Forests In Danger
By Richard Romano
Published: November 28, 2012
In effect, the trees have adopted an aggressive evolutionary strategy, creating robust water-moving machinery that allows them to grow quickly and out-compete other trees during times of adequate rainfall, but putting them at risk of dying when water is scarce.Some of us beyond a certain age question the virtue of “robust water-moving machinery” but that’s neither here nor there. But over there, that means that trees and forests in regions that currently get ample rainfall, are up the...well, lack of creek in the event of a drought. There is the potential that some tree species can adapt, but the question of whether or not that is genetically possible remains an open one.
In a commentary accompanying the paper, Bettina M.J. Engelbrecht of the University of Bayreuth in Germany, who was not involved in the research, writes that the accumulating scientific evidence sounds “a warning bell that we can expect to see forest diebacks become more widespread, more frequent and more severe — and that no forests are immune.”Ultimately, climate change may have a potentially greater negative impact on the world’s forests and the resultant biodiversity than any continued use of paper. If we really do want to “save trees,” we should start thinking more seriously about these larger problems.