An international group of scientists arrived at the site where the tallest tree in the Amazon is found, a specimen with a height comparable to a 25-story building. The feat was achieved after three years of planning, four unsuccessful expeditions and an arduous two-week trek through the thick Brazilian jungle, AFP reported this Saturday.
According to the expedition members, it is a vermelho angelim, scientifically known as Dinizia excelsa, which measures 88.5 meters in height and 9.9 meters in circumference, which is why it is considered the largest ever identified in the Amazon. The specimen is located in the Iratapuru River Nature Reserve, on the border between the Brazilian states of Amapá and Pará.
Researchers first identified the massive tree in 2019, in satellite images that were part of a 3D mapping project led by Professor Robson Borges de Lima of Amapá State University. "Our job was basically to map and try to make an inventory of the entire region where these big trees grow," said Borges de Lima.
The first expedition took place in 2019 and was made up of academics, environmentalists and local guides. However, it was canceled ten days after it was launched, as its members experienced various obstacles along the way. In three subsequent expeditions to the Jari Valley area, located within the nature reserve, other large trees were observed, such as a 66-meter chestnut tree and a 79-meter vermelho angelim.
In this last mission, which lasted 14 days, the researchers traveled around 250 kilometers by boat through the wild rivers of the region, as well as a 20-kilometer hike through mountainous jungle terrain, with the aim of reaching the long-awaited tree.
"We finally managed to reach the largest tree," said Eric Bastos Gorgens, a researcher at the Federal University of the Jequitinhonha and Mucuri Valleys, reiterating that on the first expedition they had lacked three kilometers to reach their goal.
The science team collected leaf and soil samples to determine the age of the tree. The academician Diego Armando Silva, from the Federal Institute of Amapá, estimated that the age of the angelim vermelho is between 400 and 600 years old. In addition, he explained that these large trees can weigh up to 400 thousand tons, of which half is approximately carbon absorbed from the atmosphere.
On the other hand, an activist from the environmental group Imazon, Jakeline Pereira, stressed that these trees are under threat from loggers because their wood is highly valued by loggers. She also warned that the Iratapuru reserve is being invaded by people who extract gold illegally. "It is very important at a time when the Amazon is facing such terrifying levels of deforestation," says Pereira, since in the last three years the loss of forest mass has increased by 75% compared to the previous decade. (Text and photo: RT)