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Alaska Trees Victory

Some of these giants are even older than the United States itself and are now protected from loggers.

On Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska, majestic mega-trees that are key to combatting climate change have been protected from chainsaws after a federal judge rejected a sweeping logging plan that would have spanned a project area of 1.8 million acres in the Tongass National Forest.

Containing nearly one-third of the world’s old-growth temperate rainforest, the Tongass is home to large stands of trees that have lived on this planet for centuries. Some of these giants are even older than the United States itself.

The old-growth forest of the Tongass provides key habitat for the area’s diverse array of wildlife, including blacktail deer; wolves; brown bears; and goshawks, a stocky raptor with a barrel chest. The Tongass also provides local residents, subsistence hunters, tourists, and many others the opportunity to recreate among irreplaceable old-growth forests, reports EarthJustice.

But the Tongass trees - and trees in general - play an even bigger role in our world by keeping the climate in check. As many of us learned in school, trees “breathe in” carbon dioxide and “breathe out” oxygen. So it’s no surprise that these majestic organisms are heralded for their massive potential to combat the climate crisis.

Last summer, researchers came to a mind-blowing conclusion that planting a trillion trees across the world could remove two-thirds of all human-caused carbon emissions. Large, older trees in particular are great at sequestering carbon. According to leading conservation scientist Dominick DellaSala, the Tongass alone stores billions of tons of carbon, keeping the heat-trapping element out of the atmosphere.

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