Tall tim­ber found in PNG

Paradise - - Contents -

Asur­vey of Pa­pua New Guinea’s lush pri­mary forests has re­vealed that the coun­try’s moun­tains may have the largest trees recorded glob­ally at such high al­ti­tudes.

The study was led by Dr Michelle Ven­ter, from Canada’s Univer­sity of North­ern Bri­tish Columbia, and in­volved the Univer­sity of Queens­land (UQ) and James Cook Univer­sity.

“Cur­rent thinking is that tall moun­tains make small trees,” Ven­ter says. “How­ever, we recorded more than 15 tree fam­i­lies with in­di­vid­u­als grow­ing to 40-me­tres tall at ex­treme al­ti­tudes, which brings this as­sump­tion into ques­tion.”

The re­searchers found that the for­est biomass in PNG had a peak at al­ti­tudes be­tween 2400 and 3100 me­tres, al­ti­tudes where forests strug­gle to reach more than 15 me­tres in other parts of the world.

Dr John Dwyer, from UQ, says re­searchers be­came ex­cited when they re­alised the unique cli­mate con­di­tions found on PNG’s moun­tain tops were re­mark­ably sim­i­lar to those of tem­per­ate mar­itime ar­eas known to grow the largest trees in the world.

The world’s tallest known tree is a 115.8-me­tre coast red­wood in California, and the sec­ond-tallest is a 99.82-me­tre moun­tain ash in Tas­ma­nia.

Coast red­woods (pic­tured) oc­cur at el­e­va­tions up to about 920 me­tres, while the Aus­tralian moun­tain ash oc­curs in cool moun­tain­ous ar­eas to 1000 me­tres, con­sid­er­ably less than the PNG al­ti­tudes.

“The study may force a re-think of what we know about the ideal en­vi­ron­ments for grow­ing very large trees,” ac­cord­ing to Dwyer. ■

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Papua New Guinea

© PressReader. All rights reserved.