Forest Snow and Landscape Research
Commarmot, B. (ed) 2005: Natural Forests in the Temperate Zone of Europe: biological, social and economic aspects. For. Snow Landsc. Res. 79, 1/2: 1-194.
"Natural Forests in the Temperate Zone of Europe" contains a selection of papers discussing the value of virgin and natural forests from different point of views. An introductory paper provides some basic definitions of "naturalness" with respect to forests and presents an overview of natural forests and protected forest areas in the temperate zone of Europe. In other contributions, disturbance regimes, structures, ecosystem processes and biodiversity components of virgin or natural forests are analysed and in some papers compared to those of managed forests. The value of virgin forest research for defining close-to-nature silviculture is critically discussed. Different biodiversity aspects of European virgin forests are evaluated and their role for biodiversity conservation analysed. The socio-cultural and socio-economic value of natural forests is considered in three papers. The contributions show that many values associated with virgin and natural forests also apply to forests managed in a near-natural way. However, aspects of virgin forests like their wildness and uniqueness and their value as a reference for forest dynamics and ecosystem processes undisturbed by human influence justify the long-term protection of the few remaining virgin and natural forests in Europe. The aim should be to find a balance between strict protection and multifunctional forest management so as to allow for sustainable rural development.
natural forests, virgin forests, biodiversity, disturbance regimes, close-to-nature silviculture, socio-economic value, nature conservation, Europe