Annals of Forest Science

, Volume 70, Issue 3, pp 277–285 | Cite as

A new method for the identification of old-growth trees in National Forest Inventories: application to Pinus halepensis Mill. stands in Spain

  • Iciar Alberdi
  • Isabel Cañellas
  • Laura Hernández
  • Sonia Condés
Original Paper

Abstract

Context

Old-growth trees play a very important role in the maintenance of biodiversity in forests. However, no clear definition is yet available to help identify them since tree age is usually not recorded in National Forest Inventories.

Aims

To develop and test a new method to identify old-growth trees using a species-specific threshold for tree diameter in National Forest Inventories.

Methods

Different nonlinear mixed models for diameter–age were generated using data from the Spanish Forest Inventory in order to identify the most appropriate one for Aleppo pine in its South-western distribution area. The asymptote of the optimal model indicates the threshold diameter for defining an old-growth tree. Additionally, five site index curves were examined to analyze the influence of site quality on these models.

Results

The Hossfled III mixed model was found to be the most appropriate to fit diameter–age curves for Aleppo pine trees. The overall diameter at breast height threshold for old-growth trees was 40.6 cm, although over a range of sites with increasing site quality, the threshold figure was 36.0, 38.0, 40.4, 43.1, and 46.3 cm, respectively.

Conclusions

This method allows the identification of old-growth trees and therefore of biodiversity hotspots, thus providing decision makers with a useful tool for management purposes.

Keywords

Tree age Forest biodiversity Diameter–age relationship NFI 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Roberto Vallejo and Vicente Sandoval of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment for kindly providing access to the full Spanish NFI data sets. We are particularly grateful to Guillermo Gea-Izquierdo, for his help and comments. We also want to express our thanks to the TRAGSA field teams of the National Forest Inventory and to the CIFOR-INIA technicians involved in the tree ring analysis for all their effort. We also thank Adam Collins for his help in editing this paper.

Funding

This research was supported by the AEG-09-007 agreement of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (MAGRAMA) and the AGL2010-21153.00.01 project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN).

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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Iciar Alberdi
    • 1
  • Isabel Cañellas
    • 1
  • Laura Hernández
    • 1
  • Sonia Condés
    • 2
  1. 1.Dpto. Selvicultura y Gestión de los Sistemas ForestalesINIA-CIFORMadridSpain
  2. 2.Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de MontesUniversidad Politécnica de MadridMadridSpain

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