Knowledge gaps and research needs
There have been few scientific studies of older forests outside the Pacific Northwest, and there is still much to learn even in that region. Early notions held that older forests were “decadent” and produced little of human value. It was considered good management to replace them as quickly as possible with young, “vigorous” forests. Now that pioneering research has shown that older forests have important roles to play in biodiversity, aesthetics, and carbon sequestration, as well as serving as spiritual exemplars of the majesty of nature, it’s time to examine them in detail from the perspectives of all who benefit from them. We need to know more about their physiological and ecological processes and their interactions with humans. We need to know how to conserve the entire forest cycle that produces and maintains older forests. We need to know what kinds and levels of disturbance by human and natural sources older forests need and can tolerate. The most urgent research need is to get a better picture of the state and quantity of older forests in each region. The next most urgent task is to produce integrated management protocols to ameliorate the threats to older forests and to insure their continuity on the landscape.
This is a chapter from Beyond Old Growth (report).
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