• Ground vegetation;
  • Old growth forest;
  • Permanent plot;
  • Picea abies;
  • Protected forest;
  • Vegetation change
  • Nomenclature follows Lid & Lid (1994) for vascular plants, Frisvoll et al. (1995) for bryophytes, and Krog et al. (1980) for lichens except that, in our study, Cladina is separated from Cladonia at the genus level

Abstract. Vegetation data from permanent plots were collected in 1931, 1961 and 1991 in a south boreal forest 20 km north of Oslo in southern Norway. Major changes were found in the vegetation composition during those 60 years. The main changes were a reduction in the frequency of species and the frequency of joint occurrences of vascular species such as Andromeda polifolia, Calluna vulgaris, Cornus suecica, Eriophorum vaginatum, Maianthemum bifolium, Melampyrum pratense, Trientalis europaea, Vaccinium uliginosum and V. oxycoccus, and mosses, e.g. Dicranum fuscescens, Hylocomium splendens, Pleurozium schreberi, Ptilidium ciliare and Ptilium crista-castrensis.

The observed changes were interpreted as being induced by internal processes e.g. notably a long-term change from paludified forest to mesic forest. In particular the growth of Picea abies seems to be a main driving force. The dominance of Picea abies and Vaccinium myrtillus appears to have rendered the conditions more unfavourable for other species. A doubling of the living stem biomass of P. abies during the last 67 yr shows that this old-growth forest has not yet reached a steady state. It was demonstrated that species such as Deschampsia flexuosa and Molinia caerulea did not increase in frequency in response to nitrogen deposition, as has occurred elsewhere in northern Europe. pH in the humus layer increased with 0.2 unit from 1961 to 1991.

The results of this study indicate that protection from logging has initiated the reduction of species in the field layer and bottom layer. This study questions if monitoring of forest vegetation should be restricted to protected forests as is the practice in Scandinavia today. We recommend that also areas with some kind of selective cutting will be used for monitoring of forest vegetation.