Most people are aware of the dangers that deforestation and logging are presenting to the rainforests and groups of the world’s oldest trees. However, new studies are revealing that our most ancient trees are facing other risks that are not as closely linked with the actions of mankind. This alarming study has found that there is a considerable threat being posed by increased global temperatures, drought, insect infestation, and forest fires due to dry conditions. These threats are coming in addition to the traditional concerns raised by environmentalists related to man’s conservation of resources. The new variables are causing the effects of climate change to hit home hard. The trees being affected are an average of 100 to 300 years old.
Not an Isolated Problem
Compared to the rate of destruction that we have seen in the past, the increase is ten fold. The Journal of Science revealed the studies to the public, and the statistics have caused reactions in universities and conservation institutions in large numbers. Additionally, the problem is not limited to one area of the globe. The effects of the shift in the environment are being seen in every type of forest across the entire world. The need for the study first became apparent when researchers began comparing current data on trees with the data collected for the Swedish forestry records in the 1860s. The comparison revealed considerable declines in older trees in a variety of climates including the Brazilian rainforests, the African Savannah, Yosemite National Park, and various parts of Europe.
The Guardians of Habitats
Old trees are not just important for their age, history, and breath-taking stature. There are characteristics of older trees that are vital to the ecosystem in which they exist. Their absence can impact an integrated system so extensively that it will eventually have repercussions for humans trying to thrive in the surrounding areas. Older trees have much more sophisticated systems of branches, thicker bark, more areas of shelter for wildlife, and produce a wider canopy that is vital to the foliage growing at their feet. Losing these unique features in the environment means that wildlife is losing part of the habitat that they depend on for food and shelter.
Everyone Must Breathe
The air quality in the forests and surrounding areas will also feel the impact of the severe drop in numbers. Trees that are 100 to 300 years old absorb significantly more carbon dioxide than their younger counterparts. When this conversion is not occurring, there is less fresh oxygen in the air, resulting in the loss of one more tool that is playing a vital role in sustaining our healthy environment. In addition to changing the composition of the air, older trees make significant contributions to the richness of the soil surrounding their roots. They recycle nutrients in the ground, making it a more fertile home for a larger variety of foliage that is native to the area where they thrive. The health of the soil can have long-term consequences for humans, animals, and plant life.
Planning For the Future
The issue certainly warrants further investigation, and scientists are loudly proclaiming the need to get these studies underway. The hope is that they will yield more information that can be used to develop long-term plans that will reduce this loss of life. Rather than thinking in terms of decades for conservation efforts, scientists are encouraging efforts that will take place across centuries. In the face of drastic change that is happening rapidly across the globe, the ancient trees will need our assistance if they are to continue to survive.
Hank Cromwell writes on a variety of topics including green energy, ecology, environmental studies, the EPA, solar power, windmill power, electricity, storage tanks, off-the-grid living and other related matters. Curious readers looking for more info on storage tanks are encouraged to view the items at Go-To-Tanks.