A new method for the identification of old-growth trees in National Forest Inventories: application to Pinus halepensis Mill. stands in Spain uri icon


  • Different nonlinear mixed models for diameter-age were generated using data from the Spanish Forest Inventory in order to identify the most appropriate one for Aleppo pine in its South-western distribution area. The asymptote of the optimal model indicates the threshold diameter for defining an old-growth tree. Additionally, five site index curves were examined to analyze the influence of site quality on these models.
  • Old-growth trees play a very important role in the maintenance of biodiversity in forests. However, no clear definition is yet available to help identify them since tree age is usually not recorded in National Forest Inventories.
  • The Hossfled III mixed model was found to be the most appropriate to fit diameter-age curves for Aleppo pine trees. The overall diameter at breast height threshold for old-growth trees was 40.6 cm, although over a range of sites with increasing site quality, the threshold figure was 36.0, 38.0, 40.4, 43.1, and 46.3 cm, respectively.
  • This method allows the identification of old-growth trees and therefore of biodiversity hotspots, thus providing decision makers with a useful tool for management purposes.
  • To develop and test a new method to identify old-growth trees using a species-specific threshold for tree diameter in National Forest Inventories.

publication date

  • 2013
  • 2013