The Great-Grandfather, a four-meter-thick Patagonian cypress, has been determined by Chilean experts to be the world’s oldest living tree, surpassing the previous record-holder by more than 600 years.
Jonathan Barichivich, a Chilean researcher at the Climate and Environmental Sciences Laboratory in Paris, examined the coniferous tree, also known as Alerce Milenario in Spanish, and discovered that it may be at least 600 years older than the previous competitor at 5,484 years. The announcement was described as a “marvellous scientific discovery” by Maisa Rojas, Chile’s environment minister and a member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, according to The Guardian.
The Patagonian cypress (Fitzroya cupressoides), also called the alerce in Spanish, is a tree that is indigenous to Chile and Argentina and is a member of the same family as enormous redwoods.
In 2020, Barichivich took a sample of the Great-Grandfather but was unable to drill through to the center of it. The age of the tree was then calculated using computer models that accounted for random fluctuation and environmental conditions.
Barichivich has not yet published an estimation of the age of the tree in a scientific publication since he has not yet been able to thoroughly count the year rings of the tree, but as he has stated, he hopes to make up for it in the upcoming months.
Alerce Milenario would be 600 years older than the 4,853-year-old smooth pine known as Methuselah in California, which is presently thought to be the oldest tree in the world, if the findings are validated.
The fissures of Alerce Costero National Park, where Great-Grandfather resides, are a haven for mosses, lichens, and other species.
Barichivich claims that the tree is in danger because parkgoers may stroll around its trunk and because of droughts brought on by climate change.
As cellulose manufacturing is a significant business for Chile, the country’s forestry institute estimates that logging plantations in the south of the country span more than 2.3 million hectares.
Over 780,000 hectares of natural forest were destroyed in Chile between 1973 and 2011, despite the fact that non-native plantations of water-hungry pine and eucalyptus made up 93% of this total area.
Great-Grandfather and its equivalents in the woods must endure human activities, at least, we can only hope.