Expedition finds tallest tree in Amazon

“Giant trees like the ones we found are simply awe-inspiring, they remind us how amazing the Amazon rainforest is, and how important it is to preserve it.”

Trees help to mitigate climate change by taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it. The bigger the tree, the more carbon it stores. New research has discovered the tallest known tree in the Amazon, towering above the previous record holder at a height of 88.5 metres. This giant could store as much carbon as an entire hectare of rainforest elsewhere in the Amazon.

A group of giant trees was discovered by Professor Eric Gorgens, a researcher at the Federal University of the Jequitinhonha and Mucuri Valleys (UFVJM), Brazil using LIDAR – a method of remote sensing using a laser scanner on an aircraft. They are growing in a remote region of northern Brazil, far from human activity, and may be over 400 years old. Intriguingly, they are all the same species, called Dinizia excelsa, known in Portuguese as Angelim vermelho.

Toby Jackson, a plant scientist in the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute, joined Gorgens on an expedition to visit the giants. The team validated the tallest tree’s height, and collected samples from the understory to try to understand what makes this site so special.

Jackson wrote an account of his expedition for The Conversation


Gorgens, E.B. et al: ‘The giant trees of the Amazon basin. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment‘, Aug 2019. DOI: 10.1002/fee.2085

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