Ancient Trees: Why We Need to Preserve Them For Future Generations

There are numerous threats to our plant life and trees in today’s world, the greatest of which being industry and climate change. In regions that have particularly old, beautiful and/or significant trees, government regulation and action may be necessary to preserve their beauty and cultural significance for generations to come.

Consider, for example, the giant redwoods and sequoias of the western United States, the ancient trees of the Pacific Northwest forests, or the beautiful mangrove trees located all over the world. Tourists come from all over the world to see these trees and have an awe-inspiring, natural experience.

It is our responsibility to preserve these trees for our children, their children and generations beyond them to enjoy and appreciate.

Preservation Efforts Underway

There are a variety of conservation efforts underway across the world to preserve these trees by either curbing carbon emissions to stall climate change, or to implement regulations that prevent these trees from being cut down.

Here in Canada, for example, the British Columbia Ministry of Forests aims to strengthen a legacy tree policy meant to preserve some of the massive cedar and fir trees in the province, specifically on Vancouver Island. Environmentalists have lodged heavy criticism at the government for allowing B.C. Timber Sales to auction off cutting areas on Vancouver Island that include some of these historic, ancient trees.

Organizations like the Ancient Forest Alliance and the Wilderness Committee want to preserve these trees, some of which are up to 1,000 years old, because they are integral for British Columbia’s ecosystems and are culturally significant for the First Nations.

Why These Efforts Are Important

If governments and activists do not take the appropriate efforts to preserve these ancient trees, they will begin to die off forever.

The impact of climate change on some of these ancient trees has most recently been seen in Africa, where nine of the continent’s 13 largest and oldest baobab trees collapsed and died within just 12 years.

The baobab tree is often referred to as Africa’s “tree of life,” because of their importance to both animals and humans. Their leaves are often boiled and eaten much like spinach, and the bark is used for cloth, rope, baskets and medications. The trees also act as sources of water, fruit and shelter, and are frequently used in ceremonies.

The oldest tree in the study was Panke, a giant baobab in Zimbabwe with a sacred past. Researchers believe it to have been 2,450 to 2,500 years old, but the tree died in 2011. Scientists say these deaths happening so close together is “unprecedented,” and that climate change is the most likely cause.

It is our responsibility as humans to take whatever steps necessary to preserve these trees for future generations, so they can reap the benefits from them that their ancestors have for thousands of years.

For more information about tree preservation efforts happening around the world, contact one of the Soil Advocates specialists. Together we can continue to enjoy and protect these treasures.

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By |2018-07-09T09:15:31-04:00July 9th, 2018|Categories: Blog, Environment|Tags: , , , , , , |

About the Author:

Dr. Leanne J Philip, BSc. (Hon.); MSc.; PhD. is the Managing Director & Chief Scientist of Soil Advocates Inc. She studied at the University of Guelph as an undergraduate (Plant Biology, Environmental Management and Urban Horticulture) and as a graduate student (Plant & Soil Interactions). She has a keen interest in soil sciences, which lead her to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver for doctoral studies in soil carbon sequestration and movement within British Columbia’s clear-cut soils. Further work in soil sciences in Europe and Canada reinforced Dr. Philip’s belief that soil processes and mechanisms belowground drive aboveground aesthetics and plant interactions. While active in both research, mentorship and teaching, most recently Dr. Philip has been working in applied soil sciences in industry and community outreach. Dr. Philip is a native of southern Ontario and is a strong advocate for scientific literacy within her community and responsible environmental stewardship.


  1. JoAnne Fleming July 11, 2018 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr. Philip,
    I’m interested to learn more about your work to preserve the ancient trees. There is a desperate need to create opportunities to provide scientific literacy to political and corporate decision makers. When the public is better educated then pressure can be put on these decision makers to make the right decisions for the long term rather than only immediate political gains, or greater profits. Research by Simmard and Wohlleben have captured some public interest. Your research seems to be unlocking more mysteries of the interactions of plants and trees and the soil in which they grow. Bridging a disconnect from Nature by arousing curiosity of these fascinating interactions helps people become more aware of the complexity and importance of responsible environmental stewardship.
    I look forward to learning mroe from you.
    JoAnne Fleming BA, LAT

  2. Dave Wager July 12, 2018 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Leanne,
    Interesting article. Thanks for sharing. In the dry regions of the Western U.S. (and parts of Canada) the biggest threat to remnant old growth is conifer encroachment from a century of fire exclusion. These small understory trees compete for water and nutrients and lead to catastrophic crown fire that the old growth trees can’t handle. Contrary to the view of many conservation groups, we need to be get the chainsaws out and cut the unnaturally dense understory trees that are threatening western old growth ponderosa pine and western larch stands.

  3. Emmanuel Anaba July 23, 2018 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    i believe as though protecting ancient trees is a worthy cause. i wish to congratulate your team for your hard work. in Africa we seeing the effects of climate change, and this initiative will help preserve our heritage culture, the environment and climate for future generations to enjoy

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