Photo courtesy of National Cheng Kung University Dec. 2, 2023
About 4 percent of the 632 "superlative" trees -- those that are taller than 65 meters -- recorded in Taiwan over the last decade have vanished, a research team devoted to documenting the country's tallest trees said Saturday.
The team, which launched a map of "Taiwanese superlative trees" in 2022, said the trees have grown 30 centimeters taller per year on average during the period, but 21 trees have disappeared in what it described as an "ecological catastrophe."
With only 2.1 percent of climate zones considered conducive for the existence of tall trees, the preservation of them has been made more challenging with climate change and logging, according to the experts.
Taiwan has been an ideal habitat for the growth of such tees, partly thanks to the relatively difficult-to-get-to places on the island's mountains, but the decrease in their number has raised a red flag, they said.
The team, led by National Cheng Kung University geomatics professor Wang Chi-kuei (王驥魁) alongside Taiwan Forestry Research Institute (TFRI) Assistant Researcher Rebecca Hsu (徐嘉君), said the tallest known tree in Taiwan is an 84.1-meter tall Taiwania tree.
Located near the upper course of the Da'an River in north-central Taiwan, the tree is also the tallest across East Asia, according to the TFRI.
The team is hoping that the map (http://www.no1tree.tw), created via high technology such as airborne light detection, could help develop a better knowledge about trees over 65 meters tall in the country.
There are roughly 950 million trees in Taiwan, Wang said, adding that the the team has been keeping track of a total of 941 superlative trees discovered since 2011, many of which are located along the country's Central, Xueshan and Alishan mountain ranges.
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