Older trees with large diameters store enormous amounts of carbon, according to new research published in the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change. This highlights their importance in mitigating the effects of climate change, scientists say.
The researchers studied trees with large diameter (> 53.3 cm) in the lands of the national forests in the states of Oregon and Washington. They found that although they account for only 3% of the total number of trees in the study sites, they are the ones that store 42% of the total above-ground carbon in these forest ecosystems.
This study is one of the first of its kind to highlight the need for conservation of large trees and their important role in carbon sequestration.
Large trees make up a small fraction of the trees in a forest, but they are extremely important to the entire forest community. It will take hundreds of years to replace the many unique functions they perform.
Dr. David Mildrexler, senior study author
To study the relationship between tree diameter and above-ground carbon storage in forests, the researchers used species-specific equations to relate tree diameter and height to above-ground biomass in the trunk and branches. They also looked at what proportion of large trees make up the total forest area and where cutting them down would lead.
By the way, the study also showed that trees with a diameter> 76.2 cm make up only 0.6% of the total number of trunks, but they account for more than 16% of the carbon in the aboveground biomass of the studied forests. It is worth noting that as they grow, giant trees accumulate more and more carbon. Their careful preservation will help in the problem of climate change, scientists are sure.