Belgium: Sonian Forest Meeting

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Jeroen Philippona
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Belgium: Sonian Forest Meeting

Post by Jeroen Philippona » Thu Mar 24, 2011 3:15 pm

Hello ENTS,

Saturday March 26 Leo Goudzwaard and I together with two arborists / climbers will go to the Sonian Forest in Belgium to climb some of the tallest beeches (and perhaps oaks as well). We will meet some of the Belgian scientists who did height measurements before as well. They did more new measurements recently and measured (outside the forest reserve) also beeches wich were cut afterwards. The tallest of these was 45.3 m (148.62')tall standing with their tangent based lasermeasure- technique and 44.9 m (147.31') long after felling. So the measurement was rather good. In the reserve as well as several other parts of the Sonian Forest they now measured beech up to 45 - 46 m, not anymore taller. They think they got overmeasurements in Octobre because the trees were in leaf then so the real tops were difficult to see.

So Saturday we will see if our Nikon Forestry measurements will stand the proof after climbing. After that the researchers and forrestors will probably understand the value of sine-top sine-bottom measurements.

Jeroen

Jeroen Philippona
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Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:52 am

Re: Belgium: meeting on trees and tall beeches

Post by Jeroen Philippona » Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:33 pm

Hello ENTS,

Saturday March 26th there was a nice meeting in the Sonian Forest. Three forrestors, three researchers of the Belgian Institute for Nature and Forest research (INBO) among who Peter van de Kerckhove, Leo Goudzwaard from Wageningen University (Netherlands), two Dutch arborists: Jeroen Snaaijer and Coen van Gompel, Marc Meyer from Tervuren Arboretum, Han and Gemma van Meegeren and Joost Werkhoven from Tilburg, Holland and Tim Bekaert, the maker of the website Monumental Trees.com and myself were there to witness the climbing and measuring of the largest and one of the tallest European beech trees (Fagus sylvatica) of the Kerselaersplein Forest Reserve. Climbers were the two arborists Coen and Jeroen from the arborist firm 'Pius Floris' from the Netherlands. They are experienced in tree climbing, but for pruning, not in tall forest trees for measurement reasons, so for them this was a new experience.
ZoniënwoudKlimbeuk1273.jpg

They needed over half an hour before they had shot a line over the first branch at 80 feet height. After that the climbing was not to difficult.
Peter van de Kerckhove had chosen this tree: it was not only one of the tallest as well as the largest in the reserve, but it also looked good to be climbed. He had measured it the day before whit his Lasertech Impulse Forest Pro as 44.5 m (146 ft ); the cbh is 520 cm, 17,06 ft.
ZoniënwoudKlimbeuk1243.jpg
Leo, Marc and I now measured it with our Nikon Forestry 550 lasers and got around the same height. It was a rather difficult tree because of a broad crown, so that finding the tallest branch is not easy. Typically for beech is that measuring through the crown was not possible because of the dense branches.
ZoniënwoudKlimbeuk1267.jpg
The climbers had a measuring tape and an extandible telescope pole. Leo and Peter measured the tape at the forest floor while Marc and I tried to see if the pole was at the same height as the tallest treetop. This was not good to be seen, but Coen, who was at 41.3 m (135.5 ft) high in the tree tried to reach the pole exactly to the tallest top of the tree. So a next time we like to have a climber in a neighbouring tree as well to have a better vieuw.
The tape + pole measurement was 41.3 m + 4.35 m so in total 45.65 m / 149.77 feet. So now the tallest accurate measured beech in Europe is very near to 150 feet! The climbers all in all were 3 hours busy with the climb; because they also wanted to climb a tall Plane tree (Platanus x hispanica) elswere, they did not climb more beeches in the Sonian Forest.
With our lasers we measured several other beeches wich were also around 45 to 45.5 m, so perhaps there are some among them who reach over 46 m and over 150 feet. The beeches in this part of the forest were planted in 1777, so are now 234 years old.
Zoniënwoud2beuken1265.jpg
Other species we measured in the Sonian Forest:
English oak - Quercus robur 41.6 m / 136.5 ft cbh 4.61 m / 15.12 ft. This oak was probably planted in the second half of the 17th century.
ZoniënwoudEikDeBruijn1283.jpg
Norway maple - Acer platanoides 32.6 m / 106.96 ft cbh 2 m / 6.56 ft.
European ash - Fraxinus excelsior 37.6 m / 123.36 ft
European larch - Larix decidua 39.8 m / 130.58 ft
Giant sequoia - Sequoiadendron giganteum 45.6 m / 149.6 ft cbh 4.25 m / 13.94 ft - tallest of a small grove, planted in 1906.

Nearby the Sonian Forest is the Tervuren Arboretum: tallest measured tree there was a Grand fir, Abies grandis, 49.4 m / 162 ft tall.

Jeroen

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Rand
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Re: Belgium: Sonian Forest Meeting

Post by Rand » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:46 pm

Wow. That beech soundly puts ours to shame. Great photographs too.

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dbhguru
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Re: Belgium: Sonian Forest Meeting

Post by dbhguru » Tue Apr 05, 2011 6:10 pm

Jeroen,

I now understand why I like the European beech. It is one heck of a tree. Any thoughts on where the center of development for the species is?

Thanks again for a very informative and very interesting report. European Ents rule!

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

Jeroen Philippona
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Re: Belgium: Sonian Forest Meeting

Post by Jeroen Philippona » Wed Apr 06, 2011 9:37 am

Bob and Rand,

Thanks! European Beech is native in a great part of NW and midle Europe. It needs rather high rainfall, especially in the growth season, so in drier parts of Eastern and southern Europe it is not native. In the cool-temperate and moist parts of Europe it is often the most dominant forest tree. In the drier and hotter parts of Europe often several oak species are dominant. In the mountains beech is codominant in the middle regions, together with European ash, European maple (Acer pseudoplatanus, called Sycamore by the British!) and White Fir (Abies alba), higher up with Norway spruce. On poorer sites European larch and Scots pine are more commen.
Beech is growing very well troughhout the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Switserland, Austria, and the Carpatians in southern Poland, Chech Republic and Slovakija up to the Ukraïne as well as the mountains in Kroatia, Bosnia, Romania and Bulgaria.
So what is the centre of its development? I think within this region anywere with a rather mild and wet climate and good enough soils. I suppose best growth can be found on deep, fertile loess soils like in the Sonian Forest. Perhaps growth there is also a bit better than in northern Germany, wich is colder. Very tall beeches have been reported beside Belgium from France, Southern Germany, Slovakija as well as Bosnia and Romania. Actually in most of these countries it is the tallest native broadleaf tree, perhaps together with European Ash. Reported record heights for both species are about 46 to 49 or even 52 m, but sure measurements now to 45.65 m / 149.77 feet for beech and 44.8 m / 147 ft for ash.

Jeroen
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This beech with a branchefree trunk of 90 feet (height 140 ft) is called the Technobeuk = Technobeech by the Belgians
This beech with a branchefree trunk of 90 feet (height 140 ft) is called the Technobeuk = Technobeech by the Belgians

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dbhguru
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Re: Belgium: Sonian Forest Meeting

Post by dbhguru » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:18 am

Jeroen,

From your experience, where does the English oak rank in the height department? We all associate great girth with the English oak, but I've never understood how it compares to other European hardwoods? Also, do we have a current list of European species ranked according to height? I can't remember seeing a list that puts it all together.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

Jeroen Philippona
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Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:52 am

Re: Belgium: Sonian Forest Meeting

Post by Jeroen Philippona » Sun Apr 10, 2011 4:13 pm

Bob,

I did not see your question till now. While I am not at home now a short answere. Quercus robur is not among the very tallest trees in Europe. As far as we have reliable height measurements the ranking of the tallest native (and some european hybrids) species is about:

1. Picea abies - 59.2 m - Kouta, Germany (uncertain reports up to 65 m)
2. Abies alba - 57.35 m - Switzerland, fallen specimen (uncertain reports up to 65 m)
3. Platanus x hispanica - 48.56 m - England (measured by climbing with tape drop)
4. Fraxinus excelsior - 48.0 m - Germany, Kouta, this week!
5. Larix decidua - 46.8 m - Germany, Kouta
6. Fagus sylvatica - 45.65 m - Belgium, this report
7. Pinus sylvestris - 45.2 m - Poland, Bialowieza, Tomasz Niechoda
8. Quercus petraea - 44.6 m - Germany - Kouta, this week!
9. Quercus robur - 42.6 m - Poland, Bialowieza, Tomasz Niechoda
10. Populus x canadensis - 41.7 m - Netherlands
11. Populus x canescens - 39.1 m - Netherlands
12. Populus nigra - 38.6 m - Belgium
13. Ulmus glabra - 38.4 m - Poland, Bialowieza, Tomasz Niechoda (taller reports from the past, before Dutch
elm disease)
13. Populus nigra - 38.6 m - Belgium (tallest measured are Lombardian Poplars)
14. Alnus glutinosa - 37.3 m - Germany (also 37.2 m in Bialowieza, Poland, Tomasz Niechoda)
15. Acer platanoïdes - 37.2 m - Poland, Bialowieza, Tomasz Niechoda
16. Acer pseudoplatanus - 37.0 m - Netherlands (probably up to 40 m or more in middle Europe)
17. Tilia x europea - 36.8 m - Netherlands (probably up to 40 m or more in Germany, France, etc)
18. Tilia cordata - 36.2 m - Poland, Bialowieza, Tomasz Niechoda

Abies nordmanniana probably gets as tall or taller than Abies alba in the Caucasus, but we don't have reliable height measurements. The heights reported of 68 m seem rather reliable, but reports of 78 and even 85 m are very unsure. It is only native in the Caucasian mountains and eastern Turkey. In Western Europe there are no reports of planted trees taller than 42 m.

Of course there are also a lot of non native trees that get tall:
two species of Eucalyptus: 75 - 80 m (Portugal) and 67 m (Spain)
Abies grandis: 64.28 m - UK
Pseudotsuga menziesi: 63.79 m - UK
Picea sitchensis 59.0 m - UK
Sequoiadendron giganteum 54.5 m - UK
etcetera.
Liriodendron in Holland is only found up to 37.6 m (123.4 ft). Summers are probably to cool for great heights here; Northern red oak we have up to 39.6 m (130 feet) and White pine we have found up to 38.0 m (131 ft), so the N. Red Oak seems to be the tallest of your trees in the Netherlands. But it was planted a lot as a forest tree; Tulip tree only as an ornamental and White pine often gets some kind of desease.

We have two lists with European hight records on websites active now. One is at my own website: see http://www.bomeninfo.nl/tall%20trees.htm.
The list is rather complete for the Netherlands, but we have only few reliable data for other European countries.
It includes data from other sources such as the Tree Register of the British Isles: their data for the tallest conifers or mostly reliable while done with laser or climbing with direct tape drop. Their heightmeasurements of deciduous, broadleaf trees are often done with tangential methods, but they are improving, checking the tallest trees with laser.

The other list is the interactive database on the website of Tim Bekaert from Belgium: http://www.monumentaltrees.com. He accepts only heightmeasurements done with laser or with climbing with tape drop. Four persons from the Netherlands and one from Belgium place heightmeasurements on it. I have also placed some measurements of Kouta, Tomasz Niechoda and the British treeclimber Michael Spraggon on it.
We do not place data of other sources on it: people have to place them themselves or give us autorisation to place the data for them.

Jeroen

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KoutaR
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Re: Belgium: Sonian Forest Meeting

Post by KoutaR » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:10 am

I only comment that the making the list is at the very beginning, of course, and naturally biased towards Western Europe, Germany and Poland due to the location of the laser measurers we are aware of. There is a great potential in the Balkans and Caucasus, for example, and a lot of species are still missing, too. We still have a very long way to the point where ENTS is now, and there will be great difficulties with different languages, cultures, unaccessible reserves, and (in the case of Caucasus) even dangers. But Jeroen does great job in pioneering as an ENTS style listmaker and measurer.

Kouta

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James Parton
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Re: Belgium: Sonian Forest Meeting

Post by James Parton » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:33 am

I work with a fellow from Romania. He talks of the nice beech forests there.
James E Parton
Ovate Course Graduate - Druid Student
Bardic Mentor
New Order of Druids

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KoutaR
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Re: Belgium: Sonian Forest Meeting

Post by KoutaR » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:44 am

James,

Could you ask some exact locations. Either particularly tall forests or large old-growth areas.

Kouta

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