We Sauntered upon the following on page 6 of the April 2018 issue of The Highlands Conservancy, the monthly publication of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, explaining that in importance old-growth forests are so unlike forests that are cut for timber that they should be considered an altogether different thing:
Old growth forests are important for the ecological role they play. The old-growth stage of a forest’s life is especially important because of its unique structure. Various canopy layers and berry-producing plants are beneficial for many bird species. In a forest that has not been disturbed for hundreds of years some trees will develop hollow cavities, these cavities become important nesting places for animals. In an undisturbed forest some large trees will die and fall, creating yet more habitat: numerous insects, fungi, reptiles and amphibians benefit from the fallen trees. The moisture retained within old-growth forests benefits lichen and mosses, and the species that live among the mosses and lichens. Old-growth forests are one of the few land uses where topsoil is created instead of destroyed. More carbon and nitrogen are retained in an old-growth forest than in forests of other age classes. For improving water quality and air quality there is nothing better than an old-growth forest.