Protecting the Amazon’s Giant Trees: Sustainable Future Research at Swansea University


Dr Jacqueline Rosette, a Royal Society Research Fellow at Swansea University’s Geography Department, has collected vital data on the Amazon’s giant trees—which she first discovered in 2018. As a result of Dr Rosette’s research, the Brazilian state government has pledged to enact a Bill to protect the giant trees by giving them ‘National Monument’ status.

Dr Rosette is part of a Brazilian and UK team that first detected six giant trees, which stood at 88.5 metres high, by using airborne laser surveys.

At the end of 2021, Dr Rosette and colleagues embarked on their research expedition to the eastern Amazon region to gather data on giant trees. The team succeeded in reaching their target: a tree that is over 83 metres in height—the third tallest detected since 2018. Known scientifically as Dinizia excelsa, it is estimated to be 500 years old.

A remarkable discovery, the team found that the giant trees accounted for a substantial proportion of the biomass found in their surrounding area. This means that these trees hold an important responsibility for storing the carbon of their habitat, which is estimated to be 60-70% of the local carbon. With the Amazon storing 17% of the world’s carbon, the preservation, continued survival, and recognition of the giant trees’ protected status, is fundamental to our own fight against climate change.

A further research expedition to the region is planned for 2022, which will locate the tallest tree of over 88 metres high.

Dr Rosette, commented:‘It really was amazing to stand in awe beneath the giant that we had detected in our analysis, and exciting to be within primary forest surrounded by the noise of life in the Amazon!

The scientific data we obtained are vital in enhancing our understanding of the giant trees, their habitat, and the dominant role they play in capturing and storing carbon.

A major achievement from our expedition was the commitment from the State government to use our findings to help assign protected status to the trees and their surrounding areas. This is a huge result. It shows how research can have a direct impact on the most important issues the world faces.’

Read more about Dr Rosette and her team’s impact.

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