The last giant Araucaria trees in southern Brazil
Keywords:giant tree, large old tree, monumental trees, cavities trees, araucaria forest
Araucaria angustifolia (Bertol.) Kuntze is a native tree species of major importance in southern Brazil. It is a regional symbol due to its iconic shape and stature in the landscape; its wood was once economically important and its seeds are an important source of food for the fauna and are presently used in regional cuisine. Despite its importance and apparent abundance, the species is facing extinction mainly as a result of unregulated exploitation and deforestation. This study catalogued the remaining individuals in order to add to the body of knowledge available on A. angustifolia, a species that has become rare across its historic range. The circumference at breast height (1.30 m), the total height, and the tree volume were measured (3,529 araucarias). We catalogued trees with a large diameter measuring them in loco over three years involving a journey of more than 6,800 km. The volumes of these old trees are very large, ranging from 38.2 m3 to 106.6 m3. The largest A. angustifolia individual is located in the state of Santa Catarina and measures 3.25 m in diameter. The giant araucarias with > 2.00 m in diameter are rare and only 13 individuals could be found in southern Brazil; a priority action at the governmental level is to recognize and preserve these monumental trees and together with a need for a public policy of drawing up specific inventories of large trees.