Objectives

This project aims to determine the extent of human influence on the Slavonian forests from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 20th century, and to determine the importance and essentiality of this process for the modernisation of Slavonian region, especially during the period of increasing industrialisation and urbanisation in the 19th century. The main objective of the project is to answer questions how important an economic asset they were, who owned and exploited this asset and how it was invested in the public good, that is, how it was transformed into the social and cultural capital.

During the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period, human activities had little influence on forested areas, due to a relatively small population and less advanced exploitation techniques. Therefore, the research regarding the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period will focus on cultural-anthropological and economic aspects of the man-forest relations. Central part of the research will concentrate on the 19th century, because that is the period of the most dynamic phase of forest exploitation in Slavonia, and because this dynamics in the economy generated immense social changes. The research regarding this historical period will include: identification of large forest complexes that were exploited during that time, determination of the ownership over the forests and the ways of exploitation, determination of the production and sales value of the wood products, determination of the incomes of the forest owners and merchants, and their investments into various cultural and social projects and activities. The research project will employ a forestry scientist who will deal with biotechnical aspect and ecological consequences of clearcutting the vast forested areas. The research will also focus on the comparative analysis of the forest management system at the manors in the Civil Slavonia, and the forest management system of the estate communities in the area of the demilitarised Military Frontier.

The results of the research will provide the most comprehensive insight into the relationship between the man and the forest in Slavonia during the studied period. These results will enable better understanding of the anthropisation of Slavonian forests, disappearance of vast forested areas, and the process of transforming natural capital into social and cultural capital.

The results will be achieved through the following activities: creating the website with an interactive map of forest complexes, organising the workshop on the historical sources, publishing the book with a selection of sources relevant to the history of forests, organising the conference, publishing the book of conference proceedings, and, finally, publishing the collaborative monograph on the anthropisation of the forests in Slavonia, as well as a series works in domestic and foreign journals.

The website and the interactive map of the forest exploitation in Slavonia will be created in order to make the relevant information and results available on the Internet. The interactive map will contain forest complexes during the period of massive exploitation in the 19th century. The map will bring data on the ownership, time period of exploitation, companies that conducted it, and on the kinds and quality of timber logged at these properties. The map should prove useful for various types of beneficiaries – historians, forestry scientists, universities, history school teachers, and non governmental organisations.

The workshop on the historical sources for the forest history will be organised as the joint activity of the historian and the forestry expert engaged on the project. It will comprise of three lectures and the practical work on historical sources. Potential participants are the historians and foresters who would like to enhance their knowledge on the historical sources relevant to the history of forests, the possibilities of the analysis of the aforesaid sources, and specific expertise required to perform such analysis.

The Book of Selected Sources Relevant to the History of Forests
Following the workshop, participants will publish a book containing some of the most significant historical sources for the history of forests (namely the documents regarding forestry legislation) and the sources that will help the project’s beneficiaries familiarise with their structure and provenance in order to become more efficient when dealing with archival materials.

The Conference and the Proceedings
The conference will include international participation thus providing opportunities for developing international cooperation and future internationalisation of the project. The conference will cover the topics related to the history of forests, but also the topics that have the potential for comparative analysis of the man-forest relations in Slavonia with the circumstances in other parts of Croatia and other countries.

The collaborative monograph will be the one of the final outcomes of this research project. The scholars engaged in the project will participate as the authors or co-authors of the chapters in which they will publish complete results of their research. The monograph will, thus, represent the most comprehensive study of the history of Slavonian forests from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 20th century.

The project will employ a postdoctoral research fellow, specialised in the Ottoman history, for the period of two years on full salary that will be covered 60% from the project budget and 40% from the budget of the Department for the History of Slavonia, Srijem and Baranja of the Croatian Institute of History in Slavonski Brod. The purpose of employment is to enable the transfer of knowledge and to train a junior scholar for independent research. An expert for the Ottoman period was chosen due to the needs of the Department for the History of Slavonia, Srijem and Baranja and the fact that such experts are generally scarce in Croatian historiography.

For the purposes of dissemination and possible continuation of the project, the associates will establish contact with local authorities and tourist boards, elementary and high school institutions, history and forestry departments at universities, and non governmental organisations engaged in nature conservation. These institutions are also potential beneficiaries of this project. The connections with the aforementioned beneficiaries will be established via project’s website, the media, and if so arranged, through public lectures.