Tallest tree in Amazon, 100 feet taller than Nelson’s Column.
An expedition has uncovered the tallest known tree in the Amazon rainforest – taller than Nelson’s Column and nearly as tall as The Statue of Liberty.
The new discovery scales 290.3 feet and was recorded by a team of Brazilian and British researchers on an 11-day expedition in the Amazon.
The tree stands almost 100 feet taller than the previous record holder and is part of a group of trees that may be more than 400 years old.
The trees are growing in a remote region of Northern Brazil, far from human activity, near the Jari river – a northern tributary of the Amazon.
Trees of this size can store as much as 40 tonnes of carbon each, making them a precious resource in the battle against human emissions.
‘We found 15 trees over 70 metres (230ft) and a few that were over 80 metres (262ft) – the tallest one was previously 60 metres (197ft) so that’s a huge leap,’ said University of Cambridge plant scientist Toby Jackson, who was part of the expedition.
‘It’s a really exciting result. I think it’s a pretty significant discovery for conservation science.’
The Amazon rainforest spans an area of 5.5 million square kilometres, but because this particular area is quite well protected, there may be even taller trees that researchers don’t yet know about.
A group of big trees had already been identified after a section of forest was scanned from a plane using LIDAR – a method of remote sensing using lasers that is also used in driverless cars.
Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research used this technology to scan random patches of the rainforest.
The expedition leader, Professor Eric Gorgens at the Federal University of the Jequitinhonha and Mucuri Valleys in Brazil, wanted to go to the Amazon to officially record it so that people would believe it, according to Mr Jackson.
The area was so concealed that the team travelled by boat and had to navigate the Itacará waterfall and thick forest.
‘It was an 11-day expedition and it took us five days to get up the river and then we had to go on foot, it was quite hard to access it,’ Mr Jackson said.
Once there, specialist climbers navigated to the top of every tree and dangled a rope to the bottom to precisely measure each one.
The record-breaking tree is part of group of trees of the same species, Dinizia excelsais, which is native to Brazil in non-flooded parts of the Amazon and is prized for its hardwood.