Forest Development Phases

From seedling to forest

Trees are living organisms, woody plants consisting of roots, trunk and branches. Trees are highly developed plants and are among the largest organisms on Earth. The life of a tree is determined by various metabolic processes that occur in its cells. These processes are greatly reduced during dormant phases (winter).

During the vegetation time, the metabolic processes trigger the corresponding growth processes. These special properties of trees thus consist of the interaction of development and metabolism. With the help of chlorophyll, light is absorbed and converted into energy and other metabolic products of use to the tree.

For more information, go to carbon offset at Wikipedia.

The Development Stages

The development stages are classifications by growth, age, and the lifecycle of a tree. The development and classification start with germination and ends with the death of the tree. The demands of the tree change in each of these stages of development.

The formative phase is during the 1st to the 5th years of development. From the 5th to 80th and 100th years of development, depending on the type, the tree is known as mature. The natural age limit depends on the type of tree and is for birch around 100 years, for maple around 200 years, for beech around 300 years and limes and oaks can reach 400 to 800 years of age. The oldest single example of a native deciduous tree is over 1,000 years old.

1. The young tree (the juvenile and maturing phase)

The time in the life of a tree before it is ready to reproduce is known as its juvenile and formative period. After an initial phase of establishing its roots, the tree develops strongly.

It tries to absorb as much light as possible in order to convert it into the energy it needs. This energy is used to form the tree’s crown and expand into the space provided for it. Trees during this phase respond relatively well to transplanting.

2. The adult tree (the mature and flowering phase)

This phase is characterized by further strong growth. The tree reaches its maximum final height. During this phase the tree is vital and forms a stable crown.

Depending on type, the tree is very responsive and can still adapt easily to changes in its environment. During this phase, however, it already begins to lose the first branches that have not received enough light and thus no longer have a function.

3. The old tree (the senescent phase)

An old tree is in the last stage of its life or development phase. The length of shoots and increase in diameter, as well as the potential to react to corresponding environmental changes decreases. The old tree concentrates its growth on maintaining its heavy crown or on repairing damage.

Deteriorating stability or a diminishing resistance to breakage is offset by local “repairs” (bulges, sections of thicker growth). As the trees grow older, many types also lose their ability to supply the upper portions of the crown with nutrients.

For more information, go to Tree and Forest at Wikipedia.