Krummholz

Understanding Krummholz - PEI'S understudied coastal forests. 

Krummholz is a German word that combines krumm (crooked, bent, twisted) and holz (wood). These wooded areas full of stunted and deformed trees are common in mountainous landscapes along the tree line. Our coastal conditions on the north shore are equally harsh in the winter - the constant pounding of the wind causes the trees to remain short and grow horizontally, creating dense mats of plants that help reduce wind speed and catch salt spray. As you retreat from the shore and move inland, the trees tend to get taller, and after a while, you start entering more of a mixed forest with larger trees. 

 

 

 

The Project 

PEI’s coastal forests are an at-risk, diverse, and complex ecosystem. This study seeks to develop a better understanding of krummholz and the roles they play in our island environment. Krummholz are integral to the protection of our coasts, as well as providing habitat for a wide variety of species.  Instead of seeing these areas as wastelands that serve no purpose, we need to look at their true values. They provide wildlife habitat, store carbon, help slow erosion, and make it possible to grow less-hardy trees that would not survive without this protection. 

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