Forest structure and fire history in an old Pinus nigra forest, eastern Spain

Peter Z. Fulé, Montserrat Ribas, Emilia Gutiérrez, Ramón Vallejo, Margot W. Kaye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Wildfires have decimated forests of Pinus nigra in the Mediterranean Basin in recent decades, but little is known about the fire ecology of this native species. We sampled three small relict forest sites on Sierra Turmell, Castellón, Valencia, northeastern Spain, to determine forest structure and past fire events. The forest was characterized by relatively large and old trees (mean 158 year, max 362 year). Fire history was affected by obliteration of some fire scars, but we determined 11 fire dates in the past 172 years. The minimum fire-free interval was 2 years, maximum 57 years. Fire dates were not linked with dry climatic conditions, possibly due to occupational burning by pastoralists. Compared to inventory data averages for P. nigra in northeastern Spain (Catalunya), the old forest at Sierra Turmell supported over twice the basal area and over 2.5 times the biomass, with a comparable advantage in terms of carbon storage. Carbon sequestration, on the other hand, was over six times higher in the younger forests. The relict forest at Sierra Turmell provides evidence of multi-aged forest structure persisting through numerous surface fires over several centuries. This example may be useful for guiding management of younger forests and for ecological restoration of degraded areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1234-1242
Number of pages9
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Mar 20 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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