The (very slow) race to move the forest in time to save it

Wright replied that the data did not begin to be meaningful until about 10 years into the study. “That’s when I started to believe it,” she said. Many things can happen now and then, and early growth may not end with much. After all, those dead Douglas fir that bothered me in Oregon were a hit in my first few years of school.

We found some shade under the trees that survived the 2014 fire, and sat down to lunch. Thinking about the future of forests means slipping into a timeline so abstract that it’s hard to imagine, but scientists like Wright have been in it for a long time, imagining an age far beyond their lives.

“I will not see this big forest that we are planting now,” she said. Her son might see it, or her grandson might see it. She acknowledges that interest in any kind of future is a sign of optimism, particularly in the distant future. “But I’m good at it.”

as a member For biologists, it can be difficult to understand how statistically they are likely to be alive. A healthy beech tree, as Wohlleben explains in The hidden life of trees, will produce approximately 1.8 million pecnotes in its lifetime. He writes: “Of these things, one would exactly develop into a full-grown tree, and from the perspective of the forest, this is a high success rate, similar to winning the lottery.”

For Joshua trees, the odds of successful breeding are longer. For a Joshua tree to be born – a tree that survives in conditions much harsher than beech – its mother must flower and plant when it reaches sexual maturity. The seed, which looks like a flat disk of black paste smaller than a dime, should find a home conducive to its germination and flowering. This is hard enough in the dry expanse of the desert, and even harder as the landscape warms. His best case scenario is finding his way to a spot under a nurse bush or black brush, where he can sprout protected from the chomping of roving balls. You’ll especially benefit from finding a spot above a symbiotic soil mushroom that lurks under sandy loam and can help your young Joshua tree grow. If the tree successfully outlives early life dangers, it needs another 30 to 60 years before it is ready to reproduce. It then relies on the yucca moth to pollinate it; Otherwise, it will not work. Only then, after playing this confusing and unlikely challenge, will Joshua Tree be able to set seed, and the entire weak cycle repeats itself.

Scientists have mapped the Joshua tree’s survival in the face of the most extreme climate conditions — that is, if humans continue at our current rate of consumption and emissions — and found that by 2100, any Joshua tree habitat will remain in California’s Joshua Tree National Park, even for trees that are already among the most Trees are drought tolerant.

Lynn Sweet, a plant ecologist who studies Joshua trees at the University of California, Riverside, told me that her team calculated that, under more mitigating scenarios in which carbon emissions were reduced, “we could conserve up to 20 percent or so of habitat in the park and areas.” surroundings”, assuming the moth and mycelium make it in this scenario as well.

When it comes to conservation efforts, humans usually think of the forests most precious to them—the places they grew up visiting, the places they got married, or where they take weekend hiking trips, and national parks known for their distinctive trees. These places – Sequoia National Park, Olympic, Muir Woods, Everglades – loom large in our collective consciousness. “I often joke with reporters, nobody goes out to write an article about climate change in the Black Forest,” Sweet told me, a species that is endangered in the desert.

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