A new research study has revealed a big surprise: older trees grow faster than their younger counterparts. A worldwide team of both plant and ecological biologists conducted an enormous examination of approximately 405 prehistoric trees located all over the Earth. They wanted to find out how very old trees were contributing to the carbon cycle. This is where trees take in carbon from the atmosphere and then releases oxygen back into it. What they found out went against every aging rule that has come from the animal and plant world.
The study found out that the older trees are the most powerful features in the carbon apparatus that is the forest. Not only do older trees grow larger more quickly than do younger saplings, but they also suck in amounts of carbon at an extraordinary rate. The nearly 405 temperate and tropical tree species showed that for the majority of species, the physique growth rate increased nonstop with the tree’s size. So old, large trees do not simply act as carbon tanks but actually take in large carbon amounts when they are in comparison to trees of smaller sizes. A single enormous tree can increase the amount of carbon into the forest within one year as what is taken in by a middle size tree for its entire growth span up until that time.
This basically means that one old, big tree is able to remove the same amount of carbon out of the atmosphere in just one year that a middle sized tree has taken out in its entire life thus far. However, if that mid-sized tree is able to live to be an old tree, it too should start taking in the carbon as well and sending out oxygen.
Numerous questions still remain. As trees begin to age, the leaves on them, which are the parts which take in the carbon, are not as productive as they were when they were younger. Also the tree is usually in an area that has similar trees around it in the forest. This is known as a stand of trees and this group also becomes less prolific overall as well. So out of this, why do lone, older trees become so strong and powerful? Scientists believe that the swift growth of the mature tree is because it has many more leaves than younger trees. This means that even though each leaf might have become less productive, there are many more leaves in general which aid the intake of carbon. In the meantime, while the entire tree stand ages, the group becomes less dense as certain trees inside it end up dying or are removed out of it as time passes. This means the remaining older trees are able to receive more access to sunlight and various other nutrients needed while their tree neighborhood grows smaller.
The sad thing about all this is that the logging industry in North America goes after old, large trees first. This means that there are many carbon giants that have been lost forever. In the future, it is hoped that loggers and foresters will begin to look at younger trees to cut down and that they will consider conserving the bigger, older ones because they are the ones that are helping to clean the environment much more efficiently. With this new research study, it has shown that the older trees get, the more quickly they grow than their younger counterparts.
By Kimberly Ruble