During the last millennia, all forests of the Italian Alps have been heavily affected by human land-use. Consequently, forest structures have been modified, and there are no old growth remains. In the last decades, however, many forests have been withdrawn from regular management, because wood production was unprofitable, and left to develop naturally. At the same time, in currently managed forests, silvicultural systems able to develop or maintain old-growth characteristics are being required. The aim of this paper was to assess the status and developmental dynamics of old-growth characteristics in mixed beech, silver fir, and Norway spruce montane forests of the eastern Italian Alps. We selected along a naturalness gradient (a) three old-growth forests in Bosnia and Montenegro (due to the lack of old-growth forests in the Italian Alps), (b) two forests withdrawn from regular management for at least 50 years, and (c) three currently managed forests. In each forest, we analysed 17 structural attributes, in order to assess their value as indicators of old-growth condition. Old-growth forests were characterized by significantly higher amounts of live and dead biomass, share of beech in the dominant and regeneration layers, and number of large trees. The diameter distribution was best described as a rotated sigmoid, differently from currently and formerly managed forest. We discuss the differences in old-growth characteristics across the management gradient and use our results to evaluate the effectiveness of retention prescriptions currently applied in the studied regions in maintaining or promoting old-growth structural attributes in managed forests.
|Titolo:||Development of old-growth characteristics in uneven-aged forests of the Italian Alps|
|Parole Chiave:||Coarse woody debris; Forest structure; PCA; Retention forestry; Rotated sigmoid; Selection system; Forestry; Plant Science|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore AGR/05 - Assestamento Forestale e Selvicoltura|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2015|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1007/s10342-014-0830-6|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|