An integrated approach to characterize an old growth forest patch; the Monte Egitto case study

Federico Guglielmo Maetzke, Giovanni Spampinato, Guglielmo Londi, Salvatore Vinciguerra


Old growth forests, i.e. forests which have achieved a remarkable age without or with a very lim-ited disturbance, are nowadays subject of detailed studies in order to understand their characters and capacity of ecosystems services providing. In Sicily only few wooded areas are classified as old growth forest, following the heavy land use change toward agriculture during the centuries. This paper reports the results of a study carried out to characterize the vegetation of a little crater on the Mount Etna, where a residual open wood of Quercus congesta (an endemic oak of Southern Italy) survived the year 1651 lava flows surrounding the crater. About 35 years ago inside the crater some areas were planted with Calabrian Black Pine. As a consequence today there is a remarkable com-petition between trees of the two species. An integrated approach monitoring was adopted, tak-ing into account both trees and understory (herbs, shrubs and tree regeneration) characters as well as bird fauna, in order to describe the current situation and monitor the effect of pine plantation thinning aimed at favouring oak regeneration and reducing pine-oak competition.


old growth forest; bird fauna changes; monitoring.

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