Ecological Concepts and Diversity of Old-Growth Forests

Author: Spies, Thomas A.

Source: Journal of Forestry, Volume 102, Number 3, April/May 2004 , pp. 14-20(7)

Publisher: Society of American Foresters

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An ecological understanding of old-growth requires a multiscale perspective, ranging from individual trees to regions. A consensus on a single general ecological definition of old-growth will never be reached, but that should not preclude the development of specific definitions needed by managers. Old-growth forests share many attributes, such as spatial heterogeneity, but they also differ in many ways. Given the complexity and dynamics of forests, efforts to conserve biodiversity must be sensitive to the diversity of old-growth forests and must consider forests of all developmental stages, not just old-growth. One implication is that forest policies and management practices may need to be as diverse as the old-growth forests they address.

Keywords: biodiversity; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; policy

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: Research Forester and Team Leader Ecosystem Processes Program, Pacific Northwest Research Station USDA Forest Service 3200 SW Jefferson Way Corvallis OR 97331, Email:

Publication date: April 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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