Trees In Ecuador Can Walk Up To 20m Per Year

Tree is able to move itself as much as 2 to 3 centimeters a day

Remarkable form of life
Deep in the heart of the Unesco Sumaco Bioshpere Reserve grows a remarkable form of life: the Ecuadorian walking palm tree. This fascinating species of tree is able to move itself as much as 2 to 3 centimeters a day in order to relocate to a place of sufficient water and sunlight, sometimes embarking on journeys that can take years to complete.

“As the soil erodes, the tree grows new, long roots that find new and more solid ground, sometimes up to 20m,” Peter Vrsansky, a palaeobiologist from the Earth Science Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences Bratislava, tells the BBC. “Then, slowly, as the roots settle in the new soil and the tree bends patiently toward the new roots, the old roots slowly lift into the air. The whole process for the tree to relocate to a new place with better sunlight and more solid ground can take a couple of years.”

Like most of the remaining wooded havens of Earth, these trees face the ever growing threat of deforestation. This mystical forest is available for purchase through the agricultural reform, which unfortunately supports locals to cut down trees to gain living rights to a piece of land. “What is happening is that people come, cut down a bunch of trees and gain ownership of their piece of land. Then, after five years, as stipulated by this new law, they are able to sell the land. And they do,” Vrsansky said.

On the bright side, the same reform makes it considerably easier for conservationists to preserve the land. With plots for sale for less than $500 a hectare, many are eager to own their own private portion of the rain forest to keep alive and flourishing. “This [cutting] is a shame, as Ecuador is one of the world countries with the highest partition of protected areas," says Vransky, "But the trees can’t walk fast enough to escape the chainsaw and the machetes backed by current legislation."


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