What is a natural forest?

Richard H.W. Bradshaw

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in bookResearchpeer-review


A true “natural” forest is defined here as an idealized virgin forest condition that is uninfluenced by large-scale, systematic human activity. Peterken (1996) described a continuum from natural to managed forest, and while some forest areas are almost totally managed, it is doubtful whether any truly natural, virgin forests survive in the world. Even when a “near-natural” forest has been identified, considerable research is required to verify the virgin condition, including long-term observations to establish that current dynamic processes are not the consequence of earlier human intervention (Wolf et al. 2004). Ideally, these observations are complemented by paleoecological investigations that rule out the possibility of earlier breaks in forest continuity, which may have influenced current species content (Segerström et al. 1994).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRestoration of Boreal and Temperate Forests
EditorsJohn A. Stanturf, Palle Madsen
Place of PublicationFlorida
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)0-203-49778-3, 0-203-59157-7
ISBN (Print)1-56670-635-1
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Publication series

SeriesIntegrative Studies in Water Management and Land Development

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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