In 2019, Brazilian and British researchers located the largest tree in the Amazon, 88 meters high, within a conservation reserve for sustainable use, on the border between Amapá and Pará. A new scientific expedition, risky between rivers and rapids, intends to start the mapping and study of more “giant trees”.
What is known is that they are examples of Dinizia excelsa ducke, a species better known as Angelim-Vermelho. To get to know the region better, the research project formulated in Laranjal do Jari, in the south of Amapá, received R $ 60,000 from the Natura Fund for Sustainable Development of Communities (Iratapuru Fund).
In addition to deepening the study of the giants, the project should also enhance the sustainable use of natural resources in economic activities developed in the region, improving practices such as extraction, ecological tourism, cooperatives and artisanal production of those who live in the region, especially riverside.
The largest tree was found 220 kilometers from the nearest “civilization”, in a very remote area of the Parú State Forest, in Pará. The specimen is equivalent to a building with more than 20 floors and exceeds all those cataloged in the Amazon, which exceeded 70 meters. There are also records of a total of 15 giant trees in the region.
The expedition last year was coordinated by professor Eric Bastos Gorgens, from the Federal University of the Valleys of Jequitinhonha and Mucuri (UFVJM). This time, the doctor in forest sciences and professor at the Federal Institute of Amapá (Ifap) in Laranjal do Jari, Diego Armando Silva is the one who will lead the research.
The team also includes other Ifap researchers, as well as Federal (Unifap) and State (Ueap) universities, in addition to the Federal Institute of Amazonas (Ifam) and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa).
The intention is, in one year, to study and map 4 giant trees identified within the Iratapuru River Sustainable Development Reserve (RDS), a region known as Médio Jari.
“In March, we should start training the São Francisco do Iratapuru community, so that in the period from June to August, expeditions can take place in search of the 4 giant trees found in the Iratapuru River Reserve”, explained researcher Diego Armando.
Examples of Angelim Vermelho are common with up to 60 meters in height, but at almost 90 it was an extraordinary discovery. From the trip made in 2019, it remained to identify which relationship of these giant and long-lived trees – over 400 years old – with the surrounding environment and how they act to preserve the forest. And yet, why do they reach that size, what interferes in this growth and how it can absorb water and nutrients.
In addition, the researchers also included in the project the offer of courses on sustainable management and conservation of genetic heritage for the approximately 20 families living in the community of São Francisco do Iratapuru, located around the RDS, in the municipality of Laranjal do Jari.
“The approved project represents, in addition to the unfolding of giant trees, an interaction between the scientific and local communities in search of the development of the region”, highlighted the research coordinator.
‘Giant trees’ areas
It all came from a study by the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), which identified trees with heights far above normal in this region of the state.
Before considering the trip along the Jari River, researchers from universities in Brazil, Finland and the United Kingdom had already analyzed data from 594 collections of trees spread across the Brazilian Amazon. The search for land validated what had already been identified by satellites.
The study, carried out by several teaching and research institutions in Brazil and abroad, started in 2016, was financed by the Amazon Fund, and resulted in the Jari-Paru expedition: in search of the giant tree. Using a kind of “laser radar” that does remote sensing, the researchers identified 7 regions with giant trees, all over 80 meters in height. Six of these collections were in the Rio Jari region, between the states of Amapá and Pará, including the giant mor.
To get an idea of the scale of the discovery, the largest trees in the world are the giant redwoods, which can measure from 85 to 110 meters and are native to the northern hemisphere.
Why is the discovery important?
For Professor Eric Gorgens, the discovery of the tallest tree in the Brazilian Amazon is proof of how little is known about the forest and shows the importance of preservation.