Old forests are an integral component of our cultures and our legacy to future generations. They are vital for people who use them for sustenance or recreation and also to our forest's ecosystem and biodiversity because of the habitat they provide for wildlife. They are valued for their beauty and spiritual links. Old forests also provide unique ecosystem functions unparalleled in earlier succession forests that scientists are just beginning to document such as carbon sequestration, moisture retention, genetic diversity, and resilience to climate change and disease.
Old forests can be a window for us to the past. They can be sanctuaries, learning laboratories, and benchmarks for comparisons to younger forests on the landscape. Some organisms which have unique relationships with old forests and old forests features include some mosses, cavity nesting birds and cavity nesting mammals as well as bacteria and lichens. Some plants can be found in higher abundances in older forests than in younger ones.
The Mi'kmaw word for old forests would be Sa'qawey Nipukt but an elder tree could also be called kogŭm transliterated to Qokm or Kokm. A common ending for tree related words is okn so some Mi'kmaw linguists suspect that is the provenance for kogŭm.
Early European writers like John Stewart in PEI and Titus Smith in Nova Scotia from 1806 and 1802 described forests dominated by climax tree species of great size. Best estimates now document a very small percent of the landbase with forests that meet even the most basic definitions of old forests.
* Owen, Rochelle J., Peter N. Duinker, and Thomas M. Beckley. 2009. Capturing old-growth values for use in forest decision-making. Environmental management 43: 237-248.