Defining old growth in the Southeast: example of cypress
There is a lot of misunderstanding over what comprises an old growth stand, because there is no well accepted definition of old growth. Malcolm Hunter proposed a broad conceptual definition: "old-growth forests are relatively old and relatively undisturbed by humans." Because there can be large differences among forest types, Hunter suggested that specific definitions for each forest type could be derived from the broad definition and that age and disturbance criteria that may be ecologically significant could be modified to form locally appropriate definitions. This is the approach that the USDA Forest Service has taken. In this paper the authors review the process of defining old growth in the Southeast, the format for the definitions of old growth forest type groups, and the progress that has been made, and they discuss an example of one forest type group: the cypress-tupelo type.