All forests are beautiful, but there’s truly something special about old-growth forests. These areas of dense and diverse plant and animal life remain, in some places, unchanged from thousands of years ago, and they bring many of nature’s ancient secrets into the modern age.
What exactly distinguishes an old-growth forest? There is some disagreement on the matter, but in general, old-growth forests contain trees over 200 years old, as well as complex ground ecosystems and canopy layers.
Some of these forests contain trees that have lived for thousands of years. That means these trees were alive when Rome was founded, when Jesus was alive, and when Shakespeare wrote his plays—and they’re still around today. It’s humbling to be reminded of how vast and ancient these places are. And the age and value of these forests are important to keep in mind today, as we live in an era that has seen much of their destruction. Old-growth forests have been shown to absorb a lot of carbon, helping to keep the earth’s levels in check. There is almost no old-growth forest left in Europe, and logging, mining, and other human activities have decimated forests elsewhere in the world.
Fortunately, there is a movement to save old-growth forests, and many of these forests have protected areas, but it is important to continue the effort to preserve these ancient natural spaces. It would take hundreds (or even thousands) of years to replace them.