Am Ost- und Westrand Eurasiens - ein vegetationsökologischer Vergleich
[On the eastern and western edge of Eurasia - an ecological comparison]
The natural vegetation and climate of the Japanese islands may briefly be described as being throughout humid, and reaching boreal and subtropical conditions. In western Europe and Africa, however, there is a very broad and differentiated zonation from humid to almost arid ecosystems. The main reasons for this fundamental distinction are direction and temperature of the ocean currents. Other ecological differences between Japan and atlantic Europe-Africa and their causes are also discussed, e.g. vegetation dynamics. Regarding vegetation history under human influence, the most striking feature is the low intensity, or even absence, of woodland pasturage on most of the Japanese islands. Thus large mountainous areas remained up to now in a fairly natural state, whereas Europe and Africa suffered from forest devastation and soil erosion during thousands of years.