Deer are eating the youngest ‘trees’
Diseases and climate change
The next 14,000 years
Yet Pando is resilient and has already survived rapid environmental changes, especially when European settlers began inhabiting the area in the 19th century or after the rise of 20th-century recreational activities. It has dealt with disease, wildfire, and grazing before and remains the world’s largest scientifically documented organism.
Last summer, when I was visiting my family in Utah, I took the chance to visit Pando. I spent two amazing days walking under towering mature stems swaying and “quaking” in the gentle breeze, between the thick new growth in the “bamboo garden,” and even into charming meadows that puncture portions of the otherwise-enclosed center. I marveled at the wildflowers and other plants thriving under the dappled shade canopy, and I was able to take delight in spotting pollinating insects, birds, fox, beaver and deer, all using some part of the ecosystem created by Pando.
It’s these moments that remind us that we have plants, animals and ecosystems worth protecting. In Pando, we get the rare chance to protect all three.
Richard Elton Walton is a postdoctoral research associate in biology at Newcastle University in England. Walton is affiliated with Friends of Pando as a volunteer.
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