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Forests’ life cycle (sometimes referred to as “sylvogenetic cycle” or more commonly as “forest dynamics”) comprises several stages along a time line, from its early establishment to maturity and senescence. When observed at the landscape level, a forest in a favourable conservation status should have a mosaic of several or all of these stages.

However, due to the intensity of human uses in the Mediterranean forests since time immemorial, there are very few remaining examples of old-growth forests, free from human interference. In certain types of forests probably there are none such old-growth remnants.

Action B3 is aimed at implementing a protocol for the identification of old-growth (or near-old-growth) forests, which could be used as a reference for assessing the conservation status of the diverse forest habitats in Spain:

  • STAGE 1 – Prospection: It requires a short description, with qualitative or semiquantitative indicators, that can be easily fulfilled by trained personnel. It will be executed by forest specialists and rangers in a first approach to identify candidate forests. As a model, the Regional Government of Aragon’s procedure is proposed.
  • STAGE 2 – Characterization: Quantitative indicators about the forest’s structural properties and human impacts will be deployed to characterize each candidate forest. This work involves taking measurements on the field. Proposed field procedures can be downloaded. In addition, there is a specific procedure that has been proposed for quantifying the amount of dead wood.

Results from this characterization work throughout Spain are compiled, organized in a data base, and made available for all EUROPARC-España members, so that a national Network of Reference Forests is established. Advances in this Network can be checked here.

The implementation of this action is supported by a conceptual-framework document about the value of old-growth forests. Technical vocabulary and concepts are provided, according to the consensus developed by the Forests Working Group of EUROPARC-Spain.


Stage 0

Stage 1

Stage 2