The Perućica Forest reserve in Bosnia Herzegovina

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#1)  The Perućica Forest reserve in Bosnia Herzegovina

Postby Jeroen Philippona » Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:30 pm

Perućica virgin forest reserve in Sutjeska National Park

In the National Park »Sutjeska« (17,250 ha) the strict forest reserve »Perućica« (1,434 ha) is located. Sutjeska can be found in the southern Dinaric Mountains in Bosnia and Herzegovina, near the border with Montenegro. In this mountainous area altitudes range from 500 m in the Sutjeska river valley to the top of Mount Maglic, 2386 m, the highest peak in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The climate is a mixture of Mediterranean and continental, with high precipitation of 1400 - 2000 mm, depending on altitude and exposition. The Perućica forest reserve mainly lies in the Perućica river basin at the NW slopes of Mount Maglic, between the Sutjeska Canyon at 600 and 1800 m.a.s.l. near Prijevor.
Geology is dominated by limestone on the slopes and cliffs surrounding the reserve and acidic sandstone and shale in the central area. Soils are also diverse and may be derived from a mixture of parent materials, especially were calcareous soils have eroded down slopes. Depending on altitude, slope position and soil conditions different forest associations have developed, different forest associations developed here (more than twenty), ranging from Carpinetum orientalis to Pinetum mughi.

In the lower parts of the reserve, below the Skakavac waterfall, the terrain is very steep. Here at altitudes below 1000 m grow forests of more warmth loving broadleaved trees like eastern hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis), hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia),  Turkey oak (Quercus cerris), downy oak (Q. pubescens) and other oak species, silver lime and large leaved lime (Tilia tomentosa and T. platyphyllos), manna ash (Fraxinus ornus) and common whitebeam (Sorbus aria). Because of lack of time and the steep terrain alas we did not visit this part of the reserve.

The largest and central part of the reserve, between 1000 and 1600 m.a.s.l. is covered by oldgrowth beech - fir forests, European beech (Fagus sylvatica) and European silver (Abies alba) here dominate heavily. Other species growing here are Norway spruce (Picea abies),  sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), wych elm (Ulmus glabra), European ash (Fraxinus excelsior)  and near rivers black alder (Alnus glutinosa). Parts of the forest with deep soils are very dense, with large canopy trees up to over 40 m (broadleaves) and 50 m (conifers) and diameters to over 1 meter.  In Perućica the famous Swiss forest researcher Hans Leibundgut in 1954 found a Norway spruce of 63 m tall, the tallest reported of this species in Europe.
We concentrated on this part of the reserve as here most record heights could be expected.

At high outcrops and cliffs black pine (Pinus nigra) is the most important tree but also mountain pine (Pinus mugo) is present. More than 170 species of trees and shrubs and over 1,000 species of herbaceous plants have been registered in Perućica.

Perućica is allowed to enter with a guide only. In the reserve there are no landmines from the the Bosnian War, the only area where they may occur is the lower end of the reserve (in Sutjeska Canyon, near the road). We visited Perućica for two days, led by our guide Vlado (Vladimir) Lalović.

The first day we started with the magnificent view over the Perućica valley with its great forest and the Skakavac waterfal from a ridge near Dragos Sedlo.
               
                       
Perucica-overvieuw-east1190.jpg
                       
View over the Perucica Forest from Dragos Sedlo to the east with Mount Maglic (left) and Skakavac waterfall (centre right).
               
               

               
                       
Perucica-overvieuw-south1182.jpg
                       
Perucica forest overview from Dragos Sedlo to the south
               
               

               
                       
Perucica-broadleaf-forest1176.jpg
                       
Distant view at broadleaf forest at lower altitudes with a.o. beech, lime (Tilia tomentosa and platyphyllos), oaks and hornbeam,
               
               

The area southeast of Dragos Sedlo and just south of the forest road from Dragos Sedlo to Prijevor was appointed to us by Vlado as the part of the Perućica primeval forest with the largest and tallest trees and the highest volume of the stands, up to more than 1000 cubic metre per hectare.
               
                       
Perucica-firforest1152.jpg
                       
The fir-spruce-beech forest along the forestroad southeast from Dragos Sedlo
               
               

At a small plot Leibundgut found even as much as 1870 m3/ha of living wood. This forest is dominated by silver fir. Also important are beech and Norway spruce.
               
                       
Perucica-firforest1151.jpg
                       
Canopy of white fir, Norway spruce and beech along the forest road
               
               

               
                       
Perucica1112.jpg
                       
Inside the forest
               
               

               
                       
Perucica1148.jpg
                       
Forest with large dead silver fir and smaller beeches
               
               

Other tree species are scarce, we saw a few wych elms as well as sycamore maples along the road. In this part of the forest also stand the "Three Sisters", a group of Norway spruces said to be the largest and tallest trees in Perucica. Actually, the largest of the three had fallen several years ago. According to the director of the Sutjeska National Park, mr. Zoran Čančar, this tree formerly had a height of 62 m (203 ft) and a diameter of 1.7 m / 5.6 ft (girth 5.34 m / 17.5 ft).
               
                       
PerucicaVlado3SistersK1125.jpg
                       
Vlado at the fallen Sister, said to have been 62 m (203 feet) tall with 1.70 m (5.58 ft) dbh
               
               

The second tallest Sister had been measured in 2005 and then was 54 m tall with a dbh of 1.55 m. Mr. Čančar ensured us there were no silver firs in the Perucica forest of this size.
               
                       
Perucica2Sisters1125.jpg
                       
Kouta at the largest of the Three Sisters still standing
               
               

The top of the second Sister is now dead and we found the tree only 49.5 m tall with dbh of 1.47 m, but we found several other spruces as well as firs which were larger and taller than the Two Sisters. In this area we found a maximum height of 52.0 m for spruce and even 52.9 m for silver fir and girths up to 5.3 m (17.4 ft) for both species.
               
                       
Perucica-silverfir1146.jpg
                       
The largest silver fir we measured, 52.0 m (170.6 ft) tall, cbh 5.26 m (17.26 ft)
               
               

Next day we went to the area near the confluence of the Perućica and Prijevorski river (1000 - 1100 m a.s.l.); there we found very tall trees of four species. Most slopes here are facing north to northwest and are relatively cool and moist. There are several sources and small rivers, so the trees have shelter and good water supply.
We found a maximum height of 57.4 m (188.3 ft) for Norway spruce (the second tallest of 56.6 m had a broken top and in the past it may have been a few meters taller) and 54.0 m (177.2 ft) for European silver fir. We think the greater hights here compared to the other area can be explained by the exposition: the area near the forest road is on a slope facing southwest to south while the area with the tallest trees is on a west to north facing slope. The tallest trees we find are nearly always on north facing slopes, while these are cooler and less dry in summer. Additionally, the altitude (around 1400 m) of the area near the road is probably too high for record breaking trees.
In the same area we measured for beech heights up to 44.2 m (145 ft), for sycamore maple to 39 m (128 ft).  
               
                       
PerucicaBroken Doublespruce1223.jpg
                       
Michael at a broken double Norway spruce
               
               

               
                       
PerucicaFallenTrunks1226.jpg
                       
Fallen spruce and fir trunks over one of the tributaries
               
               

Largest trees we saw were the second tallest Norway spruce of 56.6 m (185.7 ft) with cbh of 5.28 m (17.3 ft) and a European silver fir of 52.0 m (170.6 ft) with cbh of 5.26 m (17.26 ft).
               
                       
PerucicaNspruce1211.jpg
                       
Michael near the largest and 2nd tallest Norway  spruce, once perhaps over 60 m (197 feet)
               
               

The volume of both trees we estimated as around 35 cubic m (over 1200 cubic feet).
               
                       
Perucica-silverfir1143.jpg
                       
The largest silver fir, 52.0 m (170.6 ft) tall, cbh 5.26 m (17.26 ft)
               
               

We had possibility to explore only a small part of the potential record tree groves, so it is possible larger and taller trees can be found in the forest. To find this out several days of exploration of the forests along the Perućica river and the Prijevorski river from 1600 m downwards to the Skakavac waterfall should be necessary. Very helpful should be if there was done LiDAR research from a small airplane.
A few small clearings are scattered in the forest where localized cutting and grazing occurred in the past, but the influence of these areas on the surrounding stands seems to be rather localized.

Jeroen, Kouta & Michael

Literature.
Leibundgut, H. (1982).  Europäische Urwälder der Bergstufe. Dargestellt für Forstleute, Naturwissenschaftler und Freunde des Waldes. Verlag Paul Haupt, Bern und Stuttgart,
ISBN 3-258-03166-5.
Nagel and Svoboda (2008). Gap disturbance regime in an old-growth Fagus–Abies forest in the Dinaric Mountains, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Konrad Pintarič.  Forestry and forest reserves in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
               
                       
Perucica-Tree-list2012.doc
                       
List of tallest and largest measured trees in  Perucica forest reserve 2012
                       
(37.5 KiB) Downloaded 37 times
               
               

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#2)  Re: The Perućica Forest reserve in Bosnia Herzegovina

Postby KoutaR » Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:09 pm

Still one photo. The tallest (57.4 m) Norway spruce we measured is on the right next to Michael. In front of it a beech. On the left foreground a ~52 m tall silver fir. Behind it, with the left side of the base highlighted and the top visible (top left), the tallest (54.0 m) silver fir we measured.

               
                       
PerucicaAbies54Picea57.jpg
                                       
               

Kouta

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#3)  Re: The Perućica Forest reserve in Bosnia Herzegovina

Postby KoutaR » Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:07 pm

For me the most puzzling question after our trip is the max. height of European silver fir (Abies alba). In literature, silver fir can attain similar or even greater heights than Norway spruce (Picea abies). In German literature the tallest measured Norway spruce is often 63 m and the tallest silver fir 65 m tall, both measured by Hans Leibundgut in Perućica. However, the both trees are rather enigmatic. Leibundgut conducted his research in 1954. He writes in his "Europäische Urwälder der Bergstufe" (1982) the DBH of the 63-meter spruce was 165 cm but Konrad Pintaric who was Leibundgut's co-researcher writes the tallest spruce was 64 m and its DBH 190 cm! Pintaric' article can be found here (see page 10):
http://www.scribd.com/doc/14777048/FORE ... ST-EUROPE-
Even more enigmatic is the 65-meter fir. Leibundgut published this measurement only in a short (~1/3 page) note "Die grössten Fichten und Tannen" (1976) in a Swiss forestry journal. There he writes the fir was located in Perućica in a study plot of him. However, in the 1982 article he doesn't say anything about a 65-meter fir and but writes the tallest fir in his study plots was only 52 m tall! Pintaric doesn't say anything about a 65-meter fir. The both men are already passed away, so we cannot ask them.

Leibundgut (1982) indicates Norway spruce attains greater heights than silver fir in Perućica: fir generally attains 48 m and spruce 50 m, max. heights in his study plots were 60 m for spruce and 52 m for fir, the 63-meter spruce was outside the study plots and he doesn't mention any exceptional fir outside the study plots. Mr. Čančar, the boss of Sutjeska National Park (where Perućica is located), also said spruce gets taller and therefore they don't measure firs at all. Our measurements also support Čančar's opinion: spruces were consistently a few meters taller in every park we visited.

I believe the Sgerm Spruce's 62.26 m is very close to the potential max. height of Norway spruce. There is only one historical record taller than Leibundgut's tree, 70 m from 1800's, which can be considered unreliable. But what is the potential max. height of silver fir? The tallest laser measurement to our knowledge is 54 m, measured by us in Perućica. The tallest laser measurement to our knowledge in Central Europe is 51 m while there are taller spruces in many countries up to 59,2 m. However, there are two fairly reliable taller fir records, measured with a tape after felling lying on the ground: 60.5 m in 1957 in Czech Republic and 57,35 m in 1974 in Switzerland.

My guess is that silver fir's potential max. height is ~60 m at the most and the heights equal or taller (some sources give even 68 m) than Norway spruce are a consequense of the broad top of old silver fir and the tangent method. The opinions in this writing are mine, Jeroen and Michael may have differing opinions.

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#4)  Re: The Perućica Forest reserve in Bosnia Herzegovina

Postby dbhguru » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:43 pm

Kouta,

  I continue to be amazed at what you, Jeroen, and Michael are confirming. I'm also amazed at the quality of the forests you are exploring. It is apparent that Eastern Europe is a whole different environment and that there is far more to explore than any of us on this side of the pond could have imagined.

  I envy you on being able to see the bases of the tall trees you are measuring. Here in Hawaii, I'm challenged beyond anything that I've previously encountered in terms of seeing the target. The vegetation is incredibly thick - well jungle. Yesterday I was able to confirm 190 feet for some species of eucalyptus, but it was a heck of a challenge and I nearly got eaten alive by mosquitoes.

  There is so very much to learn over here and so little time to absorb. However, the truly native forests have many fewer species. I've been exploring the ohia forests which are adapted to low and high elevations and dry and wet climates. Amazing trees. I plan to do a major trip report when I return to Mass, but Internet speed hampers me now.

  What sorts of trips do you three have planned for the future? Your explorations to this point have been among the best posts that we've ever had in NTS. You all are setting the gold standard. Thanks ever so much from all your lady and fellow Ents. Your work is an inspiration.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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#5)  Re: The Perućica Forest reserve in Bosnia Herzegovina

Postby Rand » Wed Dec 05, 2012 4:01 pm

Bob,

Since the trees were of smokey mountain-like proportions, I wondered if the rainfall is comparable.  I looked up it up and was surprised how wet the Adriatic coast is compared to the rest of europe

               
                       
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#6)  Re: The Perućica Forest reserve in Bosnia Herzegovina

Postby KoutaR » Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:57 pm

Thank you, Bob! The communism was undoubtedly a bad experiment but it appears to have been good for nature: the land use was much less effective; consequently, almost all European true old-growth south from Fennoscandia is now in the former Warsaw Bloc.

In the Balkans, Jeroen threw out an idea to do a new trip to Romania and Bulgaria, but we have no actual plans. The Russian Caucasus and Abies nordmanniana have also been discussed but the region is at the moment so risky that I (as father of a small child) will not go there before it gets safer there. It is unfortunately the most turbulent region in Russia.

If you had in Hawaii nobody who can identify the eucalypts, you could take photos of fruits, floral buds, leaves and trunk, and we can try to identify them. Fruits and floral buds can almost always be found on the ground. I look forward to your reports, particularly of native forests.

Rand, the parks we explored have annual precipitations of around 2000 mm = 80 inches. A difference between the mountains of the Balkans and the Smokies is that in the former there is a drier period in summer.

Kouta
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#7)  Re: The Perućica Forest reserve in Bosnia Herzegovina

Postby Jeroen Philippona » Wed Dec 05, 2012 7:00 pm

Bob,

Thanks for this compliments, but you and your fellow ents (together with the Western treemeasurers) were the most important inspiration for us to start heightmeasuring with laser and the Sine method as well as by climbing.
Till now we did not plan new trips. Beside again visiting some of the forests we described in these reports, I would like to visit several forest reserves in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Rumania and Bulgaria. Also the forest with Abies nordmanniana and Picea orientalis in the Caucasian are very interesting for finding heightrecords, but also political very unstable. Very interesting I think are forests in Northern Iran south of the Caspian Sea.
So there is still a lot to explore, to much for the three of us. There are some more measurers who use laser in Europe now, but most of them just started with this and only measure trees in their own neighbourhood.
Michael Taylor proposes us to do more photographing of the big oriental planes at Trsteno when the leaves are off for his three-dimensional measuring method.

Rand,

Indeed the Adriatic coast region and especially the mountain chains somewhat more inland have a high rainfall, the mountainforests we visited have a rainfall of 60 - 80 inche a year.

Kouta,

Indeed especially the 65 m tall fir (in the small article with a DBH of only 88 cm / CBH 276 cm = 9 feet) is very enigmatic. Also confusing is that the DBH of the tallest Norway spruce is different in the different articles.  So perhaps Leibundgut cannot be trusted totally or he means different trees. The 65 m fir can have grown in an other study plot than the 52 m fir.
I agree that ~60 m will be the potential max. height for white fir, but one never can be sure. For example the tallest Pinus strobus in the Smokeys before losing its top was more than 20 feet taller then the second tallest.  The tallest Quercus petraea in the Forêt de Bercé in France are 4 m taller then anywere else measured by us.
Also interesting are the differences in max. height found of Tilia x europea in the UK and the Netherlands: in the Netherlands these trees rarely are taller than 34.5 m /110 ft, only one of 36.8 m / 120.7 ft was found, but in the UK now in one area many were found by mr. RedRob of 40 to 43.2 m / 141.7 ft.
So before we can draw definitive conclusions about potential maximum heights we have to measure a lot more!  

Jeroen
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#8)  Re: The Perućica Forest reserve in Bosnia Herzegovina

Postby KoutaR » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:08 am

I second Jeroen in that the NTS has definitely been our inspiration and model for starting to measure and build a Europe-wide database of reliable measured trees. Unfortunately I needed about 2 years to buy a rangefinder (from my first post to the ENTS-TREES). I have always been interested in tree heights but I couldn't believe I could do something valuable. Particularly I couldn't believe height records are still generally measured with such a stupid method as the tangent method.

Jeroen Philippona wrote:The 65 m fir can have grown in an other study plot than the 52 m fir.


Leibundgut (1982, p. 47) writes: "In den Probeflächen wurden die folgenden Maximalhöhen gemessen: ... Tanne Durchmesser 110 cm Höhe 52 m" ("In the study plots [note plural!], the following maximum heights were measured: ... Fir Diameter 110 cm Height 52 m"). I understand this so that 52 m was the height of the tallest fir of ALL the study plots.

I agree that we cannot say yet anything sure about maximal heights. The strongest proof for me for my belief that silver fir does not get over 60 m tall is that Norway spruces have been taller than firs everywhere. I may be wrong. Actually I hope I am wrong and there are TWO native tree species in Central Europe capable to exceed 60 m.

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#9)  Re: The Perućica Forest reserve in Bosnia Herzegovina

Postby Joe » Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:24 am

KoutaR wrote:Thank you, Bob! The communism was undoubtedly a bad experiment but it appears to have been good for nature: the land use was much less effective; consequently, almost all European true old-growth south from Fennoscandia is now in the former Warsaw Bloc.

Kouta


Kouta, will the new governments protect these forests?
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#10)  Re: The Perućica Forest reserve in Bosnia Herzegovina

Postby KoutaR » Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:31 am

Joe,

The post-communism-era governments are not "new" anymore. The Warsaw Bloc crashed already over 20 years ago. Anyway, these reserves are very well and effectively protected, in some cases the parks cooperate with western European agencies. Unfortunately the national parks outside these old-growth reserves are not well protected. For example, the forests of Sutjeska National Park outside Perucica Nature Reserve are logged by the national park itself. We saw a logging truck coming from the park full of big trunks. Apparently there are fairly tall forests also outside Perucica but they are being logged. Perhaps the national park and the government simply need money.

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