The 25 ha Traunstein Forest Dynamics Plot is located in the south-eastern part of Germany in close vicinity to the Northern Alps, about 15 km in the north of the city of Traunstein. It is the first managed forest area included in the ForestGEO network. The plot is part of the Traunstein municipial forest estate (~ 600 ha) which appointed the PI Hans Pretzsch as the responsible manager in 1994. Since decades, management in Traunstein actively transforms even aged monospecific stands into uneven aged mixed species stands. This transition in time is nicely covered by a spatial gradient on the plot: While homogenous forests where transformation is just beginning dominate the east part, the western part is stocked with multi-layered mixed stands where successful transformation towards complex stand structure has been started decades ago. Subsequent censuses will document the feedback between management and forest structure during the ongoing transition.
Geologically, the region is a young moraine landscape formed during the last glacial period about 115,000 to 15,000 years before present. The plot area is covered with deep loamy soils and slightly slopes from west to east at an elevation between 620 m to 590 m a.s.l. The mean duration of the vegetation period (defined as the number of days per year with mean temperatures above 10°C) lasts 155 days per year. Mean annual temperature and precipitation amount to 7.6°C and 1240 mm, respectively. Values for the vegetation period average at 14.5°C and 690 mm. The Traunstein municipal forest represents one of the most fertile and productive forest areas in Central Europe with mean annual volume increments of 10-20 m3 ha-1 yr-1 and current annual volume increment of up to 40 m3 ha-1 yr-1. While 26 different tree species have been identified on the plot, the dominating species in terms of basal area is Norway spruce (Picea abies) with more than 50 % basal area share, followed by Sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), European hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), European beech (Fagus sylvatica), and European larch (Larix decidua). However, among the small trees (< 10 cm dbh), Sycamore maple and European beech dominate, while Norway spruce plays just a subordinate role. This indicates a significant ongoing change in the species composition, constituting the Traunstein plot as a highly transient forest system.