Trees aren’t just beautiful, they are also essential to human survival. They clean the air, provide fruits, nuts, and shades.
Since there’s no other place you can find a larger gathering of trees than forests, I’d like us to take a look at the oldest forests in the world.
World’s Most Ancient Forests
Before we take a look at these ancient forests, I need to point out that there are some really old trees too.
Take the Methuselah for instance. It’s a 5,000-year-old Bristlecone Pine, and it is the oldest tree in the world!
Researchers have found another Bristlecone Pine they claim may be older than the Methuselah. Although a specific age has not been determined.
GUIDE: Using Tree Rings To Tell Age
Anyway, let’s get into it. Below are the oldest forests in the world.
Tongass National Forest, Alaska
16.8 million acres of rain forest land is nothing short of breathtaking!
This Alaskan rain forest is one of the oldest forests you can find in the world. Researchers have put its age at several thousand years old (though with no specific number).
This rain forest is filled with “seniors” since most of the trees there are well over 800 years old.
Here’s an interesting fact – one-third of all old-growth temperate rain forests on Earth is made up of the Tongass rain forest. This is a testament to how large this forest is.
According to the National Geographic, and I quote – “The Tongass is an exceptionally rich eco-system that holds more organic matter – more biomass – per acre than any other, including tropical jungles”.
What’s an ancient forest without a variety of wildlife? The Tongass boasts of many, which include grizzlies, all 5 species of Pacific Salmon, wolves, and the Sitka deer.
Daintree Forest, Australia
With an estimated age of over 180 million years old, this is truly one of the world’s oldest forests.
It covers about 1,200 square kilometers, and it is Australia’s largest stand of tropical rainforest.
This forest isn’t just old and beautiful, it is also home to thousands of species. These include a large variety of birds, marsupials, and reptiles.
An estimated 30% of the total frog population in Australia calls this place home.
How many other rain forests do you know that can house over 12,000 species of insects? Not many I guess!
Waipoua Forest, New Zealand
In the 19th Century, when the European settlers came, they almost destroyed this wonderful piece of nature’s offering. They recklessly cut down the trees to build boats and houses.
The trees of this forest were hacked down by the thousands, but luckily, all that came to an end. The Waipoua Forest was designated a sanctuary in 1952, since then it has remained free of deforestation.
A particular tree species survived the “genocide” of the European settlers – The Kauri tree.
This coniferous tree species has been in existence in the Waipoua for over a thousand years. The oldest Kauri tree, Tane Mahuta (also known as Lord of the forest), is about 2,300 years old.
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, U.S.A
This is one of the oldest forests in the world, and also one of the most unusual. It’s nothing like the other pine forests you may have grown used to.
You can find this ancient forest adjacent to the Sequoia National Forest, California.
It stands at an elevation of 10,000 feet, and boasts of the oldest and second oldest trees in the world!
Remember the Methuselah and the other Bristlecone Pine I spoke of earlier in this article? Well, this is where they call home.
As I mentioned before, the Methuselah is over 5,000 years old, while the other Bristlecone Pine is believed to be a few decades older.
To keep it protected, the exact location of both trees within the forest remains undisclosed to this day!
Yakushima Forest Japan
The Yakushima island, Japan, is home to this ancient temperate rain forest.
In 1933, the Yakushima received the status of World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is being carefully preserved.
The Flora of this forest is simply breathtaking. They include bamboo grasslands, high moors, and subtropical species.
One of the mind-blowing features of this forest is the ancient Yakusugi tree species (Japanese Cedars). This tree species have survived and thrived in this forest for over 7,000 years!
Tarkine Forest Tasmania, Australia
This temperate rainforest is not only one of the oldest in the world, but it is also one of the largest as well. It is the largest temperate rainforest in Australia and the second largest on the planet!
This forest encompasses mountain ranges, moorlands, rivers, beaches, woodlands & caves.
A testament to the age of this forest is the ancient Huon Pines, they are the second oldest surviving tree species in the world.
The Tarkine forest faces the usual threat from humans who want to hack this ancient forest to the ground, luckily, there are several environmental groups dedicated to making sure that does not happen.
Bialowieza Forest, Belarus & Poland
This is one of the smallest forests on our list, it takes up just 580 square miles.
Old-growth forests are almost extinct and this is one of the very last ones left. No wonder UNESCO has made it a world heritage site, just to preserve what’s left of it.
The funny thing is, as small as this forest is, it still manages to provide homes to so many animal species. These include 250 bird species, 13 amphibian species, 59 mammal species, 7 reptile species, and 12,000 invertebrate species.
The European Bison, which is so close to being extinct, also calls this ancient forest it’s home.
This animal would have easily gone into extinction, had it not been for the intervention of a few wildlife preservation organizations who had them taken to zoos for protection.
Upon becoming a world heritage site, the Bisons have returned home, and they now number over a thousand.
Kakamega Forest Kenya, Africa
Taking up a landmass of just 90 square miles, the Kakamega forest is the smallest forest to grace our list.
Unfortunately, its current size doesn’t do justice to the former glory of this forest.
It was formerly the largest old-growth forest in the entire world. However, human development and war destroyed about 50% of the forest, leaving us with what we have today.
Luckily, this ancient forest still houses fig trees of over 700 years old! It is also inhabited by over 300 species of birds, and many species of monkeys.
Why Forest Preservation Is Important
As you may, or may not know, forests make up a third of the total land on the planet, and they provide homes for some of the world’s most diverse creatures.
Ironically, forests also provide homes to some humans, so it’s funny that the biggest threats to forests today are humans!
Every year, the forest loses millions of acres worth of trees to deforestation carried out by humans, for industrial reasons of course.
Unfortunately, many have failed to see the importance of this priceless ecosystem. Without forests, the human race will simply disappear.
Thankfully, there are forest and wildlife preservation bodies that do what they can to save the forests. They have good reasons for doing so, and I’d like to point out some of the reasons why forest preservation is important.
Forests help us breathe – Trees are known for absorbing the carbon dioxide we breathe out, and releasing oxygen which we breathe in.
Did you know that a grown tree can produce the amount of oxygen that would suffice up to 10 people per day?
It is home to many of Earth’s creatures – Here’s a fact, 80% of biodiversity on land live in forests.
Would you believe me if I told you that an estimated 300 million humans around the world live in and around forests too? You’d be wrong to think it was just the birds and reptiles.
It is estimated that the survival of about 60 million indigenous people around the world is heavily dependent on native woodlands.
They keep the Earth cool – Forests grow into large canopies that reduce the effects of the sun’s rays on Earth. Ultimately, they help cool off buildings and our body temperatures in general.
Remember, trees absorb Carbon Dioxide (which aid global warming), and can keep it stored in their roots and leaves for centuries.
They promote rainfall – Huge forests can create their microclimates and trigger atmospheric conditions that produce rain.
The Amazon rain forest is a good example of forests that do this regularly.
Forests provide food for us – Besides the fruits and the nuts, forests also serve as homes for deer, rabbits, fish, and other game for humans to eat.
They reduce flooding – Trees are vital to low-lying areas. Being that when it rains heavily, the roots of the tree absorb flash flood, and slows down the water flow.
Other reasons why forests should be preserved include –
- Some trees have medicinal values
- Clean soil
- Clean air
I hope this article on the world’s oldest trees has been informative.
Plant a tree today!