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Re: Tall European trees


Indeed these chestnuts are big. The trunkvolume is perhaps larger than of the largest Live Oaks, but the branchvolume is probably less, although the 39 ft chestnut has a very large crown for the species. I suppose the total woodvolume will be over 85 cubic m (3000 cubic feet), perhaps around 4000, but I did not try a volume-measurement. Most chestnuts have smaller crowns, their branches often snap off while having less strong wood than Live Oaks.

The same with the European oaks, the largest have a larger trunkvolume than Quercus virginiana but less branchvolume.
Here two photos of a Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea) at Croft Castle, England. Bob van Pelt estimated its woodvolume as 3800 cubic feet while visiting the UK in 2006. See his report at the ENTS website in the pages on Europe. The height is 35 m (114,8 ft), cbh is 8,6 m (28,2 ft).

by Jeroen Philippona
Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:19 pm
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Re: most impressive live oak


You should visit the Georgia and National Champion Live Oak at Waycross, Ware County. It seems to be huge, cbh 35 ft, height 77 ft and average crown spread 155 ft, with 536 American Forest points. See

On other photos it seems to have several trunks, but still worthwhile to see and probably one of the largest of all Live Oaks.

Jeroen Philippona
by Jeroen Philippona
Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:41 pm
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Re: Tall European trees


About ten years ago I visited the Heiligen Hallen Forest. It is a small reserve, the beeches are tall but alas at that time I did not have any measuring equipment. I tried to get an impression of the hight by comparing the tree from a distance with a person standing under it. In that way the beeches seemed to be up to 40 m tall, not much taller. In May I am planning to make a short holiday to the Elbe region near Hitzacker and Wittenberge but I also like to go to the Müritz lake region. Both for birdwatching combined with visiting old trees and forests. Perhaps I can also visit the Heiligen Hallen then. I think it will not be difficult to go into the Heiligen Hallen to measure te trees, although it is not allowed. They are just afraid some tourist is hit by a falling branche or tree. You should just try to go there yourself, I don't think there are always people looking for anyone visiting the forest.

by Jeroen Philippona
Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:59 pm
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Re: Tall European trees


To evaluate the accuracy of the measurements of the Slovakian reserve Hrončokovský grúň whe should have to visit it with laser equipment. To measure hardwood / broadleaf trees in a forest its much easier to measure without leafs.
Personally I think some of these heights will be a bit exaggerated.

I've bought a Nikon Forestry 550 laser ranger last September, its working fine. Before that I did height measurement with a Suunto clinometer and a tape. Because I had contact for several years with ENTS I knew the problems with tangential measuring. So most of my Suunto measurements were rather good, but took a lot of time. The laser is much easier and more accurate. A friend of mine, Leo Goudzwaard, is working for the Forestry research group of Wageningen University (Netherlands). Till recently, he did height measuring with the Suunto clinometer as well as with a Digital Hypsometer Forestor Vertex, I think it is the same type as the Haglöf Vertex III Ultrasonic Hypsometer used by Holeksa et al.
When testing all methodes together it was easily seen that great mismeasurements could be made with the Hypsometer when one did not recognise the real horizontal distance to the measured top. Before Leo realised this, he made mismeasurements up to 12 %. This has been said many, many times by Robert Leverett, Will Blozan and others.
So, I think the measurements of Holeksa easily can be wrong for over 10 %.

Leo Goudzwaard now has bought also a Nikon Forestry laser ranger.

The measurements of Fraxinus excelsior reported by Waldherr probably have been done with a clinometer and also could be wrong for over 10%.

A Polish measurer, Thomasz Niechoda, has measured recently with Suunto clinometer Fraxinus excelsior of 45 - 46 m in Bialowieza, Poland. I have warned him for the risks of this kind of measurement. Till now he has measured maxima in Bialowieza of 48 to 50 m for Picea abies, 41 m for Quercus robur and 36 m for Tilia cordata. This seems to be trusted, so I think he measures as good as possible with this method.

About Fagus sylvatica: with the Nikon Forestry 550 I have measured hundreds of them in the Netherlands at many locations. Only at three places near Arnhem I found beeches of 42 to 43 m (138 - 141 ft). At the Middachten Estate there are still 2 beeches of 43 m (141 ft). In a lane cut in nov. 2005 I measured a fallen beech with a lenght of 44,25 m (145,18 ft). Next to it had stood a taller one, probably 2 m taller, what could be seen from outside the lane. It had been measured by Leo Goudzwaard with the Digital Hypsometer Forestor Vertex as 48,5 m (159,12 ft), but by the forestor of the estate with a clinometer as 46 m (150,9 ft). This seemed to be right. Another beech of 47,3 m (155,18 ft) has been measured a few years ago when blown over in the estate of Amelisweerd near Utrecht. I have doubts about this, the tallest beech I have measured in that forest with the Nikon is 40,5 m (132,87 ft).
A acquaintance of mine has climbed and tape-dropped a beech in eastern Germany (former GDR) of 49 m. This seems accurate, but it was done several years ago in a climbing competition and perhaps not with the greatest possible accuracy.

I updated the list for the Netherlands in April 2013. There are few substantial changes found in the three years since I posted this list. For the whole of Europe there have been found many more new record heights.

My own list of tallest trees in the Netherlands measured by Nikon Forestry 550 laser:
Scientific name - English name - records 2010 - Update 12-04-2013
Pseudotsuga menziesii - Douglas fir - 50,3 m (laser) - 49,75 m (climbing + tapedrop; lasermeasurement in 2010 was
without direct view of the base)
Fagus sylvatica - European beech - 43,0 m - 43,2 m
Picea abies - Norway spruce - 42,1 m - 42,1 m
Abies grandis - Grand fir - 42,0 m - 42,0 m
Populus x canadensis - Hybrid poplar - 41,2 m - 41,7 m
Quercus robur - English oak - 41,2 m - 41,8 m
Sequoiadendron gig. - Giant sequoia - 41,0 m - 41,5 m
Quercus rubra - N. red oak - 39,6 m - 39,6 m
Thuja plicata - Western red cedar - 39,4 m - 39,8 m
Populus x canescens - Grey poplar - 39,1 m - 39,1 m
Larix decidua - European Larch - 39,0 m - 40,0 m
Platanus x hispanica - London plane - 39,0 m - 39,0 m
Fraxinus excelsior - European white ash - 38,6 m - 39,5 m
Liriodendron tulipifera - Tulip tree - 38,0 m - 37,6 m
Acer pseudoplatanus - Sycamore maple - 37,0 m - 37,0 m
Aesculus hippocastanum - Horse chestnut - 36,0 m - 36,8 m
Tilia platyphyllos - Broadleafed lime - 35,2 m - 35,2 m
Ulmus glabra - Wych elm - 35,0 m - 35,0 m
Salix alba - white willow - 34,6 m - 34,6 m
Tilia x europea - common lime - 34,6 m - 36,8 m
Tilia tomentosa - silver lime - 34,4 m - 34,4 m
Taxodium distichum - swamp cypress - 34,0 m - 34,6 m
Tsuga heterophylla - western hemlock - 34,0 m - 34,5 m
Quercus cerris - Turkey oak - 34,0 m - 34,2 m
Juglans nigra - black walnut - 33,8 m - 35,2 m
Pinus sylvestris - Scots pine - 33,6 m - 33,6 m
Quercus petraea - Sessile oak - 33,5 m - 33,5 m
Quercus palustris - Pin oak - 33,0 m - 33,8 m
Platanus orientalis - oriental plane - 33,0 m - 33,0 m
Alnus glutinosa - common alder - 33,0 m - 33,0 m
Castanea sativa - European sweet chestnut - 33,0 m - 34,6 m
Quercus frainetto - Hungarian oak - 32,6 m - 32,6 m
Metasequoia glyptostr. - dawn redwood - 32,0 m - 32,8 m
Pinus nigra - black pine - 32,0 m - 34,8 m
Prunus avium - wild cherry - 31,6 m - 31,6 m
Acer platanoides - Norway maple - 30,2 m - 32,0 m
Betula pendula - silver birch - 30,0 m - 32,4 m
Cryptomeria japonica - Japanese red cedar - 30,0 m - 30,8 m
Carpinus betulus - common hornbeam - 29,0 m - 32,2 m

For some species these records will be very near the real maximum for Holland, for others not yet.

In the UK there are now done very accururate height measurements by the British Tree Register with laser and climbing with tape drop. In Germany some of these accurate measuring has also been done recently. Still I did not see accurate listings of Germany of the whole country for many species. Its sure in Germany many species will have taller individuals compared to Holland.

It should be nice if you could persuade Holeksa et al. to use laser equipment to meassure this forest.

by Jeroen Philippona
Mon Mar 29, 2010 6:36 pm
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Re: Tall European trees


Indeed it should be nice to meet you there!
At least I am in the Elbe region between May 12th to 16th. In this area there is a nice old riverine forest, called the "Elbholz" with tall oak, ash, beech, poplar, elm, maple, etc. and large old open growth oaks, elms and native black poplars. See for some photos, but not of the closed forest, only of the open forest near the river Elbe.
But probably there are no trees above 40 m tall in this forest.
I hope to go also from May 8th to 12th to the Müritz area. If this is possible I can visit Heiligen Hallen in one of these days. Because this depends on some other people going with me it is not yet sure. As soon as I know for sure if I can manage to go already at the 8th, I will mail you.

by Jeroen Philippona
Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:52 pm
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Re: European ENTS in Heilige Hallen

Kouta, ENTS,

This evening I came back from a week to the north eastern part of Germany, the Bond-state of Mecklenburg Vorpommern. This is one of the least populated parts of Germany with relatively a lot of nature. Many smaller and larger lakes with marsh and moorlands are a good habitat for a lot of birds like cranes, eagles and many other species. There are several National Parks and nature reserves as well as landscape parks.
Its a pity there are no real natural forests. "Heilige Hallen" is very small and, because it was regrowth of the end 17th century from a former settlement cannot be seen as a primeaval forest. It is very poor in species composition, perhaps due to its history.
Some miles to the west there are larger mixed beech-forests wich have a bit richer vegetation but less old individual trees because there was wood-extraction in the past century as well as before. Parts of these forests have a mixture of European beech with common and sessile oak, birch, and on richer and wetter soils hornbeam, lime, white elm, European ash, Norway maple, black alder, aspen, etc.

About the measured height: 43 m / 141 ft is exactly the same height as the maximum height measured for beech in the Netherlands. Perhaps there were taller trees we missed, but I don't think there were taller tops on the measured trees because we measured them from openings in the canopy nearby. I was in the Heiligen Hallen forest about 10 years ago without measuring equipment. Since then several large trees have fallen or have broken tops. Few of the large old trees have still their full crowns. Because it was originally an even aged stand I think some decades ago there was a younger and more closed canopy, with some trees up to one or two, perhaps three meters taller. Maximum height than will have been between 44 and 46 m (144 and 151 feet). The reported heights of 50 - 52 m I do not belief. The heights of 40 to 43 m are on old trees in the valleys / dells or on the lower slopes. Higher up the slopes the trees are most below 40 m tall.

by Jeroen Philippona
Fri May 14, 2010 7:20 pm
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some old trees in northern Germany

Last week together with Remke van Rijswijk I visited the north-eastern part of Germany, most in the Bond-state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. We met Kouta Räsänen in the 'Heilige Hallen' beech forest reserve, were we measured several of the largest and tallest European beeches, to know if the in the literature reported heights of 50 - 52 m are true.
Beside this we were there for birdwatching as well as visiting old solitarian trees. In this area there are a lot of old solitarian trees, several of wich are famous as being among the biggest and presumable oldest of the species in Germany or Europe.
Here photos of some of them.

A. White elm - Ulmus laevis.
White elm Gulitz837.jpg
A 1. The elm in the village of Gülitz in Brandenburg.
This is the largest girthed elm in Germany and probably Europe. CBH is 9,8 metre / 32.15 feet, height is 19 m / 62 feet. Age is unknown, some say it is 800 years but we think it will be between 350 and 500 year.

White elm Boek1005.jpg
A 2. White elm near Boek, in the Müritz National Park, Mecklenburg Vorpommern.
Height 16 m, cbh 6,2 m (20 feet). Age ± 200 - 250 years.
Most really old elms in Europe are solitarian white elms, because it is less vulnerable to Dutch elm disease. This while the beetles wich are the actor of the fungus don't like this elm-species. When there is root-contact with other elm-species it can be infected and killed.

B. Small-leaf Lime - Tilia cordata.
There are many large, old solitarian lime-trees (Tilia cordata, T. platyphyllos and T. x europea, wich are hybrids of the other two) in Germany, many presumably very old. The largest girthed lime we visited this time is in the Hamlet of Speck, Müritz National Park.
Height: 17 m (56 ft), cbh ± 9,5 m (31 ft). Age estimated 400 - 600 years.

C. Pedunculate oak (= common oak or English oak) - Quercus robur. Many large specimen trees with a girth of 20 to 37 feet in Mecklenburg Vorpommern. Also common in forests.

C1. Oak near the church of Lüttenhagen, near the Heiligen Hallen beech forest. Photo with Kouta and myself measuring the girth: 759 cm (24,9 feet) , height 20 m (65 ft), estimated age ± 350 - 450 years.

C2. Oak in a brook-forest called "Voss-eik", near Gross-Gievitz.
Height 27,2 m (89,2 ft), cbh 826 cm (27,1 ft), estimated age 350 - 450 years. Very beautiful, large oak with beautiful big limbs.

C3. Largest oak of Ivenack, largest oak of Germany and (in volume) of Europe.
Height: 32,2 m (105,6 ft), cbh 1125 cm (36,9 feet). Age estimated ± 600 - 800 years. Total woodvolume ± 140 cubic metre / 4944 cubic feet. Age estimate based on treering research in 1996 of the outher 35,5 cm (193 yearrings in 35,5 cm, were the radius without bark was 166 cm) and comparing with cut trees in the neighbourhood.

C4. Knorreiche of Rothenmoor. Very nice tree.
Height 17 m (56 ft), cbh 770 cm (25,2 ft), age ± 400 - 450 years.

D. Black Poplar - Populus nigra. Very related to the Cottonwood - Populus deltoïdes.
Height 33,2 m (109 ft), cbh 750 cm (24,6 ft), age estimated 120 - 150 years. Large native black poplars are rare in Europe, most poplars are hybrids of P. nigra x P. deltoides.

by Jeroen Philippona
Sun May 16, 2010 7:09 am
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Belgium: meeting on trees and tall beeches

Saturday 23rd Ovtober there was an international meeting on champion and veteran trees, for tree - specialists and tree - organisations of NW and central Europe. It was held at Wespelaar Arboretum, near Brussels in Belgium. It was organised by Christopher Carnaghan, the international representative of the Tree Register of the British Isles, together with our hosts the organisation of the Wespelaar Arboretum and the Beltrees dendrological project in Belgium. About 40 persons from ten European countries attended the meeting: from Belgium, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland and Switzerland. There were presentations mainly about recording veteran, monumental and champion trees and creating a register and / or a database of them as well as finding and photografing them.

Among the attendants were Thomas Pakenham, autor of the books"Meetings with Remarkable Trees" and "Remarkable Trees of the World", David Alderman, Registrar of the Tree Register, Tony Kirkham, Curator of the Arboretum at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, as well as several writers / photographers of books on old or champion trees.

It was a very nice and inspiring meeting, meant to inform each other and talking about possibilities to have more international contact and preservation of trees.
At the end of the afternoon we visited the arboretum, still young but wit a nice collection of broadleave trees.

I took the opportunity to stay in belgium and, together with Tim Bekaert, creator of the website:, to visit a few interesting places with great trees.

A. We started with the beautiful and impressive Sweet Chestnuts ( Castanea sativa ) of Kasteel Schouwbroek near Vinderhoute (NW of Gent).
Three impressive and vital giants of up to 9 m girth behind the park-entrance.
See at Tim's website: or in the book of Jeroen Pater.
Because of the fence we did not measure the trees.

B. Next place to visit was the Castle park of Enghien / Edingen in Henegouwen: A very old park with good loamy soils and good tree-growth, so very large trees to be seen.
We saw a lot of trees and measured some:
1. Hornbeam - Carpinus betulus , Height: 33 m / 106 ft, new lasermeasured European heightrecord (the champion height tree of Ireland is 34 m, but I don't know if it was measured accurate). Girth @ 1,3 m: 280 cm, @ 1,5 m (Belgian measuring height) 273 cm.

2. London Plane - Platanus x hispanica . Height: 39,8 m (130,6 ft), girth @ 1,5 m: 508 cm. Many other plane trees of around 33 - 36 m and up to 5,5 m girth.

3. Common oak - Quercus robur - Chene "Duc Prosper" - height 31,5 m (not 40 m, as mentioned on the Bel Trees list and on Wikipedia), girth @ 1,3 m: 724 cm, @ 1,5 m 704 cm.

4. Common oak at the Golf Course - height 28,4 m, girth 756 cm.

5. Giant sequoia - Sequoiadendron gignteum - height 36 m, girth @ 1,3 m: 800 cm, @ 1,5 m: 780 cm.
Two other Sequoia's of ~ 34 and ~ 35 m tall, we did not measure the girths.

I measured some other heights: copper beech: 37,6 m; common oak: 34,5 m; common ash - Fraxinus excelsior : ~ 38 m.
We did not see the ash of 48 m wich is reported on "bell trees". Small leaved lime - Tilia cordata : 34,5 m.

C. In the Sonian Forest we visited the forestreserve Kersselaerspleyn.
The Sonian Forest (Dutch: Zoniënwoud, French: Forêt de Soignes) is a 4,421-hectare (10,920-acre) forest that lies across the south-eastern part of city of Brussels.
The forest is part of the scattered remains of the ancient Charcoal Forest. The first mention of the Sonian Forest (Soniaca Silva) dates from the early Middle Ages.
In the 18th century it was still 10.000 hectare, but parts were used to create housing and agricultural areas.
The forests are in fact plantations of European beech ( Fagus sylvatica ), about 75 % and Common Oak ( Quercus robur ), around 15 % as well as small areas with conifers and other broadleaves.

The forest is on slightly rolling areas about 300 feet above seelevel with most loamy eolian loess souls, wich are quite fertile allthough they have become more acid and were there is stagnation of watertables in some places.

The Forestreserve Kersselaerspleyn was planted with beech in 1777 after clearcut. Since 1983 it is left without forestmanagement, it is an official forestreserve since 1995. Since 2005 the reserve is enlarged to over 200 ha.
The old core reserve has nearly only beech, in the newer parts of the reserve there are also many large oaks with DBH up to 110 cm and 30 - 35, perhaps 40 m height. Of many oaks the height was difficult to measure because of undergrowth with young beech. Tallest I measured was 35,8 m, but I am sure there are taller oaks.

In the core area we heightmeasured 9 out of the 18 trees marked by the forest-researchers of INBO (Institute for Nature and Forest Research in Flanders): Peter van de Kerckhove c.s. as well as another very large beech at the border of the reserve. We did not measure more trees because of lack of time.
We had a list with heights measured by the researchers in 2000 with Forestor Vertex and in October 2010 with a Lasertech Impulse Forest Pro instument, wich costs $1,895.00 at an American website and seems to be very accurate.

In 2000 beeches were measured up to 52 m (170,6 feet) wich seemed nearly unbelievable, but we new the Forestor Vertex hypsometer works with tangential methods.

The measurements of last week by Peter van de Kerckhove gave a maximum of 49,5 m (162,4 feet), still much taller then we had measured beech in the Netherlands. Because these were with laser, I was very interested.
My measurements with Nikon Forestry 550 laser were all lower. The difference was 2,1 to 7,1 meter (7 to over 23 feet) and between 4,42 and 14,34 %! So this was very strange. It was a pity we could not do the measurements together with Peter, to see wat was the reason. After mailing with Kouta, he wrote back that the Lasertech Impulse Forest Pro works with a reflector. This you cannot put on the leaves in top, so it will work like the Forestor Vertex with the reflector at the trunk, a tangential method. This explains the difference.

In my measurements of 10 beeches all were between 42 and 45,4 meter (between 137,8 and 149 feet). So I had at least a new lasermeasured heightrecord for European Beech ( Fagus sylvatica )!
The tallest measured beech at right: 45,4 m / 149 ft tall, girth @ 1,5 m: 328 cm / 10,46 ft; beech on the left: 44,6 m / 146,3 ft, girth @ 1,5 m: 402 cm / 13,19 ft.

The girth of the measured beeches was between 328 and 466 cm (10,46 and 15,3 feet) and some of them are quite massive.
Most beeches measured were neighbouring open areas were other large beeches have been windthrown in a big storm in 1990 and therefore easy to measure by laser.
The second tallest beech with massive trunk, height 45 m / 147,6 ft, girth @ 1,5 m 402 cm / 13,19 ft.


There are only few other tree species in the reserve exept for some Sycamore maple ( Acer pseudoplatanus ), some Hornbeams ( Carpinus betulus ) and a few ashes (Fraxinus excelsior). This can be explained by the planting of only beech in this part of the forest and the enormous dominance of beech in this kind of habitat in NW Europe.

Jeroen Philippona
by Jeroen Philippona
Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:49 am
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Re: some old trees in northern Germany


The tremendous girths of oaks, limes, sweet chestnuts, yew and plane trees in Europe are achieved by open grown trees in more or less cultivated situations. The largest limes (many in Germany, Switserland, Austria and the Chech republic) are often in villages and have got protection from the local people for centuries. The same is often true for the other species. Some of the largest girthed oaks have grown in open forests were herds of cattle (most cows, pigs, sheep) grazed, so an old type of cultural landscape. The oaks were protected by law by the community or landowners.
The largest girthed open grown trees of these species in Europe are often 7 to 12 and sometimes 14 - 18 m in girth. The largest open grown oaks ( Quercus robur and Q. petraea ) now are over 14 m. The largest girthed forest grown oaks in the old growth forest of Bialowieza, Poland are 745 and 730 cm. Of course these have longer trunks. There were probably few larger forest grown oaks in Europe in older times. Largest limes in Bialowieza are nearly 6 m cbh, while many open grown limes achieve 10 tot 15 m.

In the USA there is not such a long tradition of open grown trees in cultivated situations. So you are right that a centuries long protection in cultivated situations is the reason there are larger trees of these species in Europe.
Another thing is longeavity: Northern red oaks as well as the other red oak species do not become old enough to get such enormous girths. White and bur oaks can become older, perhaps in cultivated situations they can become larger than now can be found; you just need a longer tradition of protected open grown trees. The Wye oak was quite large, but probably less old than the attributed 460 years.
Beside the Live oak, wich grows fast and mostly in open situations, the Sycamore ( Platanus occidentalis ) is the best candidate to grow girths of over 8 m, while it grows rather fast and becomes old. Perhaps some of the now largest trees are over 300 years but will grow for some time more. In Greece and Turkey there are many of the related oriental plane tree ( Pl. orientalis ) of 10 to 14 m cbh and some even larger. Their age is not known but will probably be over 400 years, perhaps much more.
Without chestnut blight the American sweet chestnut probably could become just as large as the European species.
I don't know why there are no very large Tilia americana . Perhaps because the cultivation was not long enough or because the species does not grow as big as the European species.

by Jeroen Philippona
Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:39 am
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Re: The Sunderland Giant


A very impressive tree indeed, like the Pinchot. You posted more info on both in the past. I like to post photos of two of the largest Plane trees (Platanus x hispanica) of (old) England, the UK. These plane trees are thought to be hybrids of your sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and the Oriëntal Plane (Platanus orientalis) wich is native in Greece, Turkey and the Middle East to Iran. Still the origin of the hybrids is not totally clear. The oldest hybrid tees in NW Europe and the UK seem to date of the end of the 17th century. The biggest of all planes in Britain also seems to be the oldest: it is in the garden of the Bishop's Palace (wich is now a hospital) near the Cathedral in Ely (north of Camebridge). Bishop Gunning, who was at Ely from 1674 to 1684, is thought to have planted the tree at that time. It has a girth of 33 ft (10 m) at the smallest part of the trunk below three huge limbs. The girth is somewhat augmented by branche-swell. Its height is around 110 feet and the crownspread around 140 feet. When I visited it in July 2009 there was a private party of patients going on in the garden so I could only have a short visit to the tree.
Another huge plane is at Lydney Park, Gloucestershire. It is also around 110 ft tall, has a somewhat narrower crown and a trunk wich measured 9,6 m (31,5 ft) in april 2007. It has no recorded nor anecdotal history.
There are many plane trees of over 20 feet in the UK. The very mild Atlantic climate makes this possible. I suppose in New England sycamore trees grow slower than plane trees in the UK because of the much colder winters and notwithstanding the warmer summers.

by Jeroen Philippona
Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:26 am
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Re: Belgium: meeting on trees and tall beeches

Hello ENTS,

Saturday March 26th there was a nice meeting in the Sonian Forest. Three forrestors, three researchers of the Belgian Institute for Nature and Forest research (INBO) among who Peter van de Kerckhove, Leo Goudzwaard from Wageningen University (Netherlands), two Dutch arborists: Jeroen Snaaijer and Coen van Gompel, Marc Meyer from Tervuren Arboretum, Han and Gemma van Meegeren and Joost Werkhoven from Tilburg, Holland and Tim Bekaert, the maker of the website Monumental and myself were there to witness the climbing and measuring of the largest and one of the tallest European beech trees (Fagus sylvatica) of the Kerselaersplein Forest Reserve. Climbers were the two arborists Coen and Jeroen from the arborist firm 'Pius Floris' from the Netherlands. They are experienced in tree climbing, but for pruning, not in tall forest trees for measurement reasons, so for them this was a new experience.
They needed over half an hour before they had shot a line over the first branch at 80 feet height. After that the climbing was not to difficult.
Peter van de Kerckhove had chosen this tree: it was not only one of the tallest as well as the largest in the reserve, but it also looked good to be climbed. He had measured it the day before whit his Lasertech Impulse Forest Pro as 44.5 m (146 ft ); the cbh is 520 cm, 17,06 ft.
Leo, Marc and I now measured it with our Nikon Forestry 550 lasers and got around the same height. It was a rather difficult tree because of a broad crown, so that finding the tallest branch is not easy. Typically for beech is that measuring through the crown was not possible because of the dense branches.
The climbers had a measuring tape and an extandible telescope pole. Leo and Peter measured the tape at the forest floor while Marc and I tried to see if the pole was at the same height as the tallest treetop. This was not good to be seen, but Coen, who was at 41.3 m (135.5 ft) high in the tree tried to reach the pole exactly to the tallest top of the tree. So a next time we like to have a climber in a neighbouring tree as well to have a better vieuw.
The tape + pole measurement was 41.3 m + 4.35 m so in total 45.65 m / 149.77 feet. So now the tallest accurate measured beech in Europe is very near to 150 feet! The climbers all in all were 3 hours busy with the climb; because they also wanted to climb a tall Plane tree (Platanus x hispanica) elswere, they did not climb more beeches in the Sonian Forest.
With our lasers we measured several other beeches wich were also around 45 to 45.5 m, so perhaps there are some among them who reach over 46 m and over 150 feet. The beeches in this part of the forest were planted in 1777, so are now 234 years old.
Other species we measured in the Sonian Forest:
English oak - Quercus robur 41.6 m / 136.5 ft cbh 4.61 m / 15.12 ft. This oak was probably planted in the second half of the 17th century.
Norway maple - Acer platanoides 32.6 m / 106.96 ft cbh 2 m / 6.56 ft.
European ash - Fraxinus excelsior 37.6 m / 123.36 ft
European larch - Larix decidua 39.8 m / 130.58 ft
Giant sequoia - Sequoiadendron giganteum 45.6 m / 149.6 ft cbh 4.25 m / 13.94 ft - tallest of a small grove, planted in 1906.

Nearby the Sonian Forest is the Tervuren Arboretum: tallest measured tree there was a Grand fir, Abies grandis, 49.4 m / 162 ft tall.

by Jeroen Philippona
Sun Apr 03, 2011 5:33 pm
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Re: Belgium: Sonian Forest Meeting

Bob and Rand,

Thanks! European Beech is native in a great part of NW and midle Europe. It needs rather high rainfall, especially in the growth season, so in drier parts of Eastern and southern Europe it is not native. In the cool-temperate and moist parts of Europe it is often the most dominant forest tree. In the drier and hotter parts of Europe often several oak species are dominant. In the mountains beech is codominant in the middle regions, together with European ash, European maple (Acer pseudoplatanus, called Sycamore by the British!) and White Fir (Abies alba), higher up with Norway spruce. On poorer sites European larch and Scots pine are more commen.
Beech is growing very well troughhout the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Switserland, Austria, and the Carpatians in southern Poland, Chech Republic and Slovakija up to the Ukraïne as well as the mountains in Kroatia, Bosnia, Romania and Bulgaria.
So what is the centre of its development? I think within this region anywere with a rather mild and wet climate and good enough soils. I suppose best growth can be found on deep, fertile loess soils like in the Sonian Forest. Perhaps growth there is also a bit better than in northern Germany, wich is colder. Very tall beeches have been reported beside Belgium from France, Southern Germany, Slovakija as well as Bosnia and Romania. Actually in most of these countries it is the tallest native broadleaf tree, perhaps together with European Ash. Reported record heights for both species are about 46 to 49 or even 52 m, but sure measurements now to 45.65 m / 149.77 feet for beech and 44.8 m / 147 ft for ash.

by Jeroen Philippona
Wed Apr 06, 2011 10:37 am
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Re: Belgium: Sonian Forest Meeting


I did not see your question till now. While I am not at home now a short answere. Quercus robur is not among the very tallest trees in Europe. As far as we have reliable height measurements the ranking of the tallest native (and some european hybrids) species is about:

1. Picea abies - 59.2 m - Kouta, Germany (uncertain reports up to 65 m)
2. Abies alba - 57.35 m - Switzerland, fallen specimen (uncertain reports up to 65 m)
3. Platanus x hispanica - 48.56 m - England (measured by climbing with tape drop)
4. Fraxinus excelsior - 48.0 m - Germany, Kouta, this week!
5. Larix decidua - 46.8 m - Germany, Kouta
6. Fagus sylvatica - 45.65 m - Belgium, this report
7. Pinus sylvestris - 45.2 m - Poland, Bialowieza, Tomasz Niechoda
8. Quercus petraea - 44.6 m - Germany - Kouta, this week!
9. Quercus robur - 42.6 m - Poland, Bialowieza, Tomasz Niechoda
10. Populus x canadensis - 41.7 m - Netherlands
11. Populus x canescens - 39.1 m - Netherlands
12. Populus nigra - 38.6 m - Belgium
13. Ulmus glabra - 38.4 m - Poland, Bialowieza, Tomasz Niechoda (taller reports from the past, before Dutch
elm disease)
13. Populus nigra - 38.6 m - Belgium (tallest measured are Lombardian Poplars)
14. Alnus glutinosa - 37.3 m - Germany (also 37.2 m in Bialowieza, Poland, Tomasz Niechoda)
15. Acer platanoïdes - 37.2 m - Poland, Bialowieza, Tomasz Niechoda
16. Acer pseudoplatanus - 37.0 m - Netherlands (probably up to 40 m or more in middle Europe)
17. Tilia x europea - 36.8 m - Netherlands (probably up to 40 m or more in Germany, France, etc)
18. Tilia cordata - 36.2 m - Poland, Bialowieza, Tomasz Niechoda

Abies nordmanniana probably gets as tall or taller than Abies alba in the Caucasus, but we don't have reliable height measurements. The heights reported of 68 m seem rather reliable, but reports of 78 and even 85 m are very unsure. It is only native in the Caucasian mountains and eastern Turkey. In Western Europe there are no reports of planted trees taller than 42 m.

Of course there are also a lot of non native trees that get tall:
two species of Eucalyptus: 75 - 80 m (Portugal) and 67 m (Spain)
Abies grandis: 64.28 m - UK
Pseudotsuga menziesi: 63.79 m - UK
Picea sitchensis 59.0 m - UK
Sequoiadendron giganteum 54.5 m - UK
Liriodendron in Holland is only found up to 37.6 m (123.4 ft). Summers are probably to cool for great heights here; Northern red oak we have up to 39.6 m (130 feet) and White pine we have found up to 38.0 m (131 ft), so the N. Red Oak seems to be the tallest of your trees in the Netherlands. But it was planted a lot as a forest tree; Tulip tree only as an ornamental and White pine often gets some kind of desease.

We have two lists with European hight records on websites active now. One is at my own website: see
The list is rather complete for the Netherlands, but we have only few reliable data for other European countries.
It includes data from other sources such as the Tree Register of the British Isles: their data for the tallest conifers or mostly reliable while done with laser or climbing with direct tape drop. Their heightmeasurements of deciduous, broadleaf trees are often done with tangential methods, but they are improving, checking the tallest trees with laser.

The other list is the interactive database on the website of Tim Bekaert from Belgium: He accepts only heightmeasurements done with laser or with climbing with tape drop. Four persons from the Netherlands and one from Belgium place heightmeasurements on it. I have also placed some measurements of Kouta, Tomasz Niechoda and the British treeclimber Michael Spraggon on it.
We do not place data of other sources on it: people have to place them themselves or give us autorisation to place the data for them.

by Jeroen Philippona
Sun Apr 10, 2011 5:13 pm
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Bialowieza Forest, Poland April 2011

Between April 22 and 27 Leo Goudzwaard and I together with 4 other persons from the Netherlands visited the Bialowieza Forest. There we met Tomasz Niechoda, who for years now is making an inventary the big trees in the forest and especially in the Bialowieza National Park and served as a gide to find the most interesting places in the forest and the largest and tallest trees.
Oncemore I'll explaine the situation in this forest: nearly the half of the forest (58.000 hectare / 580 square kilometre = 145.000 acre or 224 square mile) is in Poland, over the half is in Belarus.
Of the Polish part, 10.502 hectare is the Bialowieza National Park (BNP). It is totally protected, so there is no tree cutting at all except for trees wich have fallen over the few paths inside the BNP.
Outside the BNP, there are 20 other nature reserves covering 3430 hectare (8575 acres). There are more reserves (at least 8500 hectare) proposed. Outside the BNP and the nature reserves harvesting of wood is still the case. For over 20 years there is quarreling between ecologists and wood companies about this. The politicians do not dare to deside the whole forest a nature reserve.
We had a great time, while Tomasz (Tomek for friends) had got permission to go for three days everywere in BNP with us in the parts normally closed for tourists.
There are 21 treespecies in the BNP. Of 11 species we measured heights: the others are either low species or scarse inside the forest or found only in special parts, like sessile oak (Quercus petraea) wich is only found in one reserve in the west of the forest. Of some of them we found new heightrecords for Bialowieza as well as Europe. Tomasz led us also to the tallest specimen he had found before of several species.
Here is a list with the height and girthrecords at the moment we left Bialowieza. We did not visit the tallest Norway spruces measured before by Tomasz, the tallest we measured was 48 m / 157.5 feet.

1. Norway spruce - Picea abies - 50.2 m / 164.7 feet - cbh 408 cm / 13.4 feet - Bialowieza heightrecord
- 47.0 m / 154.2 feet - cbh 442 cm / 14.5 feet - Bialowieza girthrecord
2. Scots pine - Pinus sylvestris - 45.3 m / 148.6 feet - cbh 210 cm / 6.9 feet - European laser-heightrecord
- 40.0 m / 131 feet - cbh 378 cm / 12.4 feet - Bialowieza girthrecord
3. European ash - Fraxinus excelsior - 44.4 m / 145.7 feet - cbh 408 cm / 13.4 feet - Bialowieza heightrecord
- 40.4 m / 132.5 feet - cbh 525 cm / 17.22 feet - Bialowieza girthrecord
4. English oak - Quercus robur - 43.6 m / 143 feet - cbh 385 cm / 12.6 feet - European laser-heightrecord (new found)
- 41 m / 134 feet - cbh 732 cm / 24 feet - Bialowieza girthrecord
5. Black alder - Alnus glutinosa - 39.2 m / 128.6 feet - cbh 280 cm / 9.2 feet - European laser-heightrecord (new found)
- 31.6 m / 103.7 feet - cbh 388 cm / 12.7 feet - Bialowieza girthrecord
6. European aspen - Populus tremula - 38.8 m / 127.3 feet - cbh ± 250 cm / 8 feet - European laser-heightrecord (new found)
- cbh 395 cm / 13 feet - Bialowieza girthrecord
7. Wych elm - Ulmus glabra - 38.4 m / 126 feet - cbh 385 cm / 12.6 feet - European laser-heightrecord
(dead tree of 39 m / 128 feet)
- 33.0 m / 108.27 feet - cbh 438 cm / 14.37 feet - Bialowieza girthrecord
8. Norway maple - Acer platanoides - 37.2 m / 122 feet - cbh 370 cm / 12.1 feet - European laser-heightrecord
34.8 m / 114.17 feet - cbh 413 cm / 13.54 feet - Bialowieza girthrecord
9. Small-leaved lime - Tilia cordata - 36.6 m / 120 feet - cbh 365 cm / 12 feet - European laser-heightrecord (new found)
- 32 m / 105 feet - cbh 585 cm / 19.2 feet - Bialowieza girthrecord
10.Silver birch - Betula pendula - 35.2 m / 115.5 feet - cbh 208 cm / 6.8 feet - European laser-heightrecord (new found)
- cbh 280 cm / 9.18 feet - Bialowieza girthrecord
11. Hornbeam - Carpinus betulus - 32.4 m / 106.3 feet - cbh 267 cm / 8.76 feet - Bialowieza heightrecord (new found)
- cbh 415 cm / 13.6 feet - Bialowieza girthrecord
Among the treespecies not measured were several willowspecies (Salix) tall specimen of wich are only to be found in special, wet parts of the forest we did not visit.

The European heightrecords of several species are probably found here because of at least two reasons:

1. Bialowieza is the largest old growth forest left in the lowlands of Europe outside the Boreal (northern) areas.
2. In many old forests in large parts of Europe no lasermeasurements have been done till now.
I think for several species taller specimen will be found in more southern countries with longer growing season, warmer summers, milder winters and / or heigher rainfall in the growing season. This was the case already for ash, were Kouta found taller trees in southern Germany.
Taller Norway spruces have been found in the mountains of middle and southeastern Europe with much higher rainfall.
Probably taller common oaks can be found in Kroatia if there have been left old enough forests. In the nineteen century the oak-ash forests in Kroatia were famous because of huge oaks but most of them have been felled before 1900.
The Bialowieza forests are comparatively open because there is no European beech (Fagus sylvatica), wich is a very agressive and dominant species in large parts of middle and western Europe. It is only native in western and southern Poland, were rainfall in summer is higher.
Several other species like large leaved lime (Tilia platyphyllos), field maple, sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), sweet cherry (Prunus avium), sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), etcetera also are no native in Bialowieza either because of the cold winters as well as cool, dry summers.

by Jeroen Philippona
Tue May 24, 2011 9:27 am
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Re: Bialowieza Forest, Poland April 2011

James, Jess and Kouta,

It was thanks to Tomasz' invaluable work to make an inventary of the big trees in the BNP as well as the whole Polish part of the forest and his offer to guide us for days into the forest that we got to see so much of it.
indeed it seems strange that the deciduous trees grow so large in a rather cool and dry climate. Perhaps one thing is that there is a lot of snow most winters wich gives rather much water in spring. Also, the largest trees grow on good loamy soils wich indeed have a good texture wich is able to moisture retention. While the summers are not very hot also the rather low rainfall is not that negative as it should be in a warmer climate.
Part of the largest trees are in riparian areas: the tallest black alder (Alnus glutinosa) indeed grow in riparian areas part of the year flooded. The largest and tallest ash trees also grow in riparian areas, but less wet than the alder. The tallest as well as the biggest oak as well as the tallest ash grow within a few hundred yards from each other rather near to a little river in a good loamy soil.
In this area we also measured the tallest lime as well as hornbeam. The tallest birch, aspen, Norway maple and Wych elm grow in comparable areas, were also grow tall, large Scots pine and Norway spruce. The tallest of all pines grow in an area somewhat sheltered while at the northeast gradient of a low hill; there were also tall spruces.
The size of the trees for the species is large: this can in part be explaned by the old age trees are able to reach. Especially oak is thought to become at least 400 years old. Research on Scots pine has shown there are pines over 350 years old.
Still, the oaks and limes are not larger than in other parts of Europe, there are only few forestgrown trees this large because they everywere were felled before growing to this size and age.
Large forest grown limes are very rare in Europe because they are not grown for woodproduction and because they were all cut to make place for more commercial species.
But in Germany and Great Britain there are open grown oaks and limes at least as large in volume. In France there are planted, forestgrown sessile oaks (Quercus petraea) probably taller than in Bialowieza, but not yet as large in volume, while being less old and planted very close to each other.
I think that if there were left old growth forests in the UK there should have been larger oaks than in Bialowieza because of the very mild and wet climate.
Bialowieza is at the eastern border of the native growing area of Quercus petraea, so it has only a small remnant population in one area of the forest. Quercus robur is growing much farther to the east, even to the Ural Mountains in Russia.
About old growth forest on level terrain and south of the boreal area: on the border of Russia an Ukraïne south of Moskou there is a rather large old growth forest wich perhaps is a bit comparable to the Bialowieza forest. At the moment I don't have the name and the exact location ready.

by Jeroen Philippona
Wed May 25, 2011 10:04 am
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Re: The tallest tree of Europe?

Here is a photo by Tomasz Niechoda of the tallest Scots pine in Bialowieza:
and the page with some other trees in the Bialowieza forest outside the National Park: This pine is very thin, cbh is only 6.88 ft / 210 cm; near it are some pines up to 44 m (144 ft) tall with cbh up to 340 cm / 11.15 ft.

This is the Dutch language version, the English version of this page did not work today, I'll ask the webmaster, Tim Bekaert, to do something about it.
This pine is very thin, cbh is only 6.88 ft / 210 cm.
Here is also the page on some trees inside the Bialowieza National Park, here the English page is working:
Till now I did not translate the text of the Dutch version into English, I hope to do that in the near future.
Tomasz Niechoda this summer found some new heightrecord trees of Norway spruce, European aspen, silver birch and small-leaved lime. The list is ordered at cbh, you can also make it ordered at height, by clicking above the table.

Many more trees with photos can be seen at the website of Tomasz Niechoda: Best is to look at the Polish language part, because he did not update the English version the last two years.
You can search for the biggest or tallest trees of 11 species.

by Jeroen Philippona
Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:08 am
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Re: Lake Champlain Valley and whopper cottonwoods


Beautiful and great trees, those cottonwoods! Those specimens seem to be planted. Is Populus deltoides much to be seen as a wild tree or more often planted? In Europe the related wild Populus nigra (we call it black poplar), became rare the last few centuries. Its native habitat are the banks of the larger rivers. While these often were regulated the natural habitat, the riverine forests, was destroyed in many parts of Europe. Also, Populus nigra was not much planted, while replaced by hybrid cottonwoods: P. nigra x P. deltoides, called P. x canadensis. Those hybrids grow faster and straighter, so here also the economic value was decisive.
So in my country the largest Populus trees are hybrids.
Here the biggest P. x canadensis of the Netherlands, cbh 7.78 m - 25.5 ft, height 35.2 m - 115.5 ft. It was probably planted around 1900, so now ± 112 years old.
In other countries there still are really huge old native black poplars, some over 30 feet in girth. In Hungary these still grow in natural habitats along the river Danube.
Here a very large, hollow and probably over 200 year old P.nigra in southern France, cbh 33 ft:
Zwarte Populierfrankrijk-10m.jpg
And a second one with cbh 31 ft. I don't know the heights of both trees.
Another one of over 30 ft cbh is reported to be 41 m (134.5 ft) tall, but it was not lasermeasured and I doubt this was right), see:
In Poland one of 27 ft cbh (but a double) was lasermeasured 38,10 m - 125 ft: see, wich is the tallest lasermeasured wild P. nigra till now. P. x canadensis lasermeasured heightrecord is 41.7 m - 136.8 ft, but very few have been measured outside the Netherlands.

by Jeroen Philippona
Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:22 am
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Tall oaks in the "Forêt de Bercé near Le Mans

In last April I visited France. I spent a week in the Morvan, an old, lower Mountain chain in Burgundy, some 150 miles southeast from Paris; for a great part the bedrock is granite with some slate, but especially in the northwestern part also limestone and marl can be found. Forests in the Morvan are a mixture of wood production plantations with Douglas firs and other exotic conifers as well as more native broadleaf forest with mainly European beech, mixed with sessile oak, pedunculate oak, Hornbeam and some European chestnut and Sycamore maple ( Acer pseudoplatanus )other species. Some of these beechforests are of rather natural species composition and have been declared a forest reserve, but none have old growth character.

The last two days I visited the Forêt de Bercé, a famous forest about 100 miles to the southwest of Paris and 20 km south from the town of Le Mans. This forest of 5380 hectare (13.450 acres) is one of the forests planted with Sessile oak ( Quercus petraea ) for high quality timberproduction during the reign of King Louis XIV (1643 - 1715) on command of his Minister Colbert.
The forest lies in an area with plateaus with an altitude of around 130 - 160 m above sea level but dissected by small river valleys going down to 100 m asl. The soil at the plateaus is deep sandy-loam to loam-clay brown earths, with parent material of flint clay formed in the Turonian. Soil is relatively acidic and relatively poor, but still of a good class of fertility (F.Lebourgeois et al. 2004). In the valleys soils are somewhat richer.
Still some parts with the original oaks, dating from 1680 - 1720, exist. Famous is the small reserve: "Futaie des Clos" of 8 hectare (20 acres) with still over 400 oaks planted in that period and located at a plateau.
The oaks should have been felled between 1903 and 1933, but in 1895 this area was declared a special forest reserve because of the special quality of its oaks; in 1930 this was declared to be one of the "Artistic reserves" for its special beauty.
In the publications about this forest always the very great hights of the oaks were mentioned. In 2006 the forester Yves Gouchet measured many of the oaks in the "Futaie des Clos" as well as in some other parts of the forest, probably with a Vertex hypsometer,a tangent style of instrument. He measured several oaks of over 43 meters (141 ft), among wich two of 45 m (147.6 ft), one of 47 m (154.2 ft) and one of 50 m (164 ft). In a later publication after remeasuring this was mentioned as 49.5 m (162.4 ft).
Before I went to France I tried to get in contact with mr. Gouchet, but failed. Backwards this was because mr. Gouchet retired as a forestor in January 2012. When I was back in Holland I got e-mail contact with mr. Gouchet. He sended me a mail of other forestors, who had measured another oak of 49.0 m (160.76 ft) in the "Futaie des Clos". They also wrote that LIDAR surveys of the forest will be held soon. They wanted to have exact GPS positions of several of the oaks.

In a publication in 2004 by François Lebourgeois c.s.: Climate-tree-growth relationships of Quercus petraea Mill. stand in the Forest of Bercé ("Futaie des Clos", Sarthe, France) the medium height of 81 oaks in the "Futaie des Clos" was given as 45.2 m (148.3 ft). The measuring method alas was not given but very probable was also with a Vertex Hypsometer, the most common used hightmeasurement instrument used by European forest researchers and forestors between 1995 and 2010.
So at the 28th of April in the beginning of a rainy evening I visited the first location in the forest: here the second tallest oak was reported by mr. Gouchet, called the "Chêne Emery", wich should be easy to find. On the way to it at a plateau stood only light and relatively low oak forest (hight around 20 - 22 m (70 ft); but then a small road turned into a small valley descending towards the east. Here I saw much taller forest of sessile oak and beech. A first laser shot gave 38 m (125 ft), so much better). Then I saw down in the valley towards the "Fontaine de la Coudre" a nice forest of very tall and rather big oaks as well as beeches.
The "Chêne Emery" is marked by a signpost and is surrounded by a fence. I made many measurements with my Nikon Forestry 550 laser ranger (for Robert Leverett: without the 3-point tangent method). It was good to be measured, while it is near to he small road were can be got good sights of the tallest tops from several points. After many measurements I concluded it to be around 47.4 meters - 155.5 ft. This was a new lasermeasured record for Quercus in Europe! The cbh was 341 cm - 11.19 ft. Several other oaks in this valley near the "Fontaine de la Coudre" were 43 tot 44 m (141 - 144.4 ft) tall with cbh of 370 - 400 cm (12 - 13.1 ft). The tallest European beech here I measured as 41.4 m (136 ft). Beeches were younger than the oaks and planted to get long clean oak trunks. Indeed the trunk of the Emery Oak is 29 m (95 ft) clean till the first branches.
At the signpost the hight of this oak is given as 47.75 m (156.66 ft) so not much different from my measurement. Its age is given as around 265 years in 2007, so planted around 1742: this part of the forest is somewhat younger than the "Futaie des Clos".
At April the 29th I visited two other parts of the forest, the above mentioned "Futaie des Clos" and another valley, called the "Sources de l'Hermietiëre". Here the oak of 49.5 or 50 m was reported. Indeed this was a very beautiful forested valley with a small stream flowing from west to northeast. So this was a very sheltered location. At once I saw this forest was very promising: the first oaks and beeches I measured were around 42 m (138 ft) tall. As I walked along the stream I measured an oak of 43.3 m (142 ft) with cbh of 374 cm (12.27 ft).
I measured several more oaks up to 44 m (144.36 ft). A few hundred meters to the west I found a taller oak. It was difficult to find the highest tops, while it was already well in leaf and surrounded by other oaks and beeches. In the end I concluded it to be 46.0 m (150.9 ft) tall, with cbh of 366 cm (12 ft).
The thinner oak beside it (cbh 313 cm (10.27 ft) till then I had not given much attention, but when I measured the tallest tops of it, it was found to be taller even! The highest tops I was able to measure gave me consequent 48.4 m (158.79 ft), as far as I know a new record height for any oak lasermeasured in Europe!
This is 4.8 m (15.75 ft) taller than the tallest lasermeasured common oak ( Quercus robur ) in the more natural forest of Bialowieza in Poland and 3.8 m (12.47 ft) taller than the former tallest Quercus petraea measured by Kouta Räsänen in Kelheim Forest, Germany.

If we disregard the very exotic Eucalypts in Portugal and Spain this is even the second tall broadleaf tree in Europe measured by laser or climbing with direct tape drop as far as we are aware of! Only one London plane ( Platanus x hispanica ) of 48.56 m (159.3 ft) measured by climbing with direct tape drop, is a bit taller. But to now this fir sure some of the tallest of these oaks should be climbed!
In the USA only one specimen of Cherrybark oak ( Quercus pagoda ) in Congaree was measured to be taller, but of the white oak group no tree has been measured as tall before.
The tallest beech I measured was 44.6 m (146.3 ft), not a new record but still quite good.

In the "Futaie des Clos" I found oaks up to 44 m (144.3 ft); I spend only 1½ hour here, probably some of the oaks in this part will be taller, but I doubt if the tree reported to be 49.0 m in this part in reality is that tall. Also he mean hight of 45.2 (148.3 ft) reported in the publication I cannot confirm. I think the mean hight of the old oaks (I measured cbh of up to 434 cm / 14.24 ft) will be between 40 and 43 m (130 and 140 ft).
The exceptional hight of the oaks in the Forest of Bercé can be explained by very good, deep soil, optimal for Quercus petraea , good water supply, mild climate with mild winters, little snow and long growing season, but also by the very close planting of the oaks with high competition to get very long trunks. Very much of the growing energy went in the heightgrowth: the oaks show a 1 mm medium diameter-growth increment each year from 1810 to the present, rather slow.

Although my measurements are far from complete and can be done better with more time, better equipment and measuring before the trees come in leaf, it looks like that the tallest oaks cannot be found in the "Futaie des Clos", wich is on a plateau, although there the oldest oaks in the forest can be found. The two extra sheltered valleys at the Source de l'Hermitiëre as well as the "Fontaine de la Coudre" seem to have the best growing conditions to grow the tallest oaks.
The oak recently measured of 49 m in the Futaie des Clos should be measured also with laser or better still by climbing with tape drop. Also I am not sure if the oak measured by Yves Gouchet as 49.5 or 50 m is the same as the one I measured as 48.4 m. We have to go back there in comany with the French researchers, with good equipment and a few climbers!

Jeroen Philippona
by Jeroen Philippona
Fri May 18, 2012 9:37 am
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Re: Wiltshire oak tree declared UK's tallest

Hi Larry,

This oak seems not to be very tall to you, compared to the up to 160 ft oaks in Congaree, but that is an old growth area much more to the south. The UK has no old growth forests left (the nearest old growth oak forest is the Bialowieza forest in Eastern Poland), and, unlike France and Germany, it has no tradition of old planted oak forests for high quality woodproduction.

In the Bialowieza old growth forest there are may oaks of 40 - 42 m (131 - 138 ft) and the laser record is 43.6 m (143 ft), wich is till now the laserrecord for Europe for that species. In the Netherlands the two tallest measured oaks are a Quercus robur of 41.8 m and one of 40.0 m (137.14 and 131 ft). In Belgium the record is 40.6 m (133.2 ft).
In France the tallest lasermeasured oaks are Quercus petraea, in the Forest of Bercé 48.4 m (158.8 ft), in the Forest of Tronçais 43.4 m (142.4 ft). Those are all planted forests, with a known planting history from the time of King Louis XIV, 1680 - 1700.
In Germany Kouta measured 44.6 m (146.3 ft) for the same species.
The two species are very related, there are some ecological differences but Q. petraea indeed tends to grow taller, with longer trunks.
The tallest American northern red oak (Q. rubra) we measured in Europe till now is 39.6 m (130 ft) in the Netherlands.

by Jeroen Philippona
Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:28 pm
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The Prašnik Oak Forest in Croatia

Prašnik Oak Forest

At June 21 2012 we visited the Prašnik Special Reserve, an oak forest near Stara Gradiška, Croatia. This is a rather small (53.35 hectare) remnant and the only uncut part of the once huge virgin Slavonian oakforests along the Sava and Drava rivers.

This then nearly uninhabited area was settled by the Austro-Hungarian administration as a buffer-zone towards Turkey-occupied Bosnia. The history of the Slavonian oak forests is the history of vanishing of the last primeval forests in the Central European lowlands.
The Croatian-Slavonian Military Fronticr District registered in 1746 approximately 741 thousand hectares of virgin oakforests. Although the quality of the "Slavonian oak" was already known since the middle ages, exploitation on a larger, and ever increasing scale started only in the late 18th century.
The Slavonian oakforests were famous because of their high quality timber and the great dimensions the oaks could attain. In 1900 at the world exhibition in Paris a Slavonian oak stem section was displayed with a diameter at breast hight of 260 cm and a volume of 64 m3.

Originally the Slavonian floodplain forests were inundated every year and often for a long time in winter and spring. Research has revealed that (beside the pionier willows and poplars) from all hardwood treespecies Pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) can widstand flooding for the longest periods. This gave them a great advantage to other species like ash, elm, maples and hornbeam. The Slavonian oaks were from a special genetic type, very diverse but also late coming into leaf so even less susceptible to flooding in late spring.
The forest probably was rather open in the past and oak could regenerate here.
Because of measures against flooding this natural advantage for oak has vanished.

In the 1920's only 7500 hectares of the virgin oakforests had not been destroyed, but even these were cut. Only the tiny Prašnik forest of 53.35 hectares was left and declared a reserve. Oaks over 300 years old can be found here. The forest can not really be called virgin / pristine / primeval or old growth: the Sava river is behind dikes now and has not flooded this area for 60 years. The water tables are much lower than a century ago, because of the dikes, agricultural measures and also the climate change, resulting in warmer (and dryer?) summers (information Mrs Katica Nuspahić).
In Prašnik during recent decades Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) has become much more prevalent, forming a dense second layer in the forest. Oaks can no longer regenerate in these circumstances. Many of the older oaks have died, probably because of the lower water table.
In the forest a few other tree species can be seen, among them Black Alder (Alnus glutinosa), Field Elm (Ulmus minor) and Field Maple (Acer campestre) and at relatively high locations a few large, old beeches (Fagus sylvatica).
We were able to visit this forest reserve thanks to Mrs. Katica Nuspahić, forest engineer of the Croatian Forestry Institute and Mr. Krunoslav Szabo, head-forester of Okučani Forest Office. They guided us in the forest and gave a lot of information.
Part of the forest is still suspected of land mines form the Croatian Serbian war in 1991-1992.
The reserve has suffered from a much lower water table in the reserve the last decades, because of dykes along the Sava river, agricultural measures and climate change. Many oaks have died or are dying and now hornbeam is increasing greatly wich limites the rejuvenation of oaks.

In the Slavonian floodplain now many more oak forests can be seen, but none of them are original old growth forests. Several of them have been planted from the mid nineteenth century. Especially in the eastern part of Croatia there are again large and beautiful oak forests with trees of around 150 years, which make a natural impression and are ecologically very valuable.
We measured the largest oak in the forest. It was 39.6 m (130 ft) tall with cbh of 730 cm (23.95 ft) @ 1.5 m (782 cm (25.39 ft) @ 1.3 m). Estimated age around 300 - 350 years, total wood volume at least 50 m3. Michael made about 200 photos to send to Michael Taylor to make a 3-dimensional model of the tree to estimate the volume.
The large buttresses give the impression the oaks grew up in a relative wet situation with high water table; the area in that time perhaps was rather often flooded by the Sava river.
There are more oaks of over 6 m girth in Prašnik forest. The height of most oaks we measured was between 35 and 38 m. They look as if they have grown up under rather open circumstances, not with a great density of the forest. Compared to the oaks in the Białowieża primeval forest in Poland they have shorter trunks, the crowns begin at a lesser height.

Jeroen, Kouta and Michael 2012.
by Jeroen Philippona
Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:01 pm
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Introduction - Balkans Expedition 2012

Introduction - 2012 Expedition to the region of former Yugoslavia

This year from June 19th to July 3rd Kouta, Michael Spraggon (treeclimber from England) and Jeroen made a very nice trip to four of the former Yugoslavian countries: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Our aim was to visit several old growth forests as well as some outstanding individual trees in each of these countries.

We visited eight locations, among which were five old growth forests, and measured and photographed many trees. At several locations we were guided and informed by local people, sometimes experts. Two outstanding trees were climbed by Michael. During the two weeks we discovered some very interesting results.

Michael is making a travelogue of the whole trip and Kouta and I have written ‘technical reports’ about each of the locations visited.

We will send the travelogue and corresponding reports in instalments as Michael finishes them.
These will be published on this forum in their entirety, but the reports can also be found within the forum sections for each of the four countries. The reports will be as follows:

A. The travelogue, in seven chapters.

B. The technical reports (in chronological order as we visited them):
1. The Sgerm spruce in Slovenia
2. The Prašnik Oak Forest in Croatia, remnant of the once huge primeval Slavonian Oak Forests
3. The Oriental Plane trees at Trsteno, Dubrovnik, Croatia
4. The Biogradska Gora National Park with primeval forest reserve, Montenegro
5. The Crna Poda black pine forest and a forest reserve near Žabljak, both in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
6. The Perućica primeval forest reserve in Sutjeska National Park, Bosnia & Herzegovina
7. The Plitvice National Park in Croatia

Michael, Kouta and Jeroen
by Jeroen Philippona
Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:07 am
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The Trsteno Planes - largest trees of Europe?

The Trsteno Planes – largest trees of Europe?

At the second European Champion Tree Forum, October 2011 in Bonn, Germany, two of the participants, the tree experts Aubrey Fennell of Ireland and Jeroen Pater from the Netherlands were talking about a huge Oriental Plane tree (Platanus orientalis) in Trsteno, near Dubrovnik, Croatia. They thought that it could be the tree with the largest wood volume in Europe, larger even than the great Oak of Ivenack in Germany, which was thought to be at least the largest tree in Northern Europe.
Jeroen Philippona had heard this and received measurements from Mr Fennell, who had visited the tree in 2005. With a hypsometer he had measured a height of 44 m and a cbh of around 12 m. He thought that the tree could have a volume of 150 to 200 cubic metres. A second plane tree beside it is nearly as large.

When planning our trip to the Balkans we decided to visit these Trsteno planes. We emailed the Dubrovnik Municipality, who own the trees, and with our references received permission to climb and measure the largest tree. On June 22 we arrived in Trsteno and met Nikolina Đangradović and Ivo Stanović, two officials of the Dubrovnik municipality.
As we admired the trees they gave us some information about their history, which centres around the tree nearest to the road, the largest of the two.
It is thought that in the early 16th century a Diplomat from Constantinople brought 5 young plane trees as a present which were planted near a spring in Trsteno and of which two have survived.

In 1806 Napoleon's army were about to invade Dubrovnik but were stopped at Trsteno by a huge limb shed from the tree. The local priest managed to convince the invaders that it wasn't done to stop the army but was a limb shed by the tree many years before. It took the army 2 days to cut the limb and clear the way. In those 2 days the government of Dubrovnik were able to negotiate with Napoleon and save the city from the French invaders - the tree had saved Dubrovnik!

50 years ago someone tried to remove a hornet nest in the hollow trunk by setting fire to it. It took the fire brigade an entire day to put out the blaze. According to Ivo part of the water entered the heart of the tree and damaged it.

20 years ago a car came off the road and crashed into the trunk. The car was wrecked and the 1 metre scar on the trunk is still there.

5 years ago a huge limb fell off and killed a French tourist. The plot was fenced off and 2 years later the crown was reduced by around 25% by a team lead by the German expert Bodo Siegert. According to Siegert the tree was originally 48.5 m tall and after the pruning just over 42 m, both measured by climbing with tape (with laser we could measure only 40.7 m at maximum, so we hesitate to trust the original figure). He thought the tree could have a volume of 200 to 250 m3!
A sonar study was done a couple of years ago on the limbs (but not the trunk as it is too large for sonar to penetrate). There are hollow spaces in the large limbs thought to have been caused by a fungus. There is blight on the leaves too. According to Siegert a lack of funds prevented other urgent soil and water situational measures from being carried out.
The second of the two huge Trsteno planes stands in a walled garden on the east side of the larger tree. Between the trees is a spring which has given the trees the possibility to grow to gigantic dimensions. Ivo Stanović informed us that the second tree lost a large part of its crown in high winds in 2003. Before that it was measured at 46 m tall (measuring method unknown). The tree is perhaps 10 to 20 % smaller in volume than its neighbour.
We measured the girth and height of both trees. Michael climbed the largest tree to make series of photos, which were to be sent to Michael Taylor to make a three dimensional point cloud to estimate the total volume. Michael did not climb to the top to measure the height with a tape drop.

Here are our measurements:

Tree 1.
Height: 40.6 – 40.7 m / 133 – 133.5 ft
Circumference @ 2.0 m: 10.75 m / 35.27 ft
@ 1.5 m: 11.73 m / 38.48 ft
@ 1.3 m: 12.10 m / 39.70 ft
@ 1.0 m: 12.91 m / 42.36 ft
@ 0.5 m: 13.91 m / 45.64 ft
Crown spread: 28 – 35 m / 90 – 115 ft

Tree 2.
Height: 33 m
Circumference @ 1.5 m: 11.39 m / 37.4 ft
@ 1.3 m: 11.54 m / 37.86 ft
Crown spread 26 – 35 m / 85 – 115 ft

Whilst we hope that with the photos Michael Taylor will be able to make a good volume estimate,
we have already made a very preliminary estimate of the wood volume:

The trunk to 15 m height could have a volume of around 100 cubic metres (3531 cubic feet), the rest of it another 10 m3. The limbs and branches could have a total volume of about 50 m3. So the total volume could be around 160 m3 = 5650 cubic feet.

The second tree could be about 130 to 140 m3 = 4500 – 5000 ft3.

Among other contenders for the largest tree in Europe that we know of are:

The Oak of Ivenack, Germany (Quercus robur) which is estimated at 120 to 140 m3 (4200 – 5000 ft3), a Sessile oak (Quercus petraea) at Croft Castle, England: estimated at 107 m3 (3800 ft3), (Robert van Pelt 2006), a few other oaks estimated at 90 – 100 m3 and several giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) in Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium and the UK of at least 100 – 110 m3.

Also some cedars of the Lebanon (Cedrus libani) in England, a European white fir (Abies alba) in Scotland and several European sweet chestnuts (Castanea sativa) in Spain, Italy and England have a possible total wood volume of around 100 m3. Very large oriental planes exist in Greece and Turkey, but exact volume estimates for these are not known.

The giant sequoias will, in a few decades, be the largest trees of Europe, but of Europe’s native trees the oriental plane trees of Trsteno are likely to remain the largest.

In Trsteno there is still more to see for the lover of trees. The nearby hills are full of Italian Cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens) of different shapes: very narrow ones as well as rough, broader types. Between the Plane trees and the Adriatic lies the famous and very old Trsteno Arboretum, dating from the fifteenth century, laid out as a beautiful renaissance garden with fountains, an old villa, and full of mediterranean tree species: various cypresses, palms, olive and citrus trees, Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis), oriental hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis), downy oak (Quercus pubescens), etc.
Besides this, the views over the Adriatic and Trsteno harbour are great!
Jeroen, Michael & Kouta

by Jeroen Philippona
Sat Nov 10, 2012 10:18 am
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Re: Biogradska Gora – two new broadleaf tree height records

Here is an attached list of the height- and girthrecords we found at our visit to Biogradska Gora.
Of several species we saw in the reserve (like Salix alba, Alnus incana, Acer platanoïdes and Quercus petraea) we did not make good measurements, so they are not included.


Biogradska Gora-Tree-list2012.doc
by Jeroen Philippona
Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:07 pm
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The Perućica Forest reserve in Bosnia Herzegovina

Perućica virgin forest reserve in Sutjeska National Park

In the National Park »Sutjeska« (17,250 ha) the strict forest reserve »Perućica« (1,434 ha) is located. Sutjeska can be found in the southern Dinaric Mountains in Bosnia and Herzegovina, near the border with Montenegro. In this mountainous area altitudes range from 500 m in the Sutjeska river valley to the top of Mount Maglic, 2386 m, the highest peak in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The climate is a mixture of Mediterranean and continental, with high precipitation of 1400 - 2000 mm, depending on altitude and exposition. The Perućica forest reserve mainly lies in the Perućica river basin at the NW slopes of Mount Maglic, between the Sutjeska Canyon at 600 and 1800 m.a.s.l. near Prijevor.
Geology is dominated by limestone on the slopes and cliffs surrounding the reserve and acidic sandstone and shale in the central area. Soils are also diverse and may be derived from a mixture of parent materials, especially were calcareous soils have eroded down slopes. Depending on altitude, slope position and soil conditions different forest associations have developed, different forest associations developed here (more than twenty), ranging from Carpinetum orientalis to Pinetum mughi.

In the lower parts of the reserve, below the Skakavac waterfall, the terrain is very steep. Here at altitudes below 1000 m grow forests of more warmth loving broadleaved trees like eastern hornbeam (Carpinus orientalis), hop-hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia), Turkey oak (Quercus cerris), downy oak (Q. pubescens) and other oak species, silver lime and large leaved lime (Tilia tomentosa and T. platyphyllos), manna ash (Fraxinus ornus) and common whitebeam (Sorbus aria). Because of lack of time and the steep terrain alas we did not visit this part of the reserve.

The largest and central part of the reserve, between 1000 and 1600 m.a.s.l. is covered by oldgrowth beech - fir forests, European beech (Fagus sylvatica) and European silver (Abies alba) here dominate heavily. Other species growing here are Norway spruce (Picea abies), sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), wych elm (Ulmus glabra), European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and near rivers black alder (Alnus glutinosa). Parts of the forest with deep soils are very dense, with large canopy trees up to over 40 m (broadleaves) and 50 m (conifers) and diameters to over 1 meter. In Perućica the famous Swiss forest researcher Hans Leibundgut in 1954 found a Norway spruce of 63 m tall, the tallest reported of this species in Europe.
We concentrated on this part of the reserve as here most record heights could be expected.

At high outcrops and cliffs black pine (Pinus nigra) is the most important tree but also mountain pine (Pinus mugo) is present. More than 170 species of trees and shrubs and over 1,000 species of herbaceous plants have been registered in Perućica.

Perućica is allowed to enter with a guide only. In the reserve there are no landmines from the the Bosnian War, the only area where they may occur is the lower end of the reserve (in Sutjeska Canyon, near the road). We visited Perućica for two days, led by our guide Vlado (Vladimir) Lalović.

The first day we started with the magnificent view over the Perućica valley with its great forest and the Skakavac waterfal from a ridge near Dragos Sedlo.
The area southeast of Dragos Sedlo and just south of the forest road from Dragos Sedlo to Prijevor was appointed to us by Vlado as the part of the Perućica primeval forest with the largest and tallest trees and the highest volume of the stands, up to more than 1000 cubic metre per hectare.
At a small plot Leibundgut found even as much as 1870 m3/ha of living wood. This forest is dominated by silver fir. Also important are beech and Norway spruce.
Other tree species are scarce, we saw a few wych elms as well as sycamore maples along the road. In this part of the forest also stand the "Three Sisters", a group of Norway spruces said to be the largest and tallest trees in Perucica. Actually, the largest of the three had fallen several years ago. According to the director of the Sutjeska National Park, mr. Zoran Čančar, this tree formerly had a height of 62 m (203 ft) and a diameter of 1.7 m / 5.6 ft (girth 5.34 m / 17.5 ft).
The second tallest Sister had been measured in 2005 and then was 54 m tall with a dbh of 1.55 m. Mr. Čančar ensured us there were no silver firs in the Perucica forest of this size.
The top of the second Sister is now dead and we found the tree only 49.5 m tall with dbh of 1.47 m, but we found several other spruces as well as firs which were larger and taller than the Two Sisters. In this area we found a maximum height of 52.0 m for spruce and even 52.9 m for silver fir and girths up to 5.3 m (17.4 ft) for both species.
Next day we went to the area near the confluence of the Perućica and Prijevorski river (1000 - 1100 m a.s.l.); there we found very tall trees of four species. Most slopes here are facing north to northwest and are relatively cool and moist. There are several sources and small rivers, so the trees have shelter and good water supply.
We found a maximum height of 57.4 m (188.3 ft) for Norway spruce (the second tallest of 56.6 m had a broken top and in the past it may have been a few meters taller) and 54.0 m (177.2 ft) for European silver fir. We think the greater hights here compared to the other area can be explained by the exposition: the area near the forest road is on a slope facing southwest to south while the area with the tallest trees is on a west to north facing slope. The tallest trees we find are nearly always on north facing slopes, while these are cooler and less dry in summer. Additionally, the altitude (around 1400 m) of the area near the road is probably too high for record breaking trees.
In the same area we measured for beech heights up to 44.2 m (145 ft), for sycamore maple to 39 m (128 ft).
PerucicaBroken Doublespruce1223.jpg
Largest trees we saw were the second tallest Norway spruce of 56.6 m (185.7 ft) with cbh of 5.28 m (17.3 ft) and a European silver fir of 52.0 m (170.6 ft) with cbh of 5.26 m (17.26 ft).
The volume of both trees we estimated as around 35 cubic m (over 1200 cubic feet).
We had possibility to explore only a small part of the potential record tree groves, so it is possible larger and taller trees can be found in the forest. To find this out several days of exploration of the forests along the Perućica river and the Prijevorski river from 1600 m downwards to the Skakavac waterfall should be necessary. Very helpful should be if there was done LiDAR research from a small airplane.
A few small clearings are scattered in the forest where localized cutting and grazing occurred in the past, but the influence of these areas on the surrounding stands seems to be rather localized.

Jeroen, Kouta & Michael

Leibundgut, H. (1982). Europäische Urwälder der Bergstufe. Dargestellt für Forstleute, Naturwissenschaftler und Freunde des Waldes. Verlag Paul Haupt, Bern und Stuttgart,
ISBN 3-258-03166-5.
Nagel and Svoboda (2008). Gap disturbance regime in an old-growth Fagus–Abies forest in the Dinaric Mountains, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Konrad Pintarič. Forestry and forest reserves in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
by Jeroen Philippona
Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:30 pm
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