According to an article published in the National Geographic website, the oldest living tree in the world has been discovered in Sweden. This tree, which is approximately 13 feet tall, has been alive for 9,550 years and has been growing on the side of a mountain at an altitude of 2,985 feet since the end of the last Ice Age. When I read this I had to stop and think about just how long it’s been there. The Great Pyramid of Giza is 4,575 years old. The poem Beowulf, the oldest surviving English poem, was written 1,216 years ago. The megalithic pyramids of Malta, the oldest human constructs on Earth were built 7,000 years ago. This tree, that’s been quietly spreading roots on a mountain in Sweden, is older than all of these things.
It’s literally a living testament to history and resiliency. It’s incredible when one considers the amount of time this tree has existed. It’s quietly been there while empires rose and fell, while humans advanced slowly after the last Ice Age and began building things like pyramids. It existed before the proto language that became English was spoken. Before, during and after the Roman Empire. It’s something that shouldn’t be taken for granted, because even though it’s not much to look at, this tree is an important part of the story of our planet.
The rise in temperature due to global warming is now threatening it, causing trees to grow at higher and higher altitudes, endangering the immense root system that it needs to survive. In addition, the rise in temperatures makes it possible for logging companies to move further up the mountain, and gives access to the old trees that live there. Without intervention of some kind, this tree and others like it will be killed off and an amazing part of the history of Earth will be lost with it.
Wild Forests & Fauna’s Big Tree Project is actively identifying solutions to the pressures facing big trees in various regions. In specific forest communities of Uganda, Peru, and the US, the following three methods are being employed to protect their big trees: Tree Monitoring (through survey mapping and drone aerial videography), Reforestation (restoring populations of big tree species), and Outreach (Social Media engages and educates on Big Tree threats and successes)