In Central America , a rich blend of lush, tropical trees are home to one of the world’s most biodiverse communities. They provide a leafy haven for some of the planet’s most incredible creatures, like jaguars and three-toed sloths . And it turns out these trees play another vital, hidden role in preserving Earth’s environment. All trees play a part in combating global warming, breathing in carbon dioxide and storing it in the ground. But when it comes to how effectively they carry out this environmental role, not all trees are created equal . In a new study of Panama’s tropical forests, researchers modeled forest demographics using a dataset spanning 40 years and nearly 300 tree species. They reveal that long-living, slow-growing, and massive trees make up most of the forest’s biomass. These so-called “long-lived pioneers” play a disproportionately large part in stashing carbon. Protecting these trees is vital to the planet’s future, the researchers say. Current climate-change forecasts tend to treat all trees equally, but this study suggests some should be taken into greater account than others, fundamentally altering the forecast models. "This analysis shows that that is not good enough for tropical forests and provides a way […]


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