For years, many observers of our global forests have been witnessing significant tree mortality, and Earth’s largest living organisms, like giant redwoods, sequoias, and baobabs, are not immune to this phenomenon. If temperatures rise by four degrees Celsius by the end of this century, we may witness the death of these ancient trees whose lifespans far exceed our own. Giant redwoods can live beyond 2,000 years in age, giant sequoias and baobabs reach up to 3,000 years, and large canopy trees found throughout Amazonia range from 400 to 1,400 years old. What possible futures await these ancient ones? What contributions do big trees make that we are blind to? And what exactly is the driving force behind the disappearance of old trees?
This week, Ayana speaks to Dr. William Laurance on the driving forces behind the disappearance of ancient trees and the critical ecological roles that they play in distinguishing forest types.
Dr. William Laurance is a Research Professor and Australian Laureate at James Cook University. An environmental scientist, he has written eight books and over 600 scientific and popular articles. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and former President of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation. His professional honors include the Heineken Environment Prize, BBVA Frontiers in Conservation Biology Award, Society for Conservation Biology’s Distinguished Service Award, and Royal Zoological Society of London’s Outstanding Conservation Achievement Prize. He is director of JCU’s Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, and founded and directs ALERT—the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers—a science-advocacy group that reaches 1-2 million readers weekly. He is a four-time winner of Australia’s Best Science Writing Award.
Join Ayana and Dr. Laurance in conversation about the future of old growth forests, the many impacts of climate destabilization and drought, the dangers of positive feedback, and how infrastructure development is both driving and worsening climate chaos.
Grant Earl LaValley
From LaValley Below, by Grant Earl LaValley
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