MONUMENTAL TREES: RECOGNIZING THE SURVIVORS
Monumental trees: recognizing survivors © Dominique Bruneau S. for LOFscapes based on: Álvaro G Gutiérrez, “Árboles monumentales: un patrimonio natural no reconocido en Chile,” (Monumental Trees: an unrecognized natural heritage in Chile), Bosque (Valdivia) vol.37 no.3 (Valdivia 2016) <https://scielo.conicyt.cl/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0717-92002016000300001 • Árboles Monumentales, “Los más gordos, más altos y más antiguas árboles en Chile” (2018) (Monumental Trees, “The fattest, tallest, oldest trees in Chile)<https://www.monumentaltrees.com/es/records/chl/ • David Trujillo Patiño, Infografía “Gigantes Milenarios” Seen in <http://www.ekon7.studio/gigantes-milenarios/ • Infographic “See how much has happened since the Old Tjikko tree started growing” <http://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/2016/04/old-tjikko-oldest-tree-in-the-world/ •
Despite the historical and constant deterioration of native forests in Chile, we can still find relicts of native groups, in which some trees stand out for their exceptional size. These individuals, in addition to their monumental presence and thanks to their extraordinary skills of adaptation, embody a millennial biological legacy that deserves protection.
Despite the historical and constant deterioration of native forests in Chile (1), we can still find relicts of native groups. Some individuals within these groups stand out for their monumental presence and embody a thousand-year-old biological legacy of extraordinary adaptation that deserves to be protected. Alvaro Gutiérrez, forestry engineer and PhD in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resources of the University of Chile, argues for the importance of protection by the State at the three levels of biodiversity organization: genes (or individuals), species, and ecosystems. These three categories can be understood as three scales of approach to the tree: from the particulars of its specific condition associated with responses to the medium transferred from generation to generation; from its type, associated with cultural and ecological values; and from its role in an ecological system. Chilean legislation takes a different stance and recognizes as Natural Monuments areas, specific objects or flora species (such as Araucaria Araucana and Fitzroya cupressoide among others (2)) and fauna, recognizing value from a more superficial analysis, mainly through categories associated with the world of the visible and not with ecological and/or the performative values of the systems. Possibly, it is because of this stance that at this moment “these (monumental) trees are not included in legal instruments that could ensure their preservation” even when they meet the legislative definition (3).
(1) “The degradation of forests by indiscriminate felling, the replacement of old forests by young forests, the substitution of forests for agricultural crops, the contamination and degradation of soils, the invasion of exotic species are current problems, and they have yet to be stopped. This is compounded by the deterioration of forests due to extreme droughts that have caused extensive fires and desiccation of trees.” Álvaro G Gutiérrez, “No nos olvidemos de los gigantes: árboles monumentales y patrimonio natural de Chile” El Mostrador (29.06.2018) < (Let’s not forget the giants: monumental trees and natural heritage of Chile) http://www.elmostrador.cl/noticias/opinion/2018/06/29/no-nos-olvidemos-de-los-gigantes-arboles-monumentales-y-patrimonio-natural-de-chile/
(2) See Decree 141, 490 and 13 Ministry of Agriculture, Chile
(3) Álvaro G Gutiérrez, “Árboles monumentales: un patrimonio natural no reconocido en Chile,” (Monumental Trees: an unrecognized natural heritage in Chile),Bosque (Valdivia) vol.37 no.3 (Valdivia 2016) <https://scielo.conicyt.cl/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0717-92002016000300001
The representation of these individuals – not only through graphic means, but also with scientific data – is an initial step in the effort for their preservation. Consequently, this week’s infographic shows the comparison of the registry of “outstanding” trees of the country, using the database of the Monumental Trees organization (4). This comparison considers heights, trunk diameter measured at a height of 1.3 m (diameter at breast height [dap]) and age of different species. At the same time, historical events must be noted. Historical monuments recognized by the Council of Monuments of Chile now include the giant Sequoia, which is known worldwide as General Sherman, and though not the tallest tree in the world, it is the living being with the greatest biomass of the entire planet (5).