p. 101).
The first accurate forest-related data have been identified on the Sylvic Chart of Romania, published by Stănescu in 1869 [88]. It includes the following records: Tuluceşti—576 ha, Rediu—532 ha, Braniştea—232 ha, Fârţăneşti—232 ha, Cotu Brateş—173 ha, Stoicani—86 ha, Şiviţa—60 ha, Cuca—49 ha, and Fileşti Woods—9 ha, close to Galaţi [89]. This is the first map on which the dominant tree species of forests occur, e.g., the Quercus sp. in Braniştea, Tuluceşti, Şiviţa, Stoicani, and Fârţăneşti forests, and Populus sp. and Salix sp. in Cotu Brateş Forest which, at that time, existed only at the northern end of the homonymous lake.
With a view to afforestation, the Romanian Forest Service published (4 September 1890) a list of the terrains on which forests had to be planted. Among them, a few were scheduled for the study area: Tuluceşti 300 ha, Slobozia Conachi 250 ha, Piscu 200 ha, and Braniştea 400 ha [67]. The first comprehensive data on the region’s forest-stock date back to 1892–1893. Thus, according to Pacu (1892) [65], the largest forest areas—over 3000 ha—existed on the territory of Folteşti Commune, while the smallest ones were in Galaţi City (Figure 5). As a result, in 1892, the peri-urban forest reached 14,067 ha, that is, 8.8% of its entire surface, the highest afforestation percentage being recorded in Măstăcani (42.0%) and Cuca (30.8%) communes. At that time, significant forest degradation in some communes was detected by Pacu (1892) [65]. Out of the overall forest area, what was left were simply bush patches: 257 ha at Chiraftei (30.1% of all), 257 ha at Măstăcani (20.6%), and 540 ha at Fârţăneşti (61.3%).
Deforestation also continued towards the end of the 19th century, e.g., at Frumuşiţa, where the inhabitants “mostly of Scânteieşti, were engaged in taking out tree roots from the forests” [65] (pp. 77–78). Even the forest close to Cuca Village was named then “Rădăcini” (English Roots); also, in Rareş Forest, nearby Cuca, “trees were scarce” [65] (p. 139).
An insight into the forest areas at the end of the 19th century was made by examining the maps found in the Atlas of Moldavia (1892–1893), scale of 1/50,000 [75]. There, a compact forest zone existed only between the settlements of Fârţăneşti–Folteşti–Cuca–Scânteieşti north of the current peri-urban area (4100 ha), to which are added two vast forests (837 and 812 ha) and two smaller ones (337 and 288 ha). The remaining forestland consisted of 22 small kinds of woods between 2 and 175 hectares (Figure 6). Noteworthy, in 1894 a Forest District that administered the region’s forest stock, was functioning in Tuluceşti Commune; in 1968 it was moved to Galaţi City.
Urban and peri-urban forests in the first half of the 20th century. In 1906, the authorities listed for afforestation 200 ha near Brateş Lake (Galaţi), 144.3 ha near Braniştea, 201.3 ha close to Cişmele Village (Smârdan Commune), and 29.5 ha in the vicinity of Piscu Village [67].
During the First World War, the few forested areas left were destroyed, some being cleared for good to make room for the Romanian and Russian troops camping there between 1916 and 1918. For example, small parts of the Miloş Forest outskirts (Smârdan Commune) had been cut before 1916, but in 1917, the Russian troops who settled nearby, would cut down the trees, leaving behind vast glades without any tree thereon. Planting began only in 1925, and by 1938 there was 268 ha planted with black locust (248 ha) and oak (20 ha).
In 1938, there was 647 forest ha of black locust (267 ha) and oak (334 ha); glades covered 46 hectares, and 25-year-old stands, with 6 and 10 tall trees of the same species were seen here and there. “The forest looks like a vast glade of afforested pasture, consisting of bunches of degraded and stunted trees” was written in the first forest planning document of 1938 (p. 3). In the twenties of the past century, more strands were seen in Tuluceşti Forest (Gârboavele) with rare stands in the 1920s (Figure 7).
The Land Reform of 1921 led to the destruction of some forest sectors. However, since many terrains were left barren during the First World War, there were cases when the forest overlapped them. Thus, Enculescu (1924) [70] mentioned that on some lands, in the neighbourhood of Gârboavele Forest (Tuluceşti Commune), “isolated individuals of Quercus sp. spread there naturally, but especially Ulmus sp. stands with vigorous growth, obviously extending in the surrounding cultivated places” (p. 211) (Figure 8).
In 1926, Fârţăneşti and Rediu forests had only 10- to 20-year-old oak trees, given that significant forest areas shrank during the 1893–1938 period (Figure 9). Particularly, in 1912 (as shown in the Austro-Hungarian Map), most of the forest-covered areas were grouped in the northern part of the study area, mainly at the Fârtanești, Scânteiești, and Măstăcani localities (Figure 10), much more extended than today.
Between 1939 and 1941, a few small communal kinds of woods were planted by the former Galați Regional Forestry Department within the annual silvicultural projects. Exploitations in the few existing forests were also made during the Second World War. According to the Agricultural Enquiry of 15 January 1947, the largest forest areas (over 1000 ha) occurred on the territories of Tuluceşti and Braniştea communes, the smallest ones in Şendreni and Smârdan communes, near Galaţi City (Figure 11).
The highest afforestation shares were recorded in Braniştea and Rediu communes (24.1% and 16.8%, respectively). However, in 1947, the overall peri-urban area of Galaţi had 4922 ha covered with forest, which is 3.1% of the whole territory. It follows that in only 55 years (1892–1947) its forest area shrank by 65%. In 1947, it was for the first time that the question of improving the degraded lands, through afforestation, was raised. Thus, in the spring of 1948, Robinia pseudoacacia L. was planted on 116 ha in the territory of Tuluceşti Commune. In 1946–1948, poplar trees were planted on terrain bordering the banks of Brateş Lake, reclaimed in 1965 [90].
Urban and peri-urban forests in the second half of the 20th century until the beginning of the 21st century. The intensification of tree-planting on eroded grounds and the extension of some plantations in the floodplains of the Prut, Siret, Chineja, and Danube Rivers during 1951–1989 extended the forest-covered area. Some anti-erosion Robinia pseudoacacia L. plantations were given suggestive names, e.g., Rediu Surpat (English Collapsed Rediu) and Râpalui Nicolae (English Nicolae’s Scarp), Râpa (English Scarp), Bălaia and Coasta (English Slope), Brateş (Tuluceşti Commune), Coasta (English Slope), Pechii (Pechea Commune), and Coasta (English Slope) [91]. However, a forest belt to protect the field west of Tuluceşti, planted in 1952, was cleared ten years later.
In the mid-1950s, the oak stands were “small-sized, with crooked and ramified trunks, clustered together or discontinued by grass-covered glades” [72] (p. 577), as suggested by the very name of a forest (Strâmbele/the Crooked, in Vlădeşti Commune). Even a decade later Quercus pubescens was “widely and abundantly spread in Southern Moldavia” [73] (p. 260).
Subsequently, silvicultural interventions in the Higher Covurlui Plain cleared the typical sylvosteppe stands and largely replaced them with Robinia pseudoacacia L., but also with pine and flowering ash trees (on very small areas) and poplar and willow trees in the floodplain areas. In the second half of the 20th century, many elm-tree areas affected by dryness were cleared. During 1950–1970, the damming and draining works made in the Siret and the Prut floodplains removed many forests. Overall, the highest afforestation share (12.8%) was registered in Fârţăneşti Commune and the lowest (0.4%) in Schela Commune (Figure 12). As a result, in 2016, what had remained of the region’s forests were only 10,304 ha (6.4% of the whole forest-covered area).
The 60 current forest-bodies of Galaţi peri-urban area vary in size from 4 to 683 ha, but generally prevailing are small- and medium-sized forests of up to 200 ha (Figure 13).
Overall, throughout the second half of the 20th century, significant changes in the forest cover occurred, especially in the Galați urban area, which has more than tripled its surface from almost 244 ha in 1948 to over 929 ha in 2016. However, the peri-urban area maintained a rather constant surface during the analysed period, approximately 7200 ha. At LAU level, Rediu and Smârdan recorded the highest increase, while a larger number of localities (e.g., Piscu, Tudor Vladimirescu, Pechea, Măstăcani, Braniștea) registered a shrinkage of their forest-covered areas (Figure 14).

4.2. Forest Structure

Forest structure generally refers to the configuration and distribution of different plant species and size following the interactions between the natural and ecological processes over a long temporal and spatial scale [92]. Its characteristics usually include abundance, tree size, height, species, and density [93,94]. Together with its function, forest structure is one of the biocentric means (intrinsic value of trees and forests) of expressing the importance of the urban forest [94]. In the current study, the authors refer to characteristics that could be extracted from forest records, scientific literature, or field investigations, such as species composition, tree size, and height. In the study area, sylvosteppe forests are dominant. They are important forest formations, located on the border with the steppe region, with a dominant role in the conservation of some xero-thermophilous oak species (mainly Quercus pubescens and Quercus pedunculiflora) that are remnants of the former forest areas existing in the past centuries in southern Romania [27,28]. In 1966, Quercus pedunculiflora and Quercus pubescens areas covered 541 ha and 1102 ha, respectively, the sharpest territorial reductions being registered by the latter in Valea Bisericii Forest (Rediu Commune), namely, from 419 ha in 1966 to 33 ha at the end of the 20th century. The regeneration of the two Quercus species was based on their offshoots; hence, many stumps were worn out (in 1966, 80% on 76 ha of the Miloş Forest, 33 ha in the Mogoş Forest (Scânteieşti Commune), 154 ha in Valea Bisericii Forest [95]. Today, in the forests of the Higher Covurlui Plain, Quercus pedunculiflora stands cover some 470 ha, Quercus pubescens 460 ha, and another 150 ha are mixed with other species. They have a maximum age of 75 years.
Quercus pubesecens is currently found in a few forests (Gârboavele, Bălţatu, Rediu, Valea Bisericii, Valea Viilor (Fârţăneşti Commune), Mogoş, Căligar (Cuca Commune), Călugăriţa (Fârţăneşti Commune), and Strâmbele (Vlădeşti Commune). Their surface area varies from 33 ha (at Valea Bisericii) and 170 ha (at Gârboavele). The wood is hard and difficult to use for shipbuilding when young. The authors found Quercus pedunculiflora in the following forests: Cuca, Rediu, Mogoş, Miloş, Gârboavele, Bălţatu, Fârţăneşti, Valea Bisericii, Rareş, Păşcăniţa (Fârţăneşti Commune), Buturiş (Fârţăneşti Commune), Călugăreasca Mică (Fârţăneşti Commune), Călugăriţa, Iezătura Cuca, Strâmbele, Teiş-Coşare (Scânteeşti Commune), and Sârbi (Tuluceşti Commune). Covered areas range from 4–5 ha (Bălţatu, Sârbi) to 210 ha (Gârboavele).
Sylvosteppe forests also host other ligneous species, e.g., Ulmus minor, Acer tataricum, Pyrus elaeagrifolia, Quercus robur (seldom distributed and only at the bottom of some valleys), Crataegus monogyna, Rhamnus cathartica, Viburnum lantana, Ligustrum vulgare, Rosa canina, Prunus spinosa, Prunus tenella, Amygdalus nana, Cornus mas, Rubus caesius, Sambucus nigra, Fraxinus excelsior, and Pyrus pyrasterand Cornussanguinea. Acer platanoides can be seen in the Mogoş and Miloş forests, Acer campestre in Gârboavele and Rediu forests, and Cotinus coggygria in Gârboavele, Rediu and Mogoş forests. In Bălţatu and Mogoş forests, there is also Quercus frainetto, and in Gârboavele forest, Tilia cordata and Prunus mahaleb [95]. Robinia pseudoacacia L. stands are between 10 and 30 year old, seldom Rosa canina and Prunus spinosa bushes occur.
Pinus silvestris was planted in Bălţatu, Iezătura Cuca, and Teiş-Coşare forests, while Fraxinus ornus in Călugăriţa, Ijdileni (Frumuşiţa Commune), Mogoş, Păşcăniţa, Rareş, and Strâmbele forests, and Prunus mahaleb on the Coasta Brateş plantation.
The floodplain forests are represented mainly by Salix riverside coppices (mostly Salix alba) and Populus (Populus alba and Populus tremula). Willow plantations were established in the Chineja Floodplain (Fârţăneşti, Măstăcani, and Folteşti communes). Additionally, Quercus robur can be seen in Leuca Forest (Independenţa Commune) and in many other areas in the Siret Floodplain. Other species are Acer campestre, Fraxinus excelsior, and Ulmus foliacea. Among the shrubs one can find in the area are: Sambucus nigra, Viburnum opulus, Cornus sanguinea, and Rubus caesius. Poplar and willow stands have a maximum age of 65–70 years. In the floodplains (e.g., in Leuca Forest), but also in the sylvosteppe (Rareş, Miloş, Strâmbele forests), Acer platanoides also grows.
The forest vegetal associations identified in this region by [96] are: Cotino–Quercetum pubescentis, Soó 1931; Quercetum pedunculiflorae, Borza 1937; Aceri tatarici–Quercetum pubescenti-pedunculiflorae, Zólyomi 1957; Saliceto–Populetum, Tüxen 1931; and Robinietum pseudacaciae, Arvat 1939.
Overall, in terms of the dominant leaf type, according to Forest Cover 2015 (Copernicus Land Monitoring Service), over 84% of the forest areas are broadleaved, while the rest of nearly 14% are coniferous.

4.3. Protected Natural Areas

The first initiative to protect the forest areas dates to 1928, when Professor Alexandru Borza, founder of the Botanical Gardens of Cluj University, proposed “to protect a small oak forest in Tuluceşti”, over 8 ha. It had taken many years for this idea to be put into practice. The first protected area was Gârboavele Forest near Tuluceşti (12 km north of Galaţi City). In 1977, the former Popular Council of Galaţi County issued a decision (no. 160/1977) whereby 100 ha in the northwest forest was declared forest reserve. Subsequently, by Decision no. 46/1994 of Galaţi County Council, the protected area was extended to 230 ha—as a Complex Scientific Reserve (botanical, zoological, and forestry), a statute confirmed by Decision no. 239/1999 of Galaţi County Council, extending its surface to 300 ha [97], for the protection of the typical Quercus pubescens and Q. pedunculiflora, respectively, 41% and 27% of the forest area. By Decision no. 22/1964 of the Council of Ministers of the Romanian People’s Republic, the forest was transferred from Tuluceşti Forest Range to Galaţi City mayoralty to be managed as forest park. Next, by Decision no. 805/1998 of the Government of Romania, Gârboavele Forest was transferred to Galaţi County Council.
Gârboavele Forest was intended to be a place of leisure and recreation [98], providing an atmosphere of beauty, quietness, comfort, and disconnection for the urban residents. Currently, it has a total area of 399.7 ha, of which 230 ha of forest is declared a protected natural area. The forest hosts 9.4 ha of glades, a zoological park belonging to the Galaţi Natural Sciences Museum Complex (8.2 ha), and a school camp (2.2 ha). There are three more protected areas in the study area: Tirighina–Barboși fossil site (1.5 ha), Balta Potcoava (39.3 ha), and Balta Tălăbasca (2.4 ha).
According to the provisions of the 2010 Forest Management Plan, oak stands are under a special conservation regime. The number and frequency of visitors are only limited to the zoological garden and the gardens of the three restaurants (3.6 ha), which attract most of the guests, especially in the warm season, mostly during weekends. The forest is crossed by 2.9 km of asphalted road. The areas under human influence are located in the southeast end of the forest where built-up areas are extended.
An important protected area is the Lower Prut Floodplain Natural Park. It was set up by the Romanian Government’s Decision no. 2151/2004 on 8247 ha of which 7260 ha overlaps the study area, extending to the north beyond the boundaries of the peri-urban zone. In 2007, the Decision no. 1284, issued by the Romanian Government, designated it as a Special Avifauna Protection Area (SPA) and Site of Community Importance (SCI), an integral part of the Nature 2000 European Ecological Network (excepting Brateş Lake) by Order no. 1964 of the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development (Figure 15). The main goal is protection of the Park’s bird species (ca. 230): Milvus milvus, Circus macrouros, Buteo rufinus, Aquila clanga, Picus canus, Dendrocopos medius, Emberiza hortulana, Lanius collurio, etc.
An important protected area is Gârboavele Forest (ROSCI0151), also a Natura 2000 Site of Community Importance. Another Natura 2000 Site of Community Importance is Mogoș–Mâțele Forest (65 ha in the study area), also part of the Lower Prut Floodplain Natural Park (1221 ha), which is preserving natural habitats (e.g., Ponto–Sarmatic deciduous thickets, Eastern white oak woods, and Euro-Siberian steppic woods with Quercus spp.) and important species of flora and fauna ( accessed on 31 October 2022).

4.4. Forest Toponyms

The idea of young forests with small and scarce oak trees is preserved in the toponymic name “rediu” [97] e.g., Rediu and Gura Rediu Hills (Scânteieşti Commune), Piscu Rediu (Summit Rediu) and Piscu Rediu Cailor Hills (Horses Summit Rediu) (Fârţăneşti Commune), an arable land called La Rediu (Pechea Commune), Dealurile Rediu (Hills) (Măstăcani and Scânteieşti communes), and Rediu Cucului Hill (Cuckoo Rediu) (Cuca Commune). A part of Mogoş Forest is named Valea Rediului (Rediu Valley), parts of Rareş Forest are called Rediu Frasinului (Ash Rediu) and Rediu Lung (Long Rediu). A Robinia pseudoacacia L. plantation, called Rediu Boboc, was developed on the territory of a former oak forest in Scânteieşti Commune, a similar case being Rediu Corbului (Raven’s Rediu) in Fârţăneşti Commune. The name of Rediu Commune itself designates a young forest.
The toponym “braniştea” (the name of the homonymous commune) designated “a place where wood-cutting was forbidden” (formerly a “voievodal” branişte legalised by the Ruling Princes of Moldavia). An act dated 1598 mentioned also “braniştea” at Lozova (Braniştea Commune); in 1835, the second name of Şerbeşti Village (Şendreni Commune) was Braniştea [99].
Toponymy also legitimises several elements that prove deforestation actions. Clearing some areas, yet maintaining the tree roots, is illustrated by the name of some agricultural lands e.g., Piscu Rădăcinilor (the Roots Summit) (Fârţăneşti Commune), Rădăcinile (the Roots) (Rediu Commune), and La Pădurea Tăiată (At the Cleared Forest) (Cuca Commune) [100].
Deforestation, associated with pulling out tree roots, is proven by the term “curătură” (cleared forest place for cultivation), preserved in a farming land west of Tătarca Village (Tuluceşti Commune). The terrain called “pârlitură” (burned) (Fârţăneşti Commune) signifies a place cleared by setting fire to the wood. The name “poiană” (glade) stands for a deforested place devoid of trees and covered with grass) is found in a few agricultural lands of Scânteieşti, Braniştea, and Fârţăneşti communes.
Several toponyms designate the past existence of some tree species (elm, Rom. Ulm; linden, Rom. Tei) that are still preserved in the denomination of some agricultural lands, e.g., La Ulmi and Teiş-Coşare (Scânteieşti Commune) and Piscu Teişului (Fârţăneşti Commune).

5. Discussion

Although investigations on urban green spaces are extended, whether we are referring to urban green infrastructure, urban green spaces, urban forests, or peri-urban forests (e.g., [3,5,14,101,102,103]), complex approaches on both urban and peri-urban forests are rather scarce. In consequence, the scope of this current research was to develop an integrated framework which includes both quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the historical, functional, and structural transformations of UPUF during the past centuries in one of Romania’s main cities, Galați. The current study covers a relatively long period that stretches over a few centuries. The aim was to provide a clearer view of the changes related to urban and peri-urban forests in the Galați area based on an empirical assessment of forest dynamics using statistical and spatial data. Although such long-term history of changes has not been performed at the European level, similar studies that followed this process over shorter periods (less than 100 years) have highlighted different intensities of the spatial, structural, or functional transformations. However, common elements were identified, especially with respect to the socio-environmental consequences driven by the (sub)urbanization processes that led to the abandonment of traditional cropland, forest biodiversity loss, land use/land cover changes, land degradation, or landscape transformation. These common elements were particularly similar to those found in studies carried out in Central and Eastern European countries [28,104,105,106,107], but also in some Southern European countries [46,108,109].
Its position in the region, exposed to the most dynamic spatial and functional transformations in Romania (Romanian Plain) [26,28], made Galați city undergo significant changes with visible impacts inside the urban area and at the urban–rural interface. Two main groups of factors shaped these changes: settlement expansion (though urbanization and suburbanization) and agricultural development (though intensification and extensification). If at the beginning of our analysis (15th–16th centuries), forest transformation was modest, as it widely involved tree-harvesting for heating, building houses, and ships or street paving, later on, starting with the 18th century, forests showed a different evolution as a result of the new political and socio-economic context. After signing the Treaty of Adrianople (1829), which liberated the commerce for cereals, livestock, and wood of the Romanian Principalities with Western European countries, the deforestation processes and the development of agriculture started to grow rapidly. These processes gradually expanded over time, becoming more pronounced in the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century under the influence of the Agrarian Reforms, and the socio-economic changes during the communist regime and post-communist periods driven by (sub)urbanization and industrialization.
Although the authors used all available data (e.g., old maps, scientific literature, old photos, statistical data), a series of limitations made the present study unable to provide an exhaustive image of the changes related to urban and peri-urban forests in the Galați area. The most important limitation is the lack of a homogeneous database, both spatial and statistical. This made it difficult to correlate the forest dynamics-related data with the urban expansion, translated both spatially (built-up-area dynamics) and statistically (population growth), in order to better understand the relationships between the changes and the way they are reflected in the forest patches. Urban and peri-urban forests require in-depth research to facilitate the understanding of the complexity of humans and (peri)urban forests relationships. In order to better evaluate these relationships, the dynamics of forests should be understood in relation to the main driving factors of change, both natural and human-induced [110,111,112,113], but also to the ecosystem services that forests provide for the (peri)urban environment [11,25,114], and the best management methods to be adopted [111,112,113,114,115,116]. Together, these analyses could provide holistic approaches able to integrate multiple dimensions (socio-economic, ecologic, and decision-making) using various data, from field measurements to social surveys, to provide effective planning [115] of the urban, peri-urban, or metropolitan systems. Future research to improve the general understanding and visualization of the research findings will need to (i) focus on filling the data gaps and performing a more detailed quantitative analysis of the spatial changes and their correlation with the key driving factors; (ii) assess the evolution of forest transformation in relation to the main flow of changes the study area underwent: agricultural use, urbanization, and industrialization; (iii) correlate forest dynamics and (sub)urbanization and industrialization processes reflected by the built-up area dynamics.

6. Conclusions

The dynamics of urban and peri-urban forests have always been connected to the processes which took place inside and outside the city limits, mainly in relation to the urban development-related process, e.g., (sub)urbanization and industrialization. An insight into historical and cartographic documents has revealed the existence of a much larger forested area between the Roman and early Mediaeval periods. Subsequently, as the settlement network and the population kept increasing, human pressure on the forests increased, too.
People used to cut the forests (creating open spaces—glades, Rom. “poieniri”) as some documents mention it, to create space for grazing, agriculture, or establishing and extending settlements, and meet the taxes imposed by the Ottoman Empire. Intense anthropic use of the peri-urban territory was augmented by the high traffic to-and-from Galaţi, a city-port located of old at the crossings of some important transport routes on land and water. In time, forest clearing throughout the study area, from the south to the north, gained momentum.
Although before the 19th century, forest data are not particularly accurate, yet the existing data can give one an indicatory idea of the extent of deforestation activity. The first exact information comes from the second half of the 19th century. Studying statistical and cartographic documents, the authors identified the first reliable information on the surface area and territorial distribution of species in the peri-urban zone. Thus, in the mid-19th century, forests covered less than 10% of the respective surface area, which means 14,067 ha in the 1892–1893 interval, basically an 8.8% afforestation share. Later, especially during the First World War, other forest-covered areas were cleared, so that hardly 4922 ha (only 3.1%) was still tree-covered at the beginning of 1947.
During the communist period, by the afforestation works with Robinia pseudoacacia L. sp. on eroded grounds and the floodplain plantations, forest areas increased to 10,304 ha in 2016 (6.4% of the whole surface area). Long-time forest clearing, coupled with past characteristics of certain forests, are reflected also in the local toponymy.
The forests of today have a rather altered forest specific composition compared to what it was 150 years ago, as large areas of specific oak species (Quercus pubescens and Quercus pedunculiflora) are now replaced by Robinia pseudoacacia L. plantations (mainly for economic reasons). Today, the study area numbers 60 forests between 4 ha (Sireţelu Woods, Galaţi Municipium) and 683 ha.
The biogeographical characteristics account for xero-thermophilous oaks to be the specific forest stand where the sylvosteppe, as the main forest formation, shows southern features, while the woody phytoelements are either Submediterranean (Quercus pubescens, Cotinus coggygria, Quercus frainetto, Prunus mahaleb), Pontic–Balkan (Quercus pedunculiflora, Pyrus elaeagrifolia), or eastern (Acer tataricum, Amygdalus nana). According to the latest classification of habitat types in Romania, forests in the region fall into the following categories: “Quercus pubescens west Pontic forest–glade”, “Quercus pedunculiflora and Acer tataricum Danubian west Pontic forest–glades”, and “Salix alba and Populus alba Danubian forests” [80].
Given the huge pressure from population growth, land use/cover change, settlement expansion, and climate change, forest areas need effective management and protection. In the study area, Gârboavele Forest has become a place of leisure and recreation (since 1964), gaining Nature Reserve status in 1977. After Romania joined the EU (2007), many forests in the study area were integrated into the Lower Prut Floodplain Natural Park and Natura 2000 network.
Consequently, Galaţi peri-urban forests are very fragile habitats, threatened by human activities and increasingly at risk from steppe expansion, given that the climate tends to become increasingly more arid. Under the given context, green areas and particularly forests are playing an increasingly important role in climate regulation, maintaining the ecological balance, health status, and aesthetics in and around the city, hence requiring specific management measures.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, S.G. and I.G.; methodology, S.G. and I.G.; software, I.G.; formal analysis, I.G.; investigation, S.G.; data curation, I.G.; writing—original draft preparation, S.G. and I.G.; writing—review and editing, S.G. and I.G.; visualization, I.G.; supervision, S.G. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.


The current research was performed in the framework of the project “Geographical study of the man-environment relationships in the Romanian Metropolitan Areas” under the research plan of the Institute of Geography, Romanian Academy.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


The reference to Moldavia or the Principality of Moldavia mentioned throughout the work indicates the independent territory that existed from the 14th century until 1918, when it was included in the Romanian unitary state, currently just as a historical province.


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Figure 1. Data integration and methodological outline.
Figure 1. Data integration and methodological outline.
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Figure 2. Galați urban and peri-urban area.
Figure 2. Galați urban and peri-urban area.
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Figure 3. Forest bodies on the map of Moldavia [62].
Figure 3. Forest bodies on the map of Moldavia [62].
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Figure 4. Forest bodies on Bergenheim’s map [63].
Figure 4. Forest bodies on Bergenheim’s map [63].
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Figure 5. Forest-covered areas at the level of administrative units in 1892, processed after Pacu (1892) [65].
Figure 5. Forest-covered areas at the level of administrative units in 1892, processed after Pacu (1892) [65].
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Figure 6. Forest areas (1892–1893) north of the study region [64].
Figure 6. Forest areas (1892–1893) north of the study region [64].
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Figure 7. View of Tuluceşti Forest (Gârboavele) in 1924 [70].
Figure 7. View of Tuluceşti Forest (Gârboavele) in 1924 [70].
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Figure 8. Extensions of forest and bushes on agricultural lands left barren during the First World War. View from the outskirts of Tuluceşti Forest [70].
Figure 8. Extensions of forest and bushes on agricultural lands left barren during the First World War. View from the outskirts of Tuluceşti Forest [70].
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Figure 9. Shrinkage of forest areas during 1893–1938 [68]. Legend: 1. Forests in 1938; 2. Forests in 1893; 3. Deforested areas in the last 19th-century decades.
Figure 9. Shrinkage of forest areas during 1893–1938 [68]. Legend: 1. Forests in 1938; 2. Forests in 1893; 3. Deforested areas in the last 19th-century decades.
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Figure 10. Forest-covered areas in 1912 (Austro-Hungarian Map).
Figure 10. Forest-covered areas in 1912 (Austro-Hungarian Map).
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Figure 11. Forest area (ha) and the afforestation percentage (%) by local administrative units (January 1947) in the peri-urban area of Galaţi, after the Statistical Directory of Covurlui County [67].
Figure 11. Forest area (ha) and the afforestation percentage (%) by local administrative units (January 1947) in the peri-urban area of Galaţi, after the Statistical Directory of Covurlui County [67].
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Figure 12. Forest area (ha) and afforestation percentage (%) in 2016, registered by the administrative units of Galaţi peri-urban area (Galaţi Statistical Division data).
Figure 12. Forest area (ha) and afforestation percentage (%) in 2016, registered by the administrative units of Galaţi peri-urban area (Galaţi Statistical Division data).
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Figure 13. Number of forests stands in the Galaţi peri-urban area, distribution by various surface-area categories.
Figure 13. Number of forests stands in the Galaţi peri-urban area, distribution by various surface-area categories.
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Figure 14. Forest dynamics in the second half of the 20th century through the beginning of the 21st century, Galaţi urban and peri-urban area: spatial (left) and statistical (right) considerations.
Figure 14. Forest dynamics in the second half of the 20th century through the beginning of the 21st century, Galaţi urban and peri-urban area: spatial (left) and statistical (right) considerations.
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Figure 15. Natural protected areas and forest structure in Galaţi urban and peri-urban area.
Figure 15. Natural protected areas and forest structure in Galaţi urban and peri-urban area.
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Table 1. Statistical and spatial data sources used.
Table 1. Statistical and spatial data sources used.
Main IntervalsKey Spatial and Statistical Sources and Historical Records
Until the 20th century
Scientific and historical evidence about the Middle Ages and Modern times; e.g., Pacu, 1892; Giurescu, 1967 [65,74]
Map of Moldavia by F.G. Bawr, 1769–1772 [62]
Bergenheim’s map, 1833 [63]
Atlas of Moldavia, 1892–1893 [75]
First half of the 20th century
Statistical historical evidence (Statistical Guideline of Covurlui County, 1948) [67]
Scientific records; e.g., Rusescu, 1906; Tufescu, 1966 [68,69]
Old photographies; Enculescu, 1924 [70]
Second half of the 20th century–beginning of the 21st century
Interpretation and analysis of the statistical data (Galaţi Direction of Statistics data, 2016) and spatial data (Soviet map, 1948; topographic map, 1976; LANDSAT satellite images 2002 and 2016; forest cover, 2015, Copernicus Land Monitoring Service)
Scientific records; e.g., Costin, 1955; Paşcovschi and Doniţă, 1967 [72,73]
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Geacu, S.; Grigorescu, I. Historical Changes in Urban and Peri-Urban Forests: Evidence from the Galați Area, Romania. Land 2022, 11, 2043.

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Geacu S, Grigorescu I. Historical Changes in Urban and Peri-Urban Forests: Evidence from the Galați Area, Romania. Land. 2022; 11(11):2043.

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Geacu, Sorin, and Ines Grigorescu. 2022. "Historical Changes in Urban and Peri-Urban Forests: Evidence from the Galați Area, Romania" Land 11, no. 11: 2043.

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