These Fireproof Trees May One Day Save Our Forests from Wildfires

Written by Anna Culaba

The World Wildlife Fund reports that the Earth loses about 46 to 58 thousand square miles of forest to deforestation each year — it’s like losing 36 football fields every minute.

While we can largely blame human activity for deforestation sometimes natural disasters do play a part. Wildfires in the U.S. alone destroy about 7.3 million acres of land each year.

Fortunately, scientists may have found a very intriguing solution to battle wildfires.

According to the BBC, scientists were surprised when they found a group of cypress trees standing tall and green after a wildfire destroyed 20,000 hectares of forest in the Spanish town of Andilla in Valencia in 2012.

Photo: Twitter/OSCAR FREDY POSSO VI

Photo : Twitter/OSCAR FREDY POSSO VI

“On our way to what we knew would be a Dante-esque scene during that tragic summer, we felt deep sadness at the thought of losing a plot of such value to the conservation of biodiversity,” scientist Bernabé Moya told BBC. “When we got there we saw that all the common oaks, holm oaks, pines and junipers had completely burnt. But only 1.27% of the Mediterranean cypresses had ignited.”

It turns out Mediterranean cypresses are fireproof or as fireproof as it can be.

In a study published in the Journal of Environmental Management, scientists found that Mediterranean cypresses can maintain high water content even in situation of extreme heat and drought because of the particular structure of their leaves.

But what’s more important according to Gianni Della Rocca, a research technologist at the Institute for Sustainable Plant Protection, is that these trees may be a “possible alternative new tool to counteract the risk of wildfires.”

Scientists, however, feel that we can avoid all these problems if we just take care of our forests.

“It is urgent that humanity takes these problems seriously,” Moya said. “The fight against fires concerns us all. We owe it to the forests and we owe it to future generations”.

This post originally appeared on RYOT

Photo credit: Thinkstock

41 comments

Jessica K.
Jessica Kabout a year ago

It sounds like a nice idea, but between over-reliance on one species that would be invasive in many locales and the fact that it could lead people to believe they bear no responsibility to prevent forest fires subverts any benefit. Thanks.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran1 years ago

impressive!

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Jennifer H.
Jennifer H1 years ago

I just worry about introducing a new species of anything. I am a little gun-shy on that one.

Dianne is right. We have to learn to take care of/manage what we have.

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Jordan G.
Jordan G1 years ago

We need to start to rebuild at a rate of a hundred football fields per minute.

Of course, if Santa Claus would put a little oomph in his unicorns, we might be able to drop them all in place this Christmas. Lazy bones.

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Georgina Elizab McAlliste
.2 years ago

Very wise comments from Sarita E. and Deborah W.People are careless,light fires and forget about them...a fire not put out correctly ,needs only wind to relight it.It seems nothing is sacred against idiots.

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Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell2 years ago

Thank you

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sandra vito
Sandra Vito2 years ago

Thank you

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Deborah W.
Deborah W2 years ago

According to researcher technology these trees MAY be a POSSIBLE alternative new tool to counteract the risk of wildfires. Solid, NOT.

That Mediterranean cypresses can maintain high water content, even in situations of extreme heat and drought because of the particular structure of their leaves, is great IN THEIR OWN ENVIROMENT. (The group pictured looks to have had the help of back fires as well.)

Scientists also state truth to fact: that we can avoid all these problems if we just take care of our forests. Personally, I believe tree variety is important and ALL have their place in nature's plan. What say you ...

Then there's this ... by the time we figure out how to fight fires we'll have created the next crisis; there's no end to our destructive nature, our lack of concern until a situation can no longer be denied, etc. It's who we are.

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Jennifer Smith
Jennifer Smith2 years ago

As exciting as it is, I think the enviromental factors need to be looked at. Some trees requrie exposure to fire in order to spread seeds, and thin growth.

Before we go crazy planting trees which may not even grow, we need to stop and think about the long term effects of what we're doing.

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