Scientists have shown to be true what JRR Tolkien only imagined in the Lord of the Rings: giant, slow-reproducing trees play an outsized role in the growth and health of old forests. In the 1930s, the writer gave his towering trees the name Ents . Today, a paper in the journal Science says these “long-lived pioneers” contribute more than previously believed to carbon sequestration and biomass increase. The authors said their study highlights the importance of forest protection and biodiversity as a strategy to ease global heating. They say it should also encourage global climate modellers to shift away from representing all the trees in a forest as essentially the same. “This analysis shows that that is not good enough for tropical forests and provides a way forward,” said Caroline Farrior, an assistant professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin. “We show that the variation in tropical forest species’ growth, survival and reproduction is important for predicting forest carbon storage.” Head in the clouds: the woman scaling fresh climate change heights Read more Long-lived pioneers – a term that has been around for decades – include species such as mahogany, Brazil nut trees and Ceiba […]

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