Unusual. Scientists reach the tallest tree in the Amazon

The giant tree, a dinizia excelsa, is 88.5 meters tall and 9.9 meters in diameter, in northern Brazil. It is the largest tree ever discovered in the Amazon rainforest. And a team of scientists managed to reach it in mid-September.

The crown of this forest giant rises above the canopy in the Iratapuru River Nature Reserve. And it gave the researchers a tough time: three years of planning, five expeditions, and finally a two-week trek into the Amazon rainforest.

Researchers first spotted it on satellite imagery 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.

250 km by boat, 20 km on foot through the jungle

Three other expeditions to the remote Jari Valley region, located on the border between the states of Amapá and Pará, have yielded several other giant trees, including the largest Brazil nut tree ever recorded in the Amazon, at 66 meters . tall. But the massive dinizia excelsa remained inaccessible until the September 12-25 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 was 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

Diego Armando Silva of the Federal University of Amapá

Trees also at risk

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 the researcher) 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. 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. And a sad new record was set again in September 2022.

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