Canadian Forest Service Publications

Attributes and indicators of old-growth and successional Douglas-fir forests on Vancouver Island. 2003. Trofymow, J.A.; Addison, J.A.; Blackwell, B.A.; He, F.; Preston, C.M.; Marshall, V.G. Environmental Reviews 11: S187-S204.

Year: 2003

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 22913

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

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The Douglas-fir forests of coastal British Columbia are within the most heavily modified forest ecosystem types in coastal BC and local land managers are developing new forestry practices to retain elements of old growth within the managed forest area. To determine how successful these practices are requires the selection and monitoring of appropriate attributes and knowledge on how they change with stand development. In this paper we summarize previously published results from an extensive data set on four Douglas-fir dominated sites located on eastern Vancouver Island. Data were collected as part of the Coastal Forest Chronosequences project which was addressing questions on (1) how does conversion to managed forests impact species and forest structural diversity and (2) how does this diversity recover in older second-growth stands. Each site contained four stands, a postharvest chronosequence: regeneration (R, 5–10 years), immature (I, 25–45 years), and maturing (M, 75–95 years) stands, and an old growth (O, >240 years) control stand. Over 20 attributes are summarized including structural attributes, and at three sites, detailed biodiversity and process attributes. All old-growth plots exceeded the minimum age criteria and some but not all of the minimum structural attribute criteria for old-growth Douglas-fir forests in the US Pacific Northwest, reflecting regional or site type differences. Most structural attributes showed their greatest change within the first 100 years, although older stands (M and O) still differed based on tree and snag sizes and tree mass or basal area. Most species abundance and richness attributes and process attributes clearly differentiated R from the forested stages but were of less value for differentiating among older (M and O) stands. Arboreal lichen abundance and species richness; the abundance of cryptogams, achlorophyllus plants, litter collembola, and specific species of fungi and carabids; litter fall and gap fraction were the exception, these attributes clearly differentiating M from O stands. In postharvest stands, the overall pattern of change with succession for most attributes, as inferred from the chronosequence, was confirmed to be very different from a previously published conceptual model for post-fire succession. Compared to the post-fire model, the greatest changes in the postharvest stands occurred early in stand development, associated with canopy closure. Although stand structural attributes can clearly be used to distinguish old-growth features in managed forest stands, none-the-less it is important to monitor and demonstrate, at least for a selection of nonstructural attributes, that forestry practices are effective in maintaining biodiversity and associated processes of old-growth forests in the managed forest area.