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Mature Forests

Mature forest trees range in age from 60 to 80 years, for the younger softwoods or hardwoods respectively, up to 140 years in age. The growth of the trees in a mature forest reduces significantly at this stage. Some fallen trees are typical in this setting, which opens the canopy to sunlight reaching the forest floor. Mature forests also provide corridors for the movement of species across the landscape and will often provide a protective buffer connecting secluded habitats. As a result, mature forests house a significant diversity of plants and animals to occupy the variety of niche habitats.

The structural diversity of mature forests provides unique habitats for species in the canopy and on the forest floor. In addition, the middle story of the mature forest provides for a great diversity of bird species. All three layers are characteristic of the mature forest and provide a significant value for visitors. Hiking opportunities, camping, bird watching and fishing are some of the more significant direct economic benefits provided to nearby communities. The indirect value of ecosystem services include cleaning the air of particulate matter pollution and protecting water resource quantity and quality.

Last modified: 
03/28/2016 - 13:53


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4. National Ecological Framework. Richardson, John. 2013.

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