AFP, published on Saturday 08 October 2022 at 00:37
After three years of planning, five expeditions and a two-week trek through the jungle, a team of scientists has arrived at the largest tree ever discovered in the Amazon rainforest, a towering specimen the size of a 25-story building.
The giant tree, whose crown rises above the canopy in the Iratapuru River Nature Reserve in northern Brazil, is a dinizia excelsa 88.5 meters tall and 9.9 meters in diameter.
Researchers first spotted it on satellite images in 2019, and a team of researchers, conservationists, and local guides attempted to reach it that same year.
But after a ten-day trek over rough terrain, exhausted, with few supplies and a team member who fell ill, they had to turn around.
Three other expeditions to the isolated Jari Valley region, located on the border between the states of Amapá and Pará, have yielded several other giant trees, including the largest Brazil chestnut ever recorded in the Amazon, at 66 meters. tall.
But the massive dinizia excelsa remained untouched until the 12-25 September expedition, during which researchers traveled 250 km by boat and more than 20 km on foot through mountainous jungle to reach it.
One of the 19 members of the expedition has been bitten by what the team doctor believes to be a poisonous spider.
But it was worth it, says forestry engineer Diego Armando Silva of the Federal University of Amapá.
“It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Simply divine,” Silva told AFP.
The group took samples that will be analyzed to find out, in particular, the age of the tree (at least 400 to 600 years, according to Silva) and the amount of carbon it stores.
The giant trees in this area weigh up to 400,000 tons, of which about half is carbon absorbed from the atmosphere, according to Silva.
Despite their remoteness, these giants are threatened.
Dinizia excelsa wood is prized by loggers and the reserve is invaded by illegal gold seekers, explains Jakeline Pereira, from the NGO Imazon, who participated in the expedition.
In the last three years, the average annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased by 75% compared to the previous decade.