Old Growth, Growing for the Future
Kentucky Heartwood is pleased to announce our web project, www.KentuckyOldgrowth.org. The website is “Dedicated to the past, present, and future of old-growth forests in Kentucky.”
This work in progress features information, photos, and maps of a growing number of old-growth forests in Kentucky and other forests containing numerous old-growth trees. In the coming months, additional material will build the website into a resource for information on old-growth ecology and recovery. And we hope that the forum becomes an interactive place for people to share information and ask questions.
Many people are fascinated by old-growth forests, but with so little remaining in Kentucky and the rest of the eastern U.S., few people have the opportunity to see or learn about them. Education about our old-growth forests, and what makes them special and different from younger forests, is important as we look toward the conservation and recovery of old-growth in our region. We hope the website helps in this effort.
Old-growth forests are known for and identified by a suite of structural characteristics that distinguish them from younger forests. The most obvious of these are large and old trees. Other characteristics include multiple age classes, layering and gaps in the canopy, greater amounts of downed rotting wood, and large snags. Each of these characteristics adds a layer of complexity that lends to the forest’s richness and beauty.
When forests are heavily logged the structure of the forest changes radically. Over time, however, the processes of stand development, succession, and natural disturbance can move the forest through several developmental phases, arriving again at an old-growth condition.