Did you know there exist trees in our Amazon older than Machu Picchu?
They’re living monuments, reaching well over a thousand years of age. The oldest found protecting the ARBIO forest in the Las Piedras River basin of Madre de Dios, Perú, is around 1230 years old! It’s from the Dipteryx sp. species, also known as the Shihuahuaco.
The Amazon rainforest is one of the most biologically diverse places in the world, and yet only around 1% of its plants have been studied in detail, leaving us with a great void of information. This is especially notable in the trees: we know plenty about the characteristics of their wood, but we know nothing about them as a living species. We know even less about the hardwood trees, the ones who grow slowly, whose entire life cycle is unknown.
This lack of knowledge has led us to believe that their use for industrial wood is sustainable, and now their extinction is being brought about by logging and overexploitation. This despite it being clear this wood isn’t a renewable natural resource, since no amount of human reforestation could replace these millenary specimens nature has created.
Recently, as part of the celebrations for the Bicentennial of Perú, SERFOR and MINAM have been promoting the acknowledgement of heritage trees by publishing the process of identification and submission of the specimen trees. A heritage tree is defined as one considered exceptional due to its longevity, its great size, its beauty, the originality of its shapes, its link to a specific landscape, or its cultural, historical, scientific, or educative importance.
This acknowledgement is important since it makes it much easier to show these beings’ value to society. To date, 103 trees have been recognized in the national territory, Arequipa being the department with the biggest number of them (33).
“It’s time to take action towards a change with empathy and responsibility for our forests in order to stop their destruction. A century-old tree standing is worth so much more than one cut down,” mentions Tatiana Espinosa, CEO of ARBIO Perú.
From home or from wherever we are, we can be part of the protection of species as important as the shihuahuaco: one of the oldest and tallest trees in the amazon rainforest, currently threatened by the overexploitation of its wood for parquet floors, of all things. In ARBIO Perú there’s an ongoing investigation and monitoring of these great Amazon trees, and you can adopt a millenary one digitally to offer it as a gift or homage for someone in a special date.
Coexisting with the forest is possible.