Question: What are the age structure and growth trends in a 160-year old not-managed Pinus sylvestris plantation with spontaneous development of Quercus robur and can recruitment of Q. robur be related to the radial growth pattern of the P. sylvestris overstorey?
Location: Mattemburgh forest reserve, The Netherlands.
Methods: Throughout the forest, we sampled 103 oaks and 102 pines with an increment corer. Tree ring widths were measured and cross-dated to produce mean ring width series. With these data we determined tree ages, investigated growth trends and identified growth releases and suppressions.
Results: Q. robur is uneven-aged: some individuals recruited around 1925, but most reached coring height in the 1940s. The latter recruitment period related to a transition from stressed to released growth of the overstorey pines, growth releases of the oldest Q. robur and occurrence of P. sylvestris regeneration. No further recruitment has taken place since 1950.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates that an old pine plantation can develop spontaneously into well-structured pine forest with an understorey of oak and pine. However, understorey recruitment in these forest types is not a continuous process and in this case a single allogenic canopy disturbance triggered its establishment.
Nomenclature: Lambinon et al. (1998).