European ENTS in Heilige Hallen, Germany

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KoutaR
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European ENTS in Heilige Hallen, Germany

Post by KoutaR » Wed May 12, 2010 3:06 pm

ENTS,

The first rendezvous of "the European department of the ENTS" was held in "Heilige Hallen", Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany on May 9, 2010. Besides Jeroen and me, a Dutch friend of Jeroen was also present.

The core zone of Heilige Hallen (Holy Halls) is considered the oldest beech (Fagus sylvatica) forest of Germany. However, it is not a primeval forest as it is known that the site was not forested during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), after which forest has regrown. In 1850 the forest was approximately 150 years old and in the late optimal phase, and Grand Duke Georg von Mecklenburg-Strelitz protected 25.7 ha (63.5 acres) of the impressive forest "for all the times". Since then, there has been no wood cutting, but there has been some dead wood use until 1950.

The original beeches are now dying, the tall canopy is open, and in the canopy gaps there are dense stockings of young beech. In the home page of the Heilige Hallen and in many books it is said the tallest trees are over 50 metres (164 ft) tall. As the measuring methods are not known, our primary goal was to find the real current maximum height of the stand with Nikon 550 instruments. We found two trees 43 m (141 ft) tall (43.0 m and 42.8 m), several trees 42 m tall and a lot of trees about 40 m tall. Measuring was difficult because the beech leaves were already almost fully developed. Thus, we perhaps did not find the very tallest twigs, although I noticed Jeroen has a great ability to see immediately which one of the branches is in the greatest height (perhaps it is called experience...). We concluded that although it is possible that there are trees a little bit taller than 43 m, 50 m is definitely too much at the moment. There is an old signboard (Jeroen photographed it) telling that the tallest tree is 52 m (171 ft) tall. Perhaps the height information in all the books and www-sites derive from the signboard. However, we think the forest has certainly been taller in the past. The original tops of about all the big trees are now either broken or dead. I measured one approx. 10 cm (4'') thick dead branch in the height of 41 metres (134 ft); thus, the tree has had to be many metres taller in the past. But how much taller...

There was small amount of Carpinus betulus saplings. We did not see any other tree species (besides the beech). Understory under the canopy was sparse to non-existent, which is a common situation in F. sylvatica forests.

We both realized, indepently and almost immediately, that if one only searches the branches 40 metres from the forest floor, beauty of the forest may be missed!

The books say, the oldest beeches in the reserve are +300 years old. Jeroen suspected they would be much younger, but after our meeting I realized it could still be true: If the stand was already in 1850 so impressive that the Grand Duke wanted to protect it for all the times, the original trees have now to be at least 300 years old.

References:

- Sperber & Thierfelder (2005): Urwälder Deutschlands.
- http://www.denudation.de/geographie/polen99/hhallen.htm


I think Jeroen is now still in northern Germany and is probably not yet able to write his comments.

One week before the Heilige Hallen meeting, I had pleasure to meet Ellen and Doug Bidlack and Doug's relatives in Hainich National Park, Thüringen, Germany. Perhaps Doug will write about his forest experiences in Germany after returning home.

Kouta
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The thickest beech we measured. Its DBH is 148 cm (4.86 ft). We did not measure its height because it had lost its top.
The thickest beech we measured. Its DBH is 148 cm (4.86 ft). We did not measure its height because it had lost its top.

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edfrank
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Re: European ENTS in Heilige Hallen

Post by edfrank » Wed May 12, 2010 3:47 pm

Kouta,

It is nice to read about a meeting of the European ENTS community. The beeches at around 140 feet tall are quite nice. The tallest American Beech (Fagus grandiflora) we have measured here (in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and nearby Savage Gulf Natural Area in TN at 142.8 (43.5 m) and 143. 2 feet (43.6 m) respectively.

Perhaps there might have been trees as tall as 171 in the park at one time. I must comment however that if you look at the tops of almost any tree 200+ years old you will see that they all have broken tops, often dead trunks, and multiple tops where branches have upturned to form new tops. the presence of broken tops are not necessarily indicators that former heights were much taller than they are presently. The other thing to consider is how far the supposedly taller trees would have stuck up out of the height of the general canopy. Here in Pennsylvania we see white pines (Pinus strobus) sticking up perhaps 20 feet or so above the general height of the surrounding canopy. The tops of these pine trees are very flexible and can stand the stress from winds without frequent breaking, but still they rarely reach higher than this above the general canopy before they are broken back by the wind. Then they start the process over again. Are these beech trees exceptionally flexible? Here in the US I think the American Beech trees are much less flexible than the pine trees, and they rarely form the upper reaches of the canopy. I can't think of examples where they not only are the tallest in the canopy, but extend above the general canopy height of the surrounding forests. There may be situations where this is true, but I am not familiar with any.

I wonder if these tallest beech trees were 10 meters taller than the ones you found, does that mean the overall canopy was much higher than it is currently? Does it mean that the tree stuck out that far above a canopy of similar height to what you found today? or does that mean that the height has been exaggerated in the measurement? To me the latter option seems the most likely. It is much easier to mis-measure a broad crowned tree than one that comes to a point like many conifers. It is possible that the trees did indeed reach 171 feet, but I would need to see some evidence in the form of a transit measurement or other technique that could produce accurate results from some time in the past.

Thank you for the post.

Ed Frank
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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KoutaR
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Re: European ENTS in Heilige Hallen

Post by KoutaR » Wed May 12, 2010 4:51 pm

Ed,

A dead top does not necessarily mean the tree was previously much taller. I think the tallest Douglas-fir of the world has a dead top and it was 1% taller with a live top. I think there have been taller trees because 1. there are relatively thick dead branches at the tops of the trees, and 2. the forest is now composed mainly of young and much lower trees, and therefore the current tall trees stuck out relatively far above the main canopy. When more old trees were standing alive, the main canopy was taller and the extreme trees needed to stuck out less above the main canopy than now still being taller than the current top trees. Anyway, we both think 52m=171ft is still too much. If I remember correctly, Jeroen thought the tallest trees could have reached 46-47 m (151-154 ft). I have no opinion how tall they could have been.

Kouta

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edfrank
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Re: European ENTS in Heilige Hallen

Post by edfrank » Wed May 12, 2010 5:00 pm

Kouta,

i was not saying that a dead top meant the tree was previously much taller. Also, even if the trees present when it was established as a park in the 1850's are now dead, there is no good reason I can see that they would have been taler than the trees that have since replaced them. The canopy height should be pretty much a steady state condition as individual trees are lost and then replaced.

Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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James Parton
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Re: European ENTS in Heilige Hallen

Post by James Parton » Thu May 13, 2010 12:15 am

Kouta,

Awesome report. Hopefully your small European ENTS community will grow and proliferate.

James
James E Parton
Ovate Course Graduate - Druid Student
Bardic Mentor
New Order of Druids

http://www.druidcircle.org/nod/index.ph ... Itemid=145

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KoutaR
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Re: European ENTS in Heilige Hallen

Post by KoutaR » Thu May 13, 2010 6:02 am

edfrank wrote:i was not saying that a dead top meant the tree was previously much taller.
Ed, I see slight problems in our linguistic interface. I meant: "Yes, you are right, a dead top does not necessarily mean the tree was previously much taller."

edfrank wrote:The canopy height should be pretty much a steady state condition as individual trees are lost and then replaced.
I notice you think as the forest would be an absolutely uneven-aged primeval forest. Remember the forest has regrown after abandonment during relatively short period in the second half of 1600s. Consequently, 100 years ago the forest was more even-aged and the canopy more closed than that of primeval beech forest, and now as the big trees are at their age limit, the canopy is more open than that of primeval beech forest. According Sperber&Thierfelder (2005), the opening of the canopy has occurred increasingly since 1950. The photo below shows one face of Heilige Hallen today: one old beech surrounded completely by young ones. There are also areas with regeneration only several meters tall; I did not photographed them but here you find one:

http://www.fotocommunity.de/pc/pc/display/10421362

Kouta
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HHallen-forest1.jpg

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dbhguru
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Re: European ENTS in Heilige Hallen

Post by dbhguru » Thu May 13, 2010 6:48 am

Kouta and Jeroen,

Outstanding contribution to ENTS, simply outstanding. We can all agree that ENTS can also stand for European Native Tree Society. Regardless, the work that the two of you have done in this historic forest is itself historic in my view. I've always liked the European beech and want to know more about it. But to get data directly from its heartland is exciting. We look forward to more reports from the eastern front.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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edfrank
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Re: European ENTS in Heilige Hallen

Post by edfrank » Thu May 13, 2010 8:13 am

Kouta,

I am sure your English language usage is much superior to my failed attempts to learn German. I would like to install a German language set and several other language sets to this BBS but many of the add-ob modules use the basic British English language template and am not sure exactly what I would need to do to make some of them work with other language sets. I have been learning and have modified some of the Mods I have installed, so perhaps later this year I will attempt to add support for other languages.

You wrote:
I notice you think as the forest would be an absolutely uneven-aged primeval forest. Remember the forest has regrown after abandonment during relatively short period in the second half of 1600s. Consequently, 100 years ago the forest was more even-aged and the canopy more closed than that of primeval beech forest, and now as the big trees are at their age limit, the canopy is more open than that of primeval beech forest. According Sperber&Thierfelder (2005), the opening of the canopy has occurred increasingly since 1950. The photo below shows one face of Heilige Hallen today: one old beech surrounded completely by young ones. There are also areas with regeneration only several meters tall; I did not photographed them but here you find one:
I don't know exactly what to expect with regard to canopy height when a forest is changing from am even aged stand to and uneven aged stand with many of the trees dying off and being replaced. My first thought is that the canopy height of the secondary forest would be similar to that of the original even-aged forest. The new trees would need to grown to the same or similar height to compete for light with the older taller trees. Without good height measurements of the canopy of forests before and after such a transition, it is only speculation. The error in height ,measurements from distance/ tangent methods used in most forestry assessments would be in the range of 20 - 30 feet or 6 - 10 meters and likely would be mask or exceed any difference in the canopy height between the two canopy stages. I just don't know.

The other option to consider would be that a new forest starting from am area that was cut almost completely, might first grow taller as an even aged stand, then as trees died off and canopy openings form, and as the existing trees grow older and are exposed to wind and weather damage over longer periods of time, that the average height of the top of the canopy might decrease. ENTS people have measured stands in the Great Smokies in North Carolina where trees grown since the extensive cuttings on the mid 1800's have formed forests with canopy tops higher than nearby old growth forests that were not cut. This might suggest that the period of the tallest trees and overall highest canopy of a forest might be a transitional or temporary state that is reached after a reintiation event, or an event that restarted the forest, at maturity for the trees in an generally even aged stand, but prior to the widespread formation of canopy openings as it transitions to an uneven aged stand. I proposed this idea in the discussions of the GSMNP forests and it might also be applicable here.

In the Smokies the idea can be explored somewhat because there are forests ranging from young, to mature, to old growth forests growing in similar environmental conditions. In Heilige Hallen this is not really possible because it represents a single isolated stand.

Ed Frank
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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James Parton
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Re: European ENTS in Heilige Hallen

Post by James Parton » Thu May 13, 2010 9:52 am

Kouta,

I really enjoy your posts. They are among the best here in ENTS. Hopefully you and Jeroen can tell others of your work in ENTS and get them involved. Spread the word. It would be awesome to have an ENTS ( European Native Tree Society ) chapter in Europe. While you might not have as much old growth there as we do here in parts of the U.S.,I am sure there is much useful work there to be done. Both You and Jeroen do an awesome job and I always eagerly await your reports.

I do know of two European Beech trees here in Western North Carolina. Both are over 100 years old and are decent sized. They are awesome trees.

James
James E Parton
Ovate Course Graduate - Druid Student
Bardic Mentor
New Order of Druids

http://www.druidcircle.org/nod/index.ph ... Itemid=145

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KoutaR
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Re: European ENTS in Heilige Hallen

Post by KoutaR » Thu May 13, 2010 10:11 am

Ed, that what you wrote in your second last paragraph ("The other option to consider..."), that is exactly as I see the situation in Heilige Hallen today. Plus that now trees have no need to grow so tall as before because there is not so much competition for light in the canopy. Below still one photo more, showing one of the 43-meter beeches. I made a short video of the tree, and tried to attach the video here, but BBS does not allow .avi files. Therefore, I extracted four photos from the video and merged them together. The tree has lost its original crown but has then grown a new crown from a branch. You can see the crown is quite lone - there are mainly young trees around it.
43-meter beech *Fagus sylvatica) in in Heilige Hallen
43-meter beech *Fagus sylvatica) in in Heilige Hallen
James, I also hope other Europeans would find ENTS and would start to do ENTS style measurements and contributions here. I also hope tree lovers from all around the world would join our community.

Kouta

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