What does ‘Old-Growth’ Really Mean? It depends. (Installment 2 of 6) | New Jersey Audubon | Things to Do in Cape May NJ

Our forests are subject to increasing threats posed by climate change, invasive species, white-tailed deer herbivory, fire suppression, insects, and disease, which are detailed in the recent NJ Forest Action Plan 2020. These challenges make it difficult for NJ’s forests to naturally sustain themselves as they would have at some earlier point in history without thoughtful planning and management. This reality calls into question the idea that old growth forests can be simply created by ‘letting nature take its course’ using hands-off approach. If we assume that direction, we also must be aware that nature may give us a future forest containing very different attributes than those we place value on today. So, how do we best set the stage for this future?


In 1993, Mary Byrd Davis, a researcher and conservationist, aimed to identify old growth forest sites across the eastern United States in her book, Old Growth in the East (revised in 2003). In New Jersey, she described 6 sites of less than 40 acres and 7 sites greater 40 acres as possible old growth…

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