Populations of Large, Old Trees Are Dying Off Worldwide, Report Says

Populations of large, old trees, which provide critical ecosystem services, are declining across the planet and could eventually disappear altogether in some regions, according to a report by three leading ecologists. Writing in the journal Science, the scientists say the loss of large trees is occurring in all kinds of forests and at all altitudes, from Yosemite National Park in the U.S., to African savannahs, to Amazon rainforests and northern boreal forests. The losses are being driven by numerous factors, including land clearing, agricultural expansion, human-designed fire regimes, logging, invasive species, and climate change. “We are talking about the loss of the biggest living organisms on the planet, of the largest flowering plants on the planet, of organisms that play a key role in regulating and enriching our world,” said Bill Laurance, a scientist at James Cook University in Australia, who coauthored the report.