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ŠUMARSKI LIST 7-8/2021 str. 38     <-- 38 -->        PDF

Dalmatia, and a proof of the care they had for woodlands. A decree published during the Austrian Empire in 1821 provides crucial information about sacred groves.7 According to this document, sacred groves were a French answer to the disastrous effects of damaging practices in Dalmatia such as digging of stumps, cutting of young trees, debarking and excessive pasture. The aim was to mitigate the consequences this had on the agriculture and overall economy of Dalmatia. Therefore, the French administration passed a regulation which mandated that ‘each village designates an area to be enclosed with a dry-stone wall for the purpose of establishing a woodland denominated as sacro.8 These woodlands were supposed to be protected from exploitation by the threat of severe punishments and, according to Grubić (1928), the goal was to establish a prosperous patch of woodland which would serve as a base from which woodland would further expand. 
According to the Giornale Della Società (1809, p. 338), Dandolo’s idea about sacred groves was implemented in 1807 and already by the following year 360 Dalmatian villages had designated an area for this type of woodland. A delegate letter from 1809 reveals that in the vicinity of Šibenik the communes of Rupe (Ruppe), Dubravica (Dubraviza), Bratiškovci (Bratiscovzi), Smrdelje (Smerdeglie), Piramatovci (Piramatovzi), Čista (Cista) and Sonković (Sonkovich) established their sacred groves over an area of ten Italian paces9 or more, while Bribir municipality could not stretch it over an area of more than five paces. Sacred groves existed in the coastal areas of Tisno, Mandalina, Oštrica and Pigrada as well.10 In the case of Oštrica and Prigrada south of Šibenik, they covered 20 campi 11 and 200 campi respectively, which translates to 5.5 ha and 55 ha. Marčić (1935) argued that these woodlands had to cover an area of 3.5 to 7 ha, but in reality, their extent varied considerably.
The existing vegetation in sacred groves was made up of locally found species and their main purpose was the provision of firewood. In the case of the eight mentioned hinterland villages trees and shrubs were oak (Quercus pubescens), manna ash (Fraxinus ornus), hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis), holm oak (Quercus ilex), mastic (Pistacia lentiscus) and terebinth trees (Pistacia terebinthus), olive (Olea europaea), wild cherry (Prunus avium), juniper (Juniperus) and thorny scrubland (itl. spine). The sacred grove on Oštrica peninsula provided wood from oaks, juniper and unspecified woodland in general, probably species commonly found in maquis. At Prigrada area, firewood was derived only from oak, juniper and ‘Pino selvatico’.12
Reforestation in these groves was a crucial part of their management and they represent evidence of very early organised reforestation.13 For instance, in sacred groves in the hinterland, both seeds and seedlings were planted among rocks in an effort to promote the growth of high-quality wood which would have been used for all kinds of construction. Tree species that were considered included lime (Tilia europaea), cypress (Cupressus pendula), catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and false acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia).14 Out of these, only cypress and lime grew in the area naturally while three were from North America. Seeds were also distributed among senior Captains in the communes by government inspectors, and instructions were provided to villagers on proper ways of managing the soil and irrigation in the case of drought (Grubić, 1928). The work itself was carried out by village volunteers but it required a knowledgeable professional to supervise the work.15 According to Grubić (1928), renewed hostilities between Austria and France increased the need for fuel and construction wood for the military and local administrations were obliged to help them procure this. As a result, much of Dandolo’s efforts were destroyed.
According to Kesterčanek (1882b), once the Austrians took control over Dalmatia ‘all French regulations and laws, even those benefiting our people, were abolished’ (p. 324) and consequently woodlands were completely neglected. Similar view was later adopted by Marčić (1935). However, Grubić (1928) argued that as far as woodland regulations were concerned, all measures that were implemented by the French were maintained. Archival sources from Šibenik confirm that, on a local level, French regulations were