What is forest maturity?
Within the forest, the mature stands are those fragments of forest that have remained untouched by human intervention, following their own natural evolution process. In the ageing process, these stands acquire singular features:
1. Very big and very old trees that offer shelter
These stands contain exceptional trees, giants of over 1 metre in diameter. These trees play an essential ecological role. Their advanced age has given them a multitude of hollows and cracks that are populated by hundreds of species of fungi and lichens, as well as birds, bats and insects.
2. Forest gaps that enable regeneration
Minor disturbances (such as the collapse of big trees) open up gaps in the forest canopy letting in more sunlight. In these gaps, the forest recommences its regeneration process.
3. Deadwood, standing and lying on the ground
Dead trees, whether they remain standing or their massive trunks lie on the forest floor, are the habitat of a multitude of species specialised in decomposing wood. This deadwood is usually cleared away in forests dedicated to timber production, but mature forests contain abundant deadwood, coarse or small, and at different stages of decomposition.
4. Trees of different sizes and a variety of species
In managed timber-producing forests, trees of all ages are rarely found together. In old-growth stands, however, individuals of all different ages coexist, from the youngest to their great hundred-year-old ancestors. Trees and shrubs of different species mix together in a more complete and varied ecosystem. And also, more importantly, more resistant to alterations due to climate change.
|Mediterranean Old-Growth Forests: Characteristics and Management Criteria in Protected Areas||Old-growth forests: characteristics and conservation value||Mature Forests. Frequently asked questions|