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Book Chapter

Old-Growth Forests: Function, Fate and Value - an Overview


Wirth,  Christian
Research Group Organismic Biogeochemistry, Dr. C. Wirth, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;


Gleixner,  Gerd
Molecular Biogeochemistry Group, Dr. G. Gleixner, Department Biogeochemical Processes, Prof. E.-D. Schulze, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;


Heimann,  Martin
Department Biogeochemical Systems, Prof. M. Heimann, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Wirth, C., Gleixner, G., & Heimann, M. (2009). Old-Growth Forests: Function, Fate and Value - an Overview. In C. Wirth, G. Gleixner, & M. Heimann (Eds.), Old-Growth Forests (pp. 1-8). Berlin: Springer.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-D939-7
The introductory chapter commences with a historical perspective on how forest landscapes and human perceptions of primary and old-growth forests have changed over the centuries. Once considered ugly and hostile, old-growth forests have turned into tourist attractions. In many western countries old-growth forest have virtually disappeared. With their disappearance we have lost specialised plants and animals, unique ecosystem services, and an important reference point for ecological research. In the second part, the individual chapters are briefly introduced and their relationships with other chapters highlighted. The book is divided into six parts: Part I (three chapters) serves as an introduction and lays the definitional foundation for the subsequent chapters. Part II (five chapters) is devoted to aboveground processes ranging from deadwood dynamics to canopy fluxes. Part III (four chapters) reviews belowground processes and covers the topics of root, nutrient and soil carbon dynamics. Part IV (five chapters) presents regional accounts for tropical forest, temperate forests in Europe, North and South America and the Canadian boreal forest. Part V (three chapters) deals with the human dimensions including the effect of land-uses, and technical and political strategies for old-growth protection. Part VI concludes the book with a synthesis chapter.