Chinese mainland’s tallest tree found on Xizang border
Published: May 09, 2022 07:39 PM Updated: May 09, 2022 07:36 PM
Chinese mainland's tallest tree photo: Courtesy of Li Cheng

Chinese mainland's tallest tree photo: Courtesy of Li Cheng

A 76.8-meter Bhutan Pine in the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon in Southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region, has been identified as the tallest tree to ever be discovered in the Chinese mainland. Experts said the finding proves the uniqueness of the ecosystem in the region with environmental integrality and authenticity.

After 10 days of field surveys, data collection, and processing, the giant Bhutan Pine tree found in Gelin village of Medog, Xizang was announced to have a height of 76.8 meters, beating the current record for the tallest tree in the Chinese mainland, according to a statement sent from the Xizijiang Conservation Center and Shan Shui Conservation Center to the Global Times on Monday.

The research team used various methods to measure the tree, including drones and backpack lidar technology to obtain 3D point cloud models of 11 giant trees around the area, and after the height of these trees was accurately measured, Li Cheng from the Xizijiang Conservation Center told the Global Times.

Lidar is an authoritative and widely-used tree measurement method in the world, the Global Times learned.

The team finally picked eight trees out of the 11 with a height taller than 70 meters. It means the area with the largest distribution of giant trees has accurately been studied and measured in the Chinese mainland, which fully reflects the authenticity of the forest ecosystem in the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, read the statement.

The measuring work was jointly completed by scientists from Peking University, the Xizijiang Conservation Center, and Shan Shui Conservation Center, along with the local Forestry and Grassland Administration.

According to Li, the warm, wet, and windless climate found in the area provides for an ideal environment for giant trees to grow. Other regions around the world in which giant trees grow, such as California, Tasmania, and Borneo also have similar conditions.

The only risk is earthquakes in the region, Li said.

"When we used drones to view the region, we saw many giant trees felled by earthquakes, so we predict there might be trees even taller than the one we have found," Li said.

The tree was then named "Xinbuda," which means the "divine tree" in the local Monba dialect.

Huang Jiabin, Party secretary of Gelin village, told the Global Times that the tree was noticed and has been worshiped by villagers before.

Previously, the tallest tree ever recorded in the Chinese mainland was a 72-meter Taiwania flousiana in the Gaoligong Mountains of Southwest China's Yunnan Province. The tallest tree found in China so far is a 79.1-meter Taiwania cryptomerioides on the island of Taiwan.

Scientific research and tourism might be the next step afterwards, Liu Zhen, an official from the Forestry and Grassland Administration of Medog, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Li suggested that the establishment of a national park in the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon should be accelerated. "The establishment of a national park is also part of the oath of sovereignty, which will have a positive influence on enhancing territorial awareness," Li Cheng said.

Yarlung Zangbo valley, 504.6 kilometers long with an elevation drop of more than 7,000 meters, is one of the top 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world. The valley has been dubbed a "Natural Vegetation Museum" because it is home to almost all terrestrial vegetation types from the tropical to arctic zones, including some rare and even unique species.

It has a 65 percent distribution of known higher plant species and 50 percent of the mammals on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. In total, more than 3,000 higher plants species can be found there.

The altitude of the Namcha Barwa Mountain stands at 7,782 meters in the natural reserve, while Pasighat, the lowest point in Medog at around 155 meters, the Global Times learned.