The secret power of old growth

The secret power of old growth
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More than ever, as the Forest Service seeks to undo logging restrictions, we need to embrace the crucial way old-growth forests keep the planet healthy Carbon king: Thick, furrowed bark makes this 500-year-old Douglas fir more fire-resistant than younger trees. It also stores more carbon than smaller relatives. Photo by Jurgen Hess By Marina Richie. October 22, 2020. Everyone loves old-growth forests. Hiking in them. Instagramming them. Sharing them with younger generations. As Wild Heritage chief scientist Dr. Dominick DellaSala puts it: “Large trees are irreplaceable bio-cultural legacies.” But big trees and ancient forests offer far more than emotional calm and aesthetic beauty. As the planet faces innumerable connected climate crises—from melting ice caps to species extinction—scientists are continuing to discover myriad ways old-growth trees benefit the global ecology. Yet people also love logging them. In August, the U.S. Forest Service announced a proposal to eliminate logging protections for big trees across more than 9 million acres in six national forests in eastern Oregon. Led by DellaSala, more than 100 scientists from around the Columbia River Basin and the world responded by signing a letter condemning the proposal. MORE: Forest Service wants to limit protections on large trees “The […]

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