(TibetanReview.net, May28’23) – A 102.3-metre Tibetan cypress in Nyingchi (Tibetan: Nyingtri), Xizang Autonomous Region, has been identified as the tallest tree to be ever discovered in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and has been confirmed as the tallest known tree in Asia, reported China’s official globaltimes.cn May 28. It is also stated to be the second tallest in the world.
Xizang or Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) refers to roughly the western half of Tibet proper.
The report said that in recent years, the height of trees in the PRC has been frequently updated. An 84.1-metre Taiwan Fir, the previous tallest tree in the PRC and East Asia, is still nearly 20 metres shorter than the Tibetan cypress found this time.
Taiwan is a self-governed island claimed by China, which calls it a breakaway province, even though the former has not been a part of the founding of the communist-ruled PRC.
Before the Taiwan fir, the PRC’s tree height record holder was an evergreen fir in TAR, which was found by Chinese scientists to measure 83.4 metres tall last year.
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After days of field surveys, data collection and processing a giant Tibetan cypress found in Tongmai village of Nyingchi, which is located in the National Nature Reserve of Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, was announced to be the tallest tree in the Chinese mainland and Asia by a research team led by scientists from Peking University, the report said.
In addition to the tallest cypress tree in Tibet, the survey also found more than 50 trees above 85 meters tall, including 25 trees surpassing 90 metres tall, which greatly improved the height record of trees in the RPC and even Asia, Guo Qinghua, a professor at the Institute of Remote Sensing of Peking University, has said.
The previous record of the tallest tree in Asia was stated to have been held by a yellow sala pair named “Menara” discovered in Malaysia, at a height of 100.8 metres.
The discovery of the Tibetan cypress has adjusted the list of the world’s tallest trees ranked by tree species, and Tibetan cypress has become the world’s second tallest tree species after the American coast redwood, the report said.
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Tibetan cypress is mainly distributed in the southeast region of TAR, and only has a small population in the National Nature Reserve of Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon. The distribution area of Tibetan cypress is very narrow, with the species now considered relatively rare, the report added.
The Yarlung Tsangpo Canyon, which is 504.6 kilometres long with an elevation drop of more than 7,000 metres, is one of the top 34 globally recognized biodiversity hotspots. 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 unique species, the report noted.
The valley is stated to have a 65% of known higher plant species and 50% of the mammals on the Tibetan Plateau. In total, more than 3,000 higher plants species can be found in the area, the report said.