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² ˲ Ͳ ² ˲ : в ̳ - , . , 1622 2013 ...

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In an attempt to understand, besides structural features, also the processes generating the old-growth status, we tested some new functional indicators of important processes characterizing natural forests: suppression length, life history and age structure indicators.

Among the best descriptors of forest old-growthness we found: mean age of the five oldest trees (chronological indicators); forest stature, basal area, established regeneration, density of large trees (living trees indicators); snag volume, coarse woody debris volume, density of medium-size snags (deadwood indicators). We analyzed their relative importance in informing about the old-growthness of forests. Several indicators are to be considered carefully, since strongly linked to site conditions, particularly to the biogeoclimatic context. Also past management can produce negative effects on some indicators. Our results stress the need to develop threshold/reference values of the best descriptors in relation to each bioclimatic unit, to describe the attaining of the old-growth status according to the biogeoclimatic context of each forest. Standardizing old-growth structural (e.g. large trees; volume and basal area; deadwood) and functional descriptors (longevity, forest turnover) by bioclimatic zones (e.g. ecoregions and altitudinal belts) as well as soil features (calcareous vs volcanic) provides a more accurate tool for management purposes. For instance large biomass stocks may be reached in a few decades in the most fertile low-elevation sites, while re-naturalization of high-mountain stands proceeds through slower dynamics and longer time frames. Further work is still needed in an effort to develop new indicators able to link old-growth patterns with the natural processes which generated such forest attributes. Integrating tree life history indicators, e.g. suppression length, tree growth patterns, age-DBH structure, could provide fundamental 102 information linking old-growth forests pattern and process. The bioclimatic context, by regulating ecosystem processes such as stand productivity, disturbance regime, realized longevity, and turnover rates, can be used to predict the recovery rate of natural structural attributes in secondary forests, and can be used to build a framework to understand and project climate change impacts on natural forests.

We selected a limited number of stands to be included into the transnational nomination of primeval and ancient beech forests of Europe.

Currently, our list of proposed sites consists of 9 stands, representing the best primeval/ancient forests that could be also good representatives of the Apennines chains ecological complexity. Sites were distributed along an latitudinal/altitudinal gradient: 4 high-mountain sites, 3 (Valle Cervara, Coppo del Principe, Coppo del Morto) included in the Abruzzo, Lazio & Molise National Park, plus Cozzo Ferriero in Southern Italy; 2 mountain sites, the oldgrowth forests of Sasso Fratino and Rosello; 4 low-elevation sites, the secondary old-growth forests of Monte Cimino, Monte Venere, Oriolo Romano, Foresta Umbra.

The high-mountain sites host the oldest and best conserved primeval beech forests in Italy. Valle Cervara, Coppo del Principe and Coppo del Morto are located inside the Abruzzo, Lazio & Molise National Park (central Italy), Cozzo Ferriero is in the Pollino National Park (south Italy). All sites are growing on limestone substrates, at altitudes ranging from 1500 to 1900 m asl.

Their climate regime can be described as Mediterranean montane, with cold snowy winters and dry summers. These forests escaped logging because of their difficult access and probably even because of their protective function against avalanches and landslides. Valle Cervara is currently the only example of primary old-growth forest known for the Italian peninsula and hosts, together with Coppo del Morto, the oldest beech trees reported for the northern hemisphere, with several individuals exceeding 500 years (maximum sampled age: 560 yrs) (Figure 1). Coppo del Principe also show very high levels of naturalness: according to historical records and dendroecological evidences, there are no signs of past loggings at least in the last 200 years. Cozzo Ferriero is the most southern old-growth beech stand of the European network. Located in the Pollino National Park, it grows at the treeline in a refuge area, with tree reaching 350 years.

The mountain belt (the most impacted by man in Central Italy) hosts two examples of old-growth forests in Italy, important remnants of the original mountain mixed Fagus sylvatica-Abies alba forests of mountain areas, now extremely rare in S Europe.

The strict reserve of Sasso Fratino is located in the central-northern part of the Apennines in the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona & Campigna National Park. Thanks to the limited accessibility and long history of careful forest management, anthropic impact have been very low in this area. Biogeographically important for being on the Temperate/Mediterranean transition zone, this forest has its own floristic identity. Rosello, a regional nature reserve in Abruzzo, is an important refuge area, important for woody species biodiversity (high diversity of trees and shrubs). Uncut in the last 50-60 years, it hosts a magnificent beech-fir forest with very tall trees of fir.

   

Three low-elevation sites are ancient old-growth beech forests in Central Italy growing on volcanic soils: Monte Cimino, Monte Venere and Oriolo Romano. These forests, located at the lowest elevation in the Southern part of the species range, are the most endangered by the incipient climatic change. In addition, they are isolated cores of beech forest within a highly fragmented, altered landscape, with reduced gene flux from the main bulk of beech populations on the Apennines mountains. These old-growth forests on volcanic soils were exploited until 40-50 decades ago but, thanks to site fertility, they have shown a surprisingly fast restoration of high biomass stocks and 104 naturalness attributes after the end of logging. As a consequence of past management and fast turnover rates at low-elevation, such stands are not characterized by very old trees, as the maximum age of individuals can slightly exceed 200 years. However, new canopy gaps are widespread throughout these stands, even if dominant dead trees have no remarkable age (100-200 yrs). All are evolving from an impressive single-layer canopy (especially Monte Cimino, where trees can reach 50 m in height) to a multi-aged structure thanks to gaps opened by the fallen trees. The Oriolo Romano forest is located at the lowest elevation for the species (400-500 m asl). It is included in the Regional Natural Park Lago di Bracciano & Martignano. The Foresta Umbra beech forest is important for its peculiar biogeographic position, not only for being at low elevation (750 m asl) in Southern Italy, because Gargano promontory is an isolated mountain descending to the Adriatic Sea, characterized by compressed vegetation belts. The old-growth core, included in a strict reserve (since the 50s) of the Gargano National Park, is represented by an old-growth stand, buffered by a large beech forest (about 400 ha) growing on calcareous soils.

To adopt a large scale biogeographical approach for studying old-growth forests, its necessary to account for bioclimate when comparing different sites. High-elevation forests have the highest degree of naturalness, with very old trees and a well-developed structure (rotated sigmoid or j-shaped), with living/dead trees indices within the thresholds reported for temperate oldgrowth forests. Dendrochronological indicators (e.g. maximum tree age, mean age of the five oldest trees in the stand) testify how these stands are close to a status of primary old-growthness. They can indeed be taken as representatives of the primeval beech forests on the Apennines. Towards lower elevation, human impact increased and structures were more altered. Nonetheless, some remnants were conserved, showing quick recovery of the old-growth status, especially at lower elevations where turnover rates are faster. Mountain and low-elevation stands can show high living and dead biomass, but their structure is still under development (bimodal DBH distribution) and the chronological indicators show lower lifespan.

Our identified ancient/primeval beech stands have the potential to represent the ongoing ecological processes in the refuge areas of the beech range, where live the oldest beech trees and the restoration of structural oldgrowth attributes is very fast.




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, . , Dovhanych Y.O., Dovhanych V.Y. Red deer within the scope of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserves activity. Situation with Red deer within the scope of Carpathian Biosphere Reserves activity (number and influence factors) is analyzed.

Recommendations on improvement of the situation are given.

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