baumzaehlen - Primeval Forests & Their Trees

©2017copyright christoph hase

Dobroč National Nature Reserve, Slovakia

The reserve was established as early as 1912 1. The area was originally 50 ha and was later enlarged to 102 ha 1. The main tree species in the original part are Opens internal link in current windowFagus sylvatica (European beech) and Opens internal link in current windowAbies alba (European silver fir). The newer part is dominated by Opens internal link in current windowPicea abies (Norway spruce). There are only a few further tree species, all being easy to identify. The original part is otherwise very close to its natural state1, but A. alba seedlings are missing – a result of herbivore over-population in this region. Of the Central European montane forest tree species, A. alba is the most heavily browsed, followed by Opens internal link in current windowAcer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple), while F. sylvatica and P. abies are only slightly damaged2. The proportion of A. alba in the reserve has decreased during the last decades1 and will further decrease if the herbivore pressure remains high. The situation is much better in eastern Slovakia (see Opens internal link in current windowStužica National Nature Reserve). The newer part of the reserve is less natural. There is an overgrown old road through the reserve.


The forest is productive and all the tree species reach great heights. Especially for A. alba, the reserve seems to be an optimal site. My Opens external link in new windowsearch for tall trees in 2015, using a Nikon Laser 550A S instrument, revealed following maximum heights: P. abies 58.1 m, A. alba 56.1 m (the tallest laser-measured in the world!), F. sylvatica 46.4 m and A. pseudoplatanus 39.1 m. There are several P. abies and A. alba trees at least 54 m tall. Of the deciduous trees, I measured only a few individuals, so still taller trees may well exist. An A. alba tree fallen a few decades ago had a diameter of 193 cm and a volume of 55 m3 1. A. alba reaches here the age of 450 years, P. abies approx. 350 and F. sylvatica 220–250 years 1.


The reserve is located on a north-facing slope at elevations 720–1000 m. Annual precipitation is 890960 mm and average annual temperature 4.55°C 3. The soils are productive.


A hiking trail touches the northern boundary of the reserve.




1       Korpel’, Š. (1995): Die Urwälder der Westkarpaten. Gustav Fischer Verlag.

2       Standovár, T. & Kenderes, K. (2003): Opens external link in new windowA review on natural stand dynamics in Beechwoods of East Central Europe. Applied Ecology and Environmental Research 1(1–2): 19–46.

3       Saniga, M. & Schütz, J.-P. (2001): Opens external link in new windowDynamik des Totholzes in zwei gemischten Urwäldern der Westkarpaten im pflanzengeographischen Bereich der Tannen-Buchen- und der Buchenwälder in verschiedenen Entwicklungsstadien. Schweiz. Z. Forstwes. 152 10: 407–416.


Abies alba (European silver fir) - Fagus sylvatica (European beech) forest. Two 54-metre A. alba on the left.
Abies alba (European silver fir) and Fagus sylvatica (European beech, with smooth grey bark).
Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple, right centre), height 39.1 m, girth 292 cm. Other trees: Abies alba (European silver fir) and Fagus sylvatica (European beech).