Old forests are native forests which have connotations of maturity, venerable age, primitive origins or lack of disturbance by modern technology.
These elements may be combined – for example in wilderness forests with an overstorey of senescent trees and many species with a long evolutionary lineage. Such forests include old-growth eucalypt forests and rainforests in remote regions of Tasmania. However, in many places (in Tasmania and elsewhere), old-growth forests are scarce, because of widespread disturbance by humans (e.g. logging and clearing) or natural events (e.g. fire and insect attack). In such places, forests approaching maturity, or simply containing large trees, might also be considered as ‘old forests’.
Many values – biodiversity, aesthetic, cultural, economic – are associated with old forests. A large proportion of the world’s organisms and a small proportion of its people are forest dwellers. We all use tangible forest resources (such as timber and paper), but don’t always recognise the less tangible contributions made by forests to the well-being of this planet. Pressure on native forests is increasing under the weight of population growth, economic forces and environmental changes. It is time to bring new ideas, new research and new systems of management to the old forests of the world. That is what this conference is about.
Old forests in temperate and boreal regions are places of great beauty and importance to people. These forests are often managed for conservation and biodiversity value and as an important resource for timber floors production, so their management has inevitably become subject to a range of societal pressures. Current management practices for old forests are increasingly informed by an understanding of the disturbance events that trigger forest regeneration. Research from several long-term experimental sites now allows a fresh look at ecologically-based silviculture in forests managed for wood production.
DEGREES OF NATURALNESS— DEFINITIONS
Original forest ( virgin forest) in a loose (and today more frequently used) concept this is a forest more or less unaffected by humans, where both tree species composition and spatial structure correspond to site conditions to the potential natural vegetation. The term of original forest can also be used for stands were affected by a man in the past but the human intervention had no influence on it is losing the of natural development trajectory MM traces of such an – e.g. creaming of individual tree more than a hundred years ago. The term “virgin forest” can be identified with the tern “original forest”. It should be pointed out, however, that use of the term “virgin forest” has become rather a habitual connexion with the designation of some forest stands that are in realty natural or near-natural forests.
Natural forest – is a forest that comes to existence by natural processes but that was affected by humans in the past (especially by creaming and grazing, not by sowing or planting). It is species composition and spatial and age structure to great extent correspond to site conditions but may exhibit some local deviation clue to e.g. spontaneous development in altered conditions (e.g. after stumping of some forest parts In the Middle Ages and their long-term leaving to spontaneous development, due to a long-term impact of game overpopulation etc.).
Near-natural forest, a forest whose species composition to a great extent corresponds to site conditions but whose spatial structure is simpler than in the original forest. these forest stands were coming to existence under the influence of humans and their condition could have been achieved also consciously by man. Their development was long directed and traces of this direction and still apparent (haulage of deadwood, logging, tending measures, etc.).