Definition of old growth / primary forest produced 

Sometimes hard to define. Even harder to protect.

A draft definition structure has now been produced to support objectives in the 2030 EU Biodiversity Strategy for protection and restoration of natural forest.

Applicable throughout Europe, this definition was initiated at the 2017 Brussels conference involving input from conservation and forestry interests among others.

It covers an overview of primary forest together with its constituent elements of old growth and virgin forest – the latter a narrower interpretation used mainly in Romania. 

Your feedback is welcome please:

  • Do you have any comments on the definition?
  • How readily could it be applied in your country?

Practical implementation

There is no single phrase or definition that encompasses the diversity of primary/old growth forest in Europe. Instead adoption of a definition structure is recommended, based on sets of identifiable criteria. 

This enables a practical, flexible but standardised approach to natural forest conservation regardless of biogeographical or cultural circumstance.

The definition focuses the need for adequate landholder compensation where relevant, seeking to build a consensus from common ground between conservation and forestry sectors. 

It also corresponds to the format used by the Sabatini et al in its mapping programme.