Millions of California trees threatened by drought

(File, AP)
(File, AP)

Washington - As many as 58 million large trees in California are threatened by record drought afflicting the state since 2011, says a study.

Even if the weather phenomenon called El Nino produces more precipitation, California's forests could suffer irreversible change, the report said.

Besides the lack of water, high temperatures and a destructive insect called the bark beetle also raise the risk of forest mortality, said the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"California relies on its forests for providing water and carbon storage, as well as timber products, tourism, and recreation, so they are tremendously important ecologically, economically, and culturally," wrote Greg Asner, an ecology expert with the Carnegie Institution.

He added: "The drought put the forests in tremendous peril, a situation that may cause long-term changes in ecosystems that could impact animal habitats and biodiversity."

In this study California's forests were observed with laser-guided imaging equipment.

The researchers found that some 10.6 million hectares of forest with up to 888 million large trees, including the famed sequoias, have endured major water shortages from 2011 to 2015.

Of these, up to 58 million trees have suffered a water deficit classified as extremely threatening to long-term forest health.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Is social media doing more harm than good?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, our children are exposed and we can't protect them
49% - 4977 votes
Yes, but social media is part of the new reality
45% - 4588 votes
No, it's great for growing a child's world view
5% - 521 votes
Vote
USD/ZAR
14.05
-0.1%
GBP/ZAR
19.84
+0.8%
EUR/ZAR
17.05
-0.3%
AUD/ZAR
11.01
-0.4%
JPY/ZAR
0.13
-0.3%
Gold
1,836.17
+0.3%
Silver
27.31
-0.5%
Palladium
2,958.47
+1.0%
Platinum
1,250.27
-0.5%
Brent Crude
68.28
+0.3%
Top 40
62,389
-0.3%
All Share
68,377
-0.2%
Resource 10
72,112
+0.9%
Industrial 25
85,665
-1.4%
Financial 15
12,740
+0.2%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo