Remnants of pristine forests are usually understood to be non-urban forests, far outside the impact area of cities. They can, however, occur as periurban woodlands and even as isolated urban woodlands in the centers of cities. An example of the latter is the oak-hemlock forest that today lies in the middle of the Bronx as a part of the New York Botanical Garden; it represents a remnant of the vast forests that once covered the East Coast of North America (McDonnell and Rudnicky 1989).
In the middle of urban areas, and farther away as well, such remnants of pristine forests are not usually free from human influences. As a rule they are affected by anthropogenic depositions, by at least minor historic or
contemporary forestry uses or by recreation activities. Though a few cultural influences may have an effect on them, it is fundamentally the natural processes of the site and stand dynamics which shape their species composition and structure. An additional important feature of remnants of pristine forests is their high habitat continuity. This makes possible, among other things, the presence of less mobile animal and plant species that are described as specialists of old forest sites (Peterken 1974, 1994; Verheyen et al. 2003; Wulf 2003).
Table 2. Historical differentiation of woodlands according to the history of their development and use. The four types of woodlands vary conspicuously in terms of the agency of natural versus cultural mechanisms and in their habitat continuity. The forest types are further classified according to the “four natures approach,” see text for explanation). H – Habitat continuity; N – Agency of natural mechanisms; C – Agency of cultural mechanisms
Types of Types of Types of H N C
forests ecosystems “nature”
Remnants of Pristine ecosys – pristine forests tems
Ecosystems Nature 2:
shaped by silvi – “traditional cul-
/agriculture tural landscape”