Pando, an aspen forest in Utah with the same DNA, connected by the roots to the point of being considered the largest living organism in the world, is in danger of disappearing.
Scientists warn that the 80,000-year-old forest in Utah ‘won’t exist in 50 years’ because of relentless human meddling.
Utah made Pando its official state tree in 2014.
With an estimated mass at six million kilograms, researchers at the University of Utah State have warned in a study published in PLOS One that this unique forest, also known as The Trembling Giant, is being slowly devoured by an overpopulation of deer and other herbivores, which proliferate due to the disappearance of their natural predators after human settlement in the area.
Furthermore, the decline has also happened because
This decline has happened because humans have expanded into the forest and cut down areas without giving them time to recover.
In addition, draughts have also plaid a huge role in the decline of the Pando forest.
The incredible ‘forest of one tree’ consists of up 40,000 trees all of which are genetically identical and come from a single underground parent clone.
“While Pando has likely existed for thousands of years – we have no method of firmly fixing its’ age – it is now collapsing on our watch,” said co-author Paul Rogers from Utah State University’s Wildland Resources Department.
“One clear lesson emerges here: we cannot independently manage wildlife and forests,” he said.
Aspen forests, such as the Pando forest and many others, reproduce in two ways.
The first is the family system in which mature trees release seeds that become new trees.
But more commonly, aspen and some other tree species reproduce by sending out their roots, which grow through the ground into completely new trees.
The exact amount of time it took the Pando grove to reach its modern extent is unknown, says Paul Rogers, an ecologist at Utah State University in Logan. “However, it’s very likely that it’s centuries old, and it’s just as likely that it’s millennia old.”