Posted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 12:41 pm
by KoutaR

The virgin forest reservation (16 km²) of Biogradska Gora National Park, Montenegro, consists of a mountain valley and surrounding mountains (up to 2117 metres). There is a small lake, Biogradsko Jezero, at the valley bottom (elev. 1100 m).


Biogradsko Lake. Biogradska Creek valley, where the other photos have been taken, is in the right center, towards the mountain top.

Soils are acid as they are underlain by silicate metamorphic rocks instead of limestone which dominates much of the western Balkans. Annual precipitation is quite high, approx. 2 200 mm. There is no drought period despite the Mediterranean rainfall distribution, with most rain falling outside the growing season. The forest in this park is one of the few true old-growth forests remaining in Europe outside Russia and Fennoscandia. The area has been protected since 1878, when the forest was already old.

The tree flora consists mainly of species common in Central Europe. The most common tree species are European beech (Fagus sylvatica), European silver fir (Abies alba) and Norway spruce (Picea abies), on the valley bottom and around the lake also sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus). At the end of the lake around the delta of an inflowing creek (Biogradska Rijeka), there is lush moist forest composed mainly of European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and grey alder (Alnus incana), with leaf butterbur (Petasites hybridus) dominating the understorey.


Moist grey alder dominated forest. Also sycamore maple, center, with scaly bark, and an ash sapling, left foreground. Leaf butterbur in the understorey.

Between this moist forest and the lake there is a still wetter area, seasonally flooded each year, with stands of white willow (Salix alba). Other tree species include Norway maple (Acer platanoides), wych elm (Ulmus glabra), large-leaved linden (Tilia platyphyllos) and goat willow (Salix caprea). According to the national park information, 86 tree species have been found in the park but this is a translation error: they mean woody species including shrubs.

Kouta explored this park in 2008 but without a rangefinder or even a tape. His recollections about tree heights were not very good. He thought the trees he saw were not extremely tall but we found in this park two new height records. They are: sycamore maple 40.6 meters (133 ft., this tree was dead but still standing) and wych elm 40.4 m (133 ft.).


This is Jeroen's photo. 40.6-meter sycamore maple. The other mossy trunks are also sycamore maples. Also beech, right, silver firs, left background, and hazel (Corylus avellana), the shrub left from the big maple. Wild garlic (Allium ursinum) covers the ground.


40.4-meter double-trunked wych elm. The second trunk to right backwards. Also silver fir, left, and ash, right. Biogradska Creek is behind the firs.

We also found a 39.2-meter (129 ft) large-leaved linden which was the height record at the time, but after our trip a 41.6-meter (136 ft) large-leaved linden has been found in France by a French measurer. The tallest tree we found was 59-meter (194 ft.) Norway spruce. It is not located on the valley bottom but on a lower NE facing slope. It was noticed as a tree top emerging above other trees.


This is Jeroen's photo. 59-meter Norway spruce, top left. To the left from it: silver fir. The conifers to the right from the tallest spruce are also Norway spruces. Also sycamore maple, right.

The thickest tree was the biggest spruce Kouta found in 2008. The photo below is from Kouta’s 2008 trip.


The largest Norway spruce. Silver fir foliage, right.

Its circumference at different heights:
At 1.3 m: 671 cm
At 1.5 m: 631 cm
At 2.2 m: 503 cm
At 2.6 m: 480 cm (above the buttresses)
We estimated its volume as 40-50 cubic meters. Kouta had originally thought it was not very tall, but it was actually the third tallest tree we measured in Biogradska Gora, 56.2 m. Below it from another perspective.


Jeroen admires the largest Norway spruce. The other big Norway spruce, left center, is 56.0 m tall and 540 cm around. Also beeches (pale trunks) and sycamore maples (mossy trunks). The conifer saplings are silver firs except the nearest one, which is Norway spruce. Biogradska Creek is behind the big spruces.

The second tallest was also a Norway spruce, 57.2 m. 54-55 m tall spruces were quite common. The tallest silver fir, we measured, was 53.6 m (176 ft.). We estimated its volume as approx. 35 cubic meters.


53.6-meter silver fir. Other trees are silver firs and beeches.

We explored a good proportion of the valley bottom but as the tallest tree was growing on a slope there are good chances a more thorough exploration would reveal still taller trees, at least conifers.

The Biogradska gora part of Michael's travelogue can be read here:

Kouta, Jeroen & Michael

The tallest reliably measured sycamore maple is now 41.5 m (139 ft) tall: ... lle/12183/
The tallest reliably measured wych elm is now 44.0 m (144) tall: ... ten/28651/