baumzaehlen - Primeval Forests & Their Trees

©2019copyright christoph hase

Buynyy Natural Monument, Adygea, Russia

 

Opens internal link in current windowAbies nordmanniana subsp. nordmanniana (Nordmann fir or Caucasian fir) has been claimed to reach 85 m height in the Western Caucasus World Heritage site1. This is based on an old measurement or estimation from Buynyy Natural Monument; the details of the measurement are no longer known2. According to this old data, A. nordmanniana in this reserve ”often” reaches 60–65 m.


Buynyy Natural Monument is small for a Russian nature reserve, only 14.8 km2 from 820 to approx. 2000 m elevation. The reserve is a part of the Western Caucasus World Heritage site and was until 1954 a part of the Opens internal link in current windowCaucasus Nature Reserve.

 

It is claimed there has never been logging in the Natural Monument3. In reality, the entire Natural Monument is not untouched: old forestry roads and cut stumps can still be seen on lower slopes. Nevertheless, much of the reserve looks primeval. The forest type resembles the montane Opens internal link in current windowFagus sylvatica (European beech) – Opens internal link in current windowAbies alba (European silver fir) – Opens internal link in current windowPicea abies (Norway spruce) forest of central and southern Europe. Perhaps the biggest difference is a dense evergreen shrub layer, up to 2 m tall, mostly composed by Opens internal link in current windowRhododendron ponticum (pontic rhododendron), Opens internal link in current windowPrunus laurocerasus (cherry laurel) and Opens internal link in current windowIlex colchica, in this order. Particularly R. ponticum together with steep slopes makes hiking difficult. From the dendrological perspective, another important difference is the lack of Picea. Thus, these forests are overwhelmingly dominated by only two tree species: A. nordmanniana and Opens internal link in current windowFagus orientalis (oriental beech). A. nordmanniana has a narrower crown than A. alba, the tallest trees having particularly narrow crowns. The other tree species, too, are either the same as, or closely related to, the common species of central European montane forests, the most abundant species being Opens internal link in current windowAcer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple), Opens internal link in current windowAcer platanoides (Norway maple), Opens internal link in current windowUlmus glabra (wych elm), Opens internal link in current windowTilia begoniifolia (Caucasian linden) and, along rivers, Opens internal link in current windowAlnus glutinosa subsp. barbata (black alder). Most tree species are easy to identify. Hedera helix (European ivy) grows abundantly on tree trunks and forest floor.

 

My 3 days measuring with a German–Russian group in 2018, using TruPulse 200X laser, resulted in 59.5 m as the maximum height of A. nordmanniana. The girth of this tree was 454 cm. Thus, we were very far from the claimed 85 m. Further, A. nordmanniana did not “often reach 60–65 m” but rather 50–55 m. We were able to explore only a part of the Natural Monument as the hiking was slow; thus, it is possible or even probable that there are slightly taller trees in the forest. It is also possible that taller trees were cut on lower slopes in the past. However, we consider 85 m entirely impossible: the difference between our measurements and the old data is more than 25 m! Even 70 m is unlikely. For the maximum height of A. nordmanniana, see also Opens internal link in current windowCaucasus Nature Reserve. The tallest Fagus orientalis we measured was 46.5 m (the record for a reliably measured F. sylvatica is 49.3 m 4). A record Acer platanoides tree was measured at 37.9 m. The forest is densely stocked: even 1800 m3/ha 3.

 

Reaching the Natural Monument needs a 10-km hike, over 500 m descent and fording one river. No hiking paths in the reserve.

 

References:

 

1       IUCN (1999): Opens external link in new windowWorld Heritage Nomination - IUCN Technical Evaluation: Western Caucasus (Russian Federation).

2       Caucasus Nature Reserve, e-mail (2018).

3       http://www.zapoved.net

4       http://www.ents-bbs.org/viewtopic.php?f=198&t=5400&p=23625

 

Official site:

 

Opens external link in new windowhttp://www.zapoved.net

 

Abies nordmanniana subsp. nordmanniana (Caucasian fir), Fagus orientalis (oriental beech), Sambucus nigra (black elder, small tree, centre), Rhododendron ponticum (pontic rhododendron, shrubs).
Abies nordmanniana (Caucasian fir) - Fagus orientalis (oriental beech) forest. Hedera helix (European ivy) on trunks.
Fagus orientalis (oriental beech), Abies nordmanniana (Caucasian fir), Acer platanoides (Norway maple, left), Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple, background with scaly bark), Sambucus nigra (black elder, shrubs in the foreground), Rhododendron ponticum (pontic rhododendron, shrubs in the background).
Fagus orientalis (oriental beech), Abies nordmanniana (Caucasian fir), Tilia begoniifolia (Caucasian linden, right with furrowed bark), Rhododendron ponticum (pontic rhododendron, shrubs). Hedera helix (European ivy) on trunks.
In the foreground Fagus orientalis (oriental beech), height 46.5 m, girth 254 cm. Other trees: Abies nordmanniana (Caucasian fir) and F. orientalis.
Abies nordmanniana (Caucasian fir), height 59.5 m, girth 454 cm. Other trees: A. nordmanniana and Fagus orientalis (oriental beech). Shrubs: Rhododendron ponticum (pontic rhododendron).
Acer platanoides (Norway maple), height 37.9 m, girth 222 cm. Other trees: Fagus orientalis (oriental beech).
Tall and dense Rhododendron ponticum (pontic rhododendron) together with steep slopes make hiking very slow. In the background Abies nordmanniana (Caucasian fir) and Fagus orientalis (oriental beech).
Part of Buynyy Natural Monument. Dominated by Abies nordmanniana (Caucasian fir) and Fagus orientalis (oriental beech).