This Map shows where are the tallest trees on Earth
Maps aren't just a navigational tool. They can provide us all kinds of information to take meaningful actions. And sometimes maps can change our perception of the world.
Recently NASA posted a map showing the height of Earth’s forests. It reveals some patterns you might expect, such as taller forests hugging the equator in the Amazon, central Africa, and Indonesia. But tall trees show up outside the tropics, too. For example, giant sequoias in California can grow to nearly 80 meters (260 feet) tall; Bhutan pines in the eastern Himalayas reach similar heights, exceeding the scale of this map. But the giants taller than 30 meters are the minority, covering only 5 percent of the Earth’s land area in 2020.
Previously there already were maps of tree canopy heights, but current technologies and the novel approach have allowed Nico Lang of the EcoVision Lab and colleagues to achieve more detail.
Checkerboard pattern of the forests in near Oregon reflects land management decisions made in the mid-1800s when the Oregon and California Railroad was granted square-mile parcels of land along a rail line between Portland and California.
Taller canopy heights often occur within the borders of protected areas. This map, for example, shows the comparatively taller trees of Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda. Declared a forest reserve in 1903, clearing was restricted but the law was not consistently enforced. In 2005, the forest was declared a national park. Since then, various projects have aimed to better protect the trees and to boost ecotourism and education on biodiversity in the park. Unfortunately only 34 percent of the planet’s tall canopies (above 30 meters) fall within protected areas.
“We hope that this work will advance future research in climate, carbon, and biodiversity modeling,” Lang said. “We also hope that our freely available map can support the work of conservationists.”
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