What is an old-growth forest and how is it different from other forests?
Muir Woods is the only old-growth coastal redwood forest in the Bay Area and one of the last on the planet. It is estimated that nearly 2 million acres of forest just like Muir Woods once covered a narrow strip along the coasts of California and Oregon. Today, 97% of this has been impaired or altered and most coastal redwoods now grow on protected second and third growth forests or managed timber plantations. Thanks to William Kent's preservation efforts, Muir Woods was spared this fate and remains as a very accessible yet prime example of an old-growth forest.
The term old-growth is difficult to define. Old-growth cannot solely be determined by size or age of the trees within a forest because these qualities vary widely with species. However, there are four characteristics that slowly develop through time, and together define an old-growth forest.