Although mankind now dominates much of the world and regularly reshapes its environment to suit its needs, trees have been around for much longer than any other type of life and hold the crown for standing the test of time. While they might not have status, wealth, or power, what they do have is lasting life.
These forests have trees that have seen the rise and fall of the pyramids in Egypt and the erecting of the monoliths of Stonehenge.
Here are five forests that have lived for thousands of years that we can visit today:
Waipoua Forest, New Zealand
Image Credit - Matt Lemmon/Flickr
Just as all forests remained untouched and unbroken by the hands of men for ages before our arrival, the Waipoua Forest in New Zealand remained untouched until the settlers of the 19th century arrived on the islands. The main tree found in the North Island wilds is the kauri tree, and it would be harvested almost to extinction in order to produce ships and spars. Fortunately, by 1952 the Waipoua forest and its neighboring forests would gain sanctuary status, prohibiting anyone from harming it further.
The kauri tree is notorious for its long life span. In the picture above, we can see the oldest tree in the forest, which has been dubbed “Tane Mahuta” or “Lord of the Forest.” Tane Mahuta is taller than 150 feet and is guessed to be around 2,300 years old.
Tongass National Forest, Alaska
Image Credit - Zarxos
Holding the title for the largest national forest in America, Tongass National Forest spans an impressive 16.8 million acres of temperate rain forest--an area that is close to all of Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts combined.
Many of its trees are over 800 years old, but its oldest trees are believed to be thousands of years old. Today, Tongass makes up about a third of all old-growth temperate rainforests that exist on Earth today! Not to mention, it serves as home to a myriad of fish and wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, moose and five different species of salmon.
Daintree Rainforest, Australia
Daintree is located in Australia and holds the title of largest single block of tropical rainforest on the continent, having an area of almost 1,200-square-kilometers. The best part? It’s believed to be close to 180 million years old. And with its incredible age comes an incredibly diverse range of life that inhabits it. It is home to thousands of different species, from birds to bugs to marsupials.
It’s also part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest of California
Image Credit - Rick Goldwaser/Flickr
What the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest lacks in traditional forest aesthetic, it more than makes up for with its mysteriously old trees. At 10,000 feet of elevation and resting next to the Sequoia National Forest in California, this forest is home to some of the oldest trees on the planet today; including 4,841-year-old Methuselah, the oldest tree believed to be in existence today and deity to those who recognize it as such.
Only a few people know how to find Methuselah as a means to protect it from vandalism and harm.
Kakamega Forest - Kenya, Africa
Image Credit - Matthias Bohnen
Although this magical forest is on the small side at just under 90-square-miles in area, the Kakamega Forest in Kenya is the last living remnant of one of the largest old-growth forests on Earth today. Unfortunately, over half of this forest has diminished due to human developments, war, and over-consumption of its resources.
However, it still serves as home to over 300 species of birds, a variety of monkeys, and miraculous 700-year-old fig trees.