Thursday, December 13, 2012

Old trees disappearing worldwide – More research and improved management needed

Old trees are among the oldest living organisms on our planet. There is something special about these old trees, not just because they harbor and sustain countless birds and other wildlife, but also because they are some sort of historic monuments, in natural sense, that is.

Sadly, these proud big trees are disappearing worldwide. In the recent scientific report that was published in the journal Science the researchers warned about alarming increase in death rates among trees aged 100-300 years. These trees are said to be dying in all corners of the world, in many of the world's forests, woodlands, savannahs, farming areas and even in many cities.

Many of the world's forests are affected with this serious environmental issue, and with many of the old trees disappearing from the face of this planet, there will be a massive damage to many of the forest ecosystems and many species could disappear in years to come, leading to even bigger global biodiversity loss.

The causes for this rapid loss of old trees are yet to be fully researched and understood. An urgent research is therefore necessity if we want to improve the management of these trees and halt future biodiversity loss in forests.

Big old trees are disappearing worldwide

The researchers are also calling for policy changes that would enable better protection of forest areas. The loss of large, old trees in many ecosystems is really a one-way ticket to an environmental disaster of massive proportions.

The main factors behind the ongoing disappearance of old trees are wildfires, drought, high temperatures and logging.

Professor Bill Laurance of James Cook University described the importance of this issue by saying that „we are talking about the loss of the biggest living organisms on the planet, of the largest flowering plants on the planet, of organisms that play a key role in regulating and enriching our world“. When explaining the vital functions that these trees provide Professor Laurance said that „these trees provide nesting or sheltering cavities for up to 30% of all birds and animals in some ecosystems. They store huge amounts of carbon. They recycle soil nutrients, create rich patches for other life to thrive in, and influence the flow of water within landscapes and the local climate as well as being the focal points for vegetation restoration; they help connect the landscape by acting as stepping stones for many animals that disperse seeds and pollen,.“

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