Changes in unmanaged semi-natural stands in Langley Wood NNR were quantified between 1986-96 by means of two permanent transects. The most abundant trees were oak from retained standards, maiden birch, lime and hazel from stump sprouts, ash from recent advanced regeneration, and hawthorn from stump sprouts and seedling regeneration. Changes since c1940 and between 1986-96 were typical of the stem exclusion stage of stand development. The canopy remained largely closed. Stand basal area increased. Living stem density decreased. The girth of surviving stems increased. Smaller diameter stems tended to grow more slowly, occupy lower strata, show more dieback, and suffer higher mortality rates than larger ones. Contrasts were observed between 1986-96 in the performance of major woody species. Lime gained in importance, birch increased little in importance, oak continued to dominate in terms of basal area, and ash began to assert itself. Hazel increased its domination of the underwood, hawthorn increased slightly in numbers. Three exotic species, rhododendron, sweet chestnut, and sycamore, failed to regenerate successfully, but large existing individuals developed vigorously. Grey squirrels bark-stripped several sycamore and beech and stem debarking by deer was very small-scale. Most standing and fallen dead wood was small and large material remained extremely scarce. Slow-decaying oak and fast-decaying birch accounted for most of the volume. Accumulations remained low compared to undisturbed virgin forests, but similar to comparable near-natural woodland in Britain. Turnover of standing material was high and decay appeared rapid.
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