“The Mighty Elder: Earth’s Oldest Tree, Great-Great-Grandfather, Stands at 5,484 Years”

Scientists in Chile have discovered a Patagonian cypress tree that is four meters thick and believed to be the oldest living tree in the world. This tree is considered the “Great-Grandfather” as it beats the current record holder by over 600 years.

A Chilean scientist named Jónathan Barichivich conducted a study on the coniferous tree, also known as araucaria millenari in Spanish. He discovered that the tree’s age could be up to 5,484 years old, which is at least 600 years older than previously believed. Barichivich works at the Climate and Environmental Science Laboratory in Paris.

The Guardian reported that Maisa Rojas, Chile’s Environment Minister and a member of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, referred to the recent scientific findings as remarkable. She exclaimed that these discoveries are a significant step towards understanding the impact of climate change.

The Fitzroya cypress, also known as the Patagonian cypress, is a tree native to Chile and Argentina and belongs to the same family as giant redwoods. In 2020, Barichivich attempted to obtain a sample of the Great-Grandfather tree but was unable to access its core with the drill he used. He then turned to computer models to determine the age of the tree, taking into account environmental factors and random variations.

Since Barićhivić has not yet been able to accurately determine the tree’s age, he has not published an estimate in a scientific journal. However, he has expressed his hope to make up for this in the upcoming months.

If the findings are proven to be true, Alert Milepost would be 600 years older than Methuselah, the smooth pine tree in California that is currently recognized as the world’s oldest tree and is 4,853 years old.

Methuselah, a former contender for the title of the world’s oldest tree, is a Great Basin bristlecone pine tree that has been growing in the White Mountains of Inyo County, California for 4,853 years. This incredible tree, known as the great-grandfather, lives in a cool and humid environment in the heart of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, offering shelter to various plants such as mosses and lichens. Unfortunately, according to Barichivich, Methuselah is now at risk due to visitors walking around its trunk and droughts caused by global warming.

The mighty Alerce Milepario stands tall in all its glory, as seen in the image credit to Faoch. According to Chile’s Forestry Institute, logging plantations in the southern part of the country cover over 2.3 million hectares, with cellulose production being a major industry for Chile.

The majority of this area consists of water-dependent poplar trees and eucalyptus plantations, but unfortunately, over 780,000 hectares of native forest have been lost in Chile between 1973 and 2011. Let us hope that Great-Grandfather and other similar wilderness areas will survive human activity.

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