An Old-Growth Definition for Western and Mixed Mesophytic Forests
Old growth is widely acknowledged today as an essential part of managed forests, particularly on public lands. However, this concept is relatively new, evolving since the 1970's when a grassroots movement in the Pacific Northwest began in earnest to define old growth. In response to changes in public attitude, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, began reevaluating its policy regarding old-growth forests in the 1980's. Indeed, the ecological significance of old growth and its contribution to biodiversity were apparent. It was also evident that definitions were needed to adequately assess and manage the old-growth resource. However, definitions of old growth varied widely among scientists. To address this discrepancy and other old-growth issues, the National Old-Growth Task Group was formed in 1988. At the recommendation of this committee, old growth was officially recognized as a distinct resource by the Forest Service, greatly enhancing its status in forest management planning. The committee devised "The Generic Definition and Description of Old-Growth Forests" to serve as a basis for further work and to ensure uniformity among Forest Service Stations and Regions. Emphasis was placed on the quantification of old-growth attributes.