What is old growth forest?
Though there are old groves of subalpine firs, and huge trees amid the temperate rain forest in the park, when scientists use the term old growth, they are usually referring to Douglas-fir/western hemlock forests with these characteristics: • Trees older than about 200 years • Abundant downed wood on the ground • A multi-layered canopy • Standing dead trees called snags Value of the Forest What is the value of a tree, a forest? A tree might have so many board feet and thus be worth a certain amount to a homebuilder. Or a tree might be the only in the area with branches wide enough for a marbled murrelet to lay her egg on. Or a group of trees might anchor the soil on a slope above a town, or above a drinking water supply. Or a tree and its neighbors might filter the air, taking in carbon dioxide we’ve added to our atmosphere and helping to store it harmlessly, locked up in its woody tissue. In Olympic, you can walk the lowland forest and answer that question for yourself. Where To See L
The 1992 National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS) provided a strategy to reserve old growth forest and also provided a framework for developing nationally agreed criteria. The NFPS defines old growth as: “Forest that is ecologically mature and has been subjected to negligible unnatural disturbance such as logging, roading and clearing. The definition focuses on forest in which the upper stratum or overstorey is in the late to over mature growth phases.” The Joint Implementation sub-committee (JANIS 1997) developed this definition further to form one that is nationally operational. They defined old growth as: “Old growth forest is ecologically mature forest where the effects of disturbance are now negligible.” www.calm.wa.gov.au/forest_facts/old_growth.html Visit the Department of Conservation and Land Management site for an information page on old growth forest. Also see the Institute of Foresters of Australia website for further explanation.