Long-term forest dynamic after land abandonment in a fire prone Mediterranean landscape (central Corsica, France)
Two hundred years of landscape changes were studied on a 3,760 ha area of central Corsica (France) representing a typical Mediterranean environment. Different historical sources, including an accurate land-cover map from 1774 and statistics on land cover from 1848 and 1913, were used. Three additional maps (1960, 1975 and 1990) were drawn, and a complete fire history from 1957 to 1997 was created. Forests expanded slowly by a border effect. Forest expansion was more rapid in unburnt sites (0.59% per year) than in burnt sites (0.23% per year), mostly because the initial amount of forests was greater. Because of the border effect, the combination of past landscape pattern and short distance colonization abilities of forest species may have allowed the shrublands to persist in some places after land abandonment. This persistence may explain the pattern of fire in the landscape, since shrubland burn more readily than forests.