baumzaehlen - Primeval Forests & Their Trees

©2017 copyright christoph hase

Lagodekhi Strict Nature Reserve, Georgia

The reserve was established as early as 1912, thus being the second oldest protected area in the whole former Soviet Union 1 . The reserve was closed to the public until the breakup of the Soviet Union 1 . Today its area is 179 km 2 lying between elevations 590–3500 m.

Beautiful pristine 2 East Caucasus broadleaf forests can be found here. The tree flora is slightly richer than in western Europe in similar sites but lower than in eastern North America and especially eastern Asia 3 . For information about tree identification, see Opens internal link in current window Borjomi Strict Nature Reserve . On the foothills, Opens internal link in current window Fagus orientalis (oriental beech) and Opens internal link in current window Carpinus betulus (European hornbeam) dominate. 30-metre C. betulus trees are common; their broad crowns form an arching roof above a well-developed shrub layer. F. orientalis reaches 40 m at most here. Abundant moss grows on tree trunks indicating a moist climate. Climbers occur, as well. Steep slopes are often covered by Opens internal link in current window Quercus petraea subsp. iberica (sessile oak) – C. betulus forest. The uppermost forest zone is occupied by low forest or krummholz consisting of species such as Opens internal link in current window Betula pubescens var. litwinowii (Caucasian downy birch), Opens internal link in current window Quercus macranthera (Caucasian oak) and Opens internal link in current window Sorbus aucuparia (European rowan). The upper mountain ridges were originally outside the reserve and extensively grazed; now forest is slowly reclaiming these areas 4 . Also the low-elevation flats along rivers were originally not protected; now they have a loose protection status “Managed Reserve”.

The slopes are steep. The slope forests have abundant openings, which are covered by thorny Rubus thickets. Annual precipitation is approx. 1000 mm on the foothills and exceeds 2000 mm on the upper slopes 4 . Average annual temperature at low altitudes is approx. 12°C.

There are many hiking trails. Staying overnight is allowed in huts and tent in a few places, all located on the upper mountain ridges.

References :

1 Krever, V. et al. (eds.) 2001: Biodiversity of the Caucasus Ecoregion. An Analysis of Biodiversity and Current Threats and Initial Investment Portfolio. WWF.

2 Nakhutsrishvili, G. (2013): The Vegetation of Georgia (South Caucasus). Springer.

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Official site:

Lower slope forest with Fagus orientalis (oriental beech) and Castanea sativa (sweet chestnut, right, girth 396 cm).
The pale crowns on the slope are seeding Tilia dasystyla subsp. caucasica (Caucasian linden). The riparian gap in the foreground is indicated by several dying trees.
Fagus orientalis (oriental beech).
Dry stream bed. Fagus orientalis (oriental beech) and Acer cappadocicum (Cappadocian maple, right centre, covered with climbers).
Forest on alluvial flat. Two Fagus orientalis (oriental beech) in the foreground. In the background mainly Carpinus betulus (European hornbeam).
34.2-metre Acer velutinum (velvet maple). Also Tilia dasystyla subsp. caucasica (Caucasian linden, left) and Acer campestre (field maple, right).
37.5-metre Acer velutinum (velvet maple). The other tall trees are also A. velutinum . Fagus orientalis (oriental beech) foliage.
39-metre Alnus glutinosa subsp. barbata (black alder) on river bank. Also 37.6-metre Acer velutinum (velvet maple, left).
Two Acer species in the foreground: A. platanoides (Norway maple, left) and A. campestre (field maple).
27-metre Acer cappadocicum (Cappadocian maple) surrounded by Fagus orientalis (oriental beech).
Some tree species at lower elevations.