sPlot is the world’s first global vegetation database. It contains more than 1 million plots with detailed lists of plant species. It was established by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig in 2013. The main goals of sPlot are to integrate national and continental vegetation databases to facilitate studies on global patterns in plant diversity across facets, biomes and scales. The last release of sPlot (v. 2.1) contained 1,121,244 georeferenced plots from 110 databases, 130 countries and all seven continents. 

Based on an extensive dataset from the Forest Database of Southern Poland, we tested whether forest management practices affect species composition in forest ecosystems. In this study we focused on communities of broadleaved ravine forests that are spatially limited to specific habitat conditions, including steep rocky slopes with skeletal soil and unstable ground. Ravine forests play an important role as biodiversity hotspots and contribute to the protection of soil and water resources. Due to high biodiversity and limited economic value, most stands of ravine forest have been subject to extensive management or have remained unmanaged. Ravine forests are a subject of frequent natural disturbances due to being located on unstable ground on steep slopes, and thus constitute a very interesting study system. We hypothesized that the low intensity forest management that was commonplace until recently outside protected areas had an effect similar to natural disturbances of low to moderate magnitudes.

The first scientific paper based on data from the Forest Database of Southern Poland has just been published in the open access Forests journal. The paper entiteled Changes in Species Composition in Alder Swamp Forest Following Forest Dieback presents study based on a vegetation resurvey made after 20 years in alder swamp forest in SW Poland. Between the old (1993) and the newer (2013) studies a forest dieback occurred and caused profound changes in the habitat conditions. The study examined how these changes influenced plant species composition and discusses this in the context of specific dynamics of alder swamps.

A new Android app for vegetation plot sampling has been recently released and is now freely available in the Google Playstore. The app was designed by Sebastian Schmidtlein from the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT). The app is user-friendly thanks to a simple and very intuitive interface with a smooth performance. It enables the recording of sampling plot location using the built-in GPS in your Android device. Not only are geographic coordinates recorded, but also a horizontal accuracy of the measurement based on the information from a GPS/GLONASS receiver. In addition, photographs documenting the plot can also be attached. But probably the most interesting, the VegApp will enable you to export your data directly to the Turboveg application.  

A Short Database Report about the Forest Database of Southern Poland has been just published in the Phytocoenologia journal. This type of publication is to promote new emerging sources of vegetation-plot data that are registered in GIVD. A short database report contains a short database description in the form of an abstract. It also contains a core element of a standardized GIVD Fact Sheet.

 

Starting from May 2018, the phytosociological data stored in the Forests Database of Southern Poland can be also accessed from the European Vegetation Archive (EVA). The EVA is an initiative of the European Vegetation Survey aimed at establishing and maintaining a single data repository of vegetation-plot observations from Europe and adjacent areas to facilitate the use of these data for non-commercial purposes, mainly academic research and applications in nature conservation and ecological restoration.

High spatial accuracy is the main principle of the data stored in the Forests Database of Southern Poland. This data can be presented in a modern and attractive fashion on the web. The geoportal was established to present the distribution of all documented vegetation plots on an interactive map. 

Forest Database of Southern Poland was registered in Global Index of Vegetation-Plot Databases (GIVD) with its own ID (EU-PL-003) as third database from Poland. GIVD is a meta-database which provides an overview of existing vegetation-plot databases worldwide.