A forest lifespan can be viewed as an endless cycle from the establishment of the first seedlings, with their subsequent growth and the canopy gradually closing over, to the death and collapse of the oldest trees, opening gaps where it all begins anew. The full cycle may take several centuries, and suffer alterations from events such as forest fires or other major disturbances.
This cycle is artificially shortened by silviculture, keeping the forests at its more juvenile phases, so as to ensure a constant supply of wood. This is why old or very old stands are so rare.
A new forestry management approach, geared toward conservation, is needed for Mediterranean woodlands within the Natura 2000 Network. These new management strategies should give priority to the protection of mature stands and the promotion of the most scarce or currently non-existent features of maturity (such as deadwood, heterogeneity, species diversity, etc.). In other types of forests, oriented toward production rather than biodiversity, silviculture may also be used to boost forest maturity, so that harvesting forest resources can be compatible with higher levels of biodiversity.