Trees do not slow in their growth rate as they get older and larger — instead, their growth keeps accelerating, according to a study published today in the journal Nature.
Older trees have been found to grow just as fast as young trees do, contrary to earlier research that suggested trees lost their vigor with maturity.
The findings showed that most species continued to show accelerated mass growth rates with some of the larger trees adding the carbon mass equivalent of a smaller tree. This means that older trees are better at absorbing CO2 and help balance the amount of CO2 generated by humans.
Adrian Das, a USGS co-author, says:
…large old trees play a disproportionately important role within a forest’s carbon dynamics. It is as if the star players on your favorite sports team were a bunch of 90-year-olds.
The study will help clarify contradictions that have plagued plans for forest management, and help maximize timber yields while at the same time helping to protect older trees and increase carbon absorption.
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