Thematic Map: Old Growth Forests

Thematic map Old Growth Forests contains data about the Old Growth Forests in the Carpathian Ecoregion.

Old growth forest are some of the largest remaining areas of virgin and natural forests in Europe. Old growth forests (including those called ancient, virgin or primeval) are complex systems of seedlings, young, mature and old trees dominated by very large, imposing trees. Dead trees and decaying logs are just as important as living trees. Old growth forests are critical to life on earth. They are home to almost nine out of ten land species of plants and animals, many of them endangered –like the brown bear, wolf and lynx, and others so unique that they amaze even scientists — like a 63-meter high fir tree recently found in Romania! Or like the standing volume of over 1500 m3 per hectare in Sinca forest, near Brasov. Old growth forests generate oxygen, lock up vast amounts of carbon and filter freshwater. Without them, we would lose our best teacher of maintaining forest surface in the context of climate change, as well as our connection to untouched nature. They also provide excellent information about the ecosystem resilience at different altitudes and climatic zones.

The more widely known groups of organisms, such as mammals, birds or plants, however, constitute only a small part of the species diversity of forests. It is the very small organism that predominate, especially invertebrates and fungi. If a forest is to be home to a complex of its typical species, it must contain a variety of micro-habitats. Old growth or virgin forests are best suited to this role because they are rich in big old trees or dead wood which are often absent in commercial forests. It is known that one third of all forest species depend on the occurrence of dead wood. Many of these species are listed as endangered species. Due to this fact, a sufficient amount of dead wood in forests is increasingly considered to be the key issue in maintaining biodiversity.

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