On 12/10/2020, an article appeared in the Flemish magazine ‘EOS Wetenschap’ concerning the research of Kris Vandekerkhove, forest expert of INBO (Institute for Forest and Nature Research). He and his team did a remarkable discovery in the Belgian Sonian Forest. In the oldest part of this forest reserve, there is a clump of twenty beeches with a diameter of more than 120 cm. There even is one beech tree measuring 150 (!) cm in diameter. In addition, beeches can have lengths up to 50 meters, making them among the highest in Europe.
Vandekerkhove researches Flemish forests, showing that things are going in the right direction. Strangely it is because more trees are allowed to die. Due to the intensively managed forests, trees were not able to grow very big and thick for centuries. Back in the day, deadwood was taken from the forest to serve as firewood. “In the past 500 years, and perhaps even in the last thousand years, there has never been more deadwood in our forests than today”, says Kris Vandekerkhove. “Deadwood is vital for biodiversity.”
In an average forest, more than 15 cubic meters of deadwood per hectare can be found. When all dying trees are left in the forest, the amount of deadwood will increase by one to one and a half cubic meters per hectare annually. European forest reserves that have been left alone for more than thirty years on average, the amount of deadwood rises to an average of 75 cubic meters per hectare whereas this amount can easily be more than 100 to 200 cubic meters in primeval forests.
A lot of plant and animal species take advantage of the available deadwood such as the Tawny Owl, the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Black Woodpecker. Until a few years ago, the Flat Bark Beetle (Cucujus cinnaberinus) is resurfacing here, after being driven back in reserves in Central Europe.
Want to read more about this and how it is evolving?
Find the complete Dutch article here: https://www.eoswetenschap.eu/natuur-milieu/hoera-er-gaan-weer-bomen-dood