Potential of old maps for restoring green and blue infrastructure

Authors and Affiliations: 

Hana Skokanová, Marek Havlíček

Silva Tarouca Research Institute, Brno (Czech Republic)

Corresponding author: 
Hana Skokanová

Landscape has experienced many changes in the past 70 years, which stemmed mainly from agricultural intensification and urbanization (Antrop 2004, Skokanová et al. 2016). As a result, many small green features and other stabilizing landscape elements (e.g. small ponds or wetlands) were destroyed. Nowadays, with increasing loss of biodiversity as well as climate change manifested in among others long periods of drought, soil erosion or floods, there are attempts to create new landscape elements that could help in combatting these issues.
We believe that old maps and other archival sources can be used as an inspiration for restoring green and blue infrastructure since they depict landscapes of the past when the landscapes were managed extensively and were characterized by many small green features, such as hedgerows, solitary trees, groups of trees, groves, balks, etc., as well as by small ponds, unregulated rivers and wetlands.
Our contribution shows some examples how information gained from old maps can help in restoring green and blue infrastructure. Since all examples are spatially explicit and identifiable in the landscape, they can be directly incorporated in landscape/spatial plans. The sources are old maps from 2nd half and end of the 19th century and from 1950s.
All examples are from the Czech Republic and represent parts of rural landscape in South Moravia - a region that is vastly used for intensive agriculture, resulting in the destruction of small elements necessary for good functioning of the landscape. Still, some parts of the region are attractive for tourists due to cultural heritage and preserved nature.
The first example is represented by identification of ponds that were present during the 19th century and were later destroyed. Nowadays majority of these ponds is used as arable land. However, some of them were restored in order to increase water retention in the landscape, to increase biodiversity or for fish production. In other, wetlands spontaneously developed. Still, there are quite a lot of potential places that could be used for restoring these ponds and consequently help not only in increasing landscapes' water retention but also biodiversity.
The second example shows potential for identifying landscape elements which were destroyed but could be restored to be incorporated in present green infrastructure. It also focuses on landscape elements that have been preserved and investigates their quality (e.g. in term of species composition) in order to find out if they can be incorporated into present or planned ecological networks.
The third example deals with linear landscape elements that often accompanied local paths and were later destroyed. Their destruction led not only into the decrease of landscape structure and diversity but also to worsened accessibility or connectivity. Therefore their restoration might help in increasing landscape capacity to provide both these functions.


Antrop, M., 2004. Landscape change and the urbanization process in Europe. Landscape and Urban Planning 69: 9-26

Skokanová, H., Falťan, V., Havlíček, M., 2016. Driving forces of main landscape change processes from past 200 years in Central Europe – differences between old democratic and post-socialist countries. Ekológie (Bratislava) 35: 50-65

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