Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Yellow cedar trees are dying at an alarming rate throughout Alaska and British Columbia. One might ask what’s the big deal or who cares? Well yellow cedar trees affect 60 to 70 percent of the entire tree population throughout 600,000 acres. Alaska and British Columbia are rich when it comes to hardwood resources and many of their timber is used commercially to build homes and boats. If the whole yellow cedar population died off then we humans would lose copious amounts of valuable resources and thousands of animal and insect species would lose their habitat and homes. The reason that yellow cedar trees are dying isn’t because of some new invasive insect species like many of you may think; it’s actually from something that most people probably would just overlook.

The article from Science Daily talks about how the yellow cedar trees are dying at an alarming rate due to root freezing during the late winter and early spring months. These months can reach record low temperatures and often don’t even have snow on the ground. Freezing temperatures with no snow is the key here as the yellow cedar tree roots are more susceptible to the freezing cold temperatures without a soft layer of snow on top to insulate them. Yellow cedar roots don’t grow deep into the soil but remain rather close to the surface, which is why this problem occurs. The lives of these trees depends on the future climatic and snow pattern changes of the Alaskan and British Columbian environments.

Clearly, the yellow cedar tree population of Alaska and British Columbia is declining at an alarming rate. Now that scientists have figured out the reason that so many trees are dying they can start working on new ways to save the population. The yellow cedar trees are an important part of the ecosystem as well as an important resource used by humans. Scientists are now faced with a struggle because the trees are slow growing, so planting new trees won’t have much of an effect on the current population. Now all we can do is hope that someone will figure out a way to save this very important part of our ecosystem.

Reference Link:

Posted by Nicco Ciccolini (1)


  1. I think that the loss of trees in all ecosystems across the world is a topic of far-underrated importance. Most people pay no attention to trees, and call those that do "tree huggers". I am by no means a tree hugger, but I took an intro ecology course last semester that really opened my eyes to the extent to which the ecosystems of our world our collapsing. Its not made up, like so many people claim, it is a real problem whether we choose to open our eyes to it or not. As you mentioned, the lives of trees aren't only importunes because of all of the wide variety of organisms that inhabit them, but also because of our human dependence on them. Without a healthy stock of trees available for us to obtain timber, where would we get the materials to build our houses? To burn in our fires? For the paper that we use probably billions of sheets of at this university alone?

    Posted by Laura Moro

  2. Hear, hear! The above comment is on the money and echos my sentiments well. Not only is the loss of trees important because of how valuable of a natural resource they are but also (like the post said) important because of the habitat they provide for so many animals. As biodiversity collapses all over the world issues like this should be of utmost importance.

    Posted by William Mohn

  3. I wonder why these trees have roots close to the surface. Is it because there is little rainfall in these areas? Anyway, I agree that wood a resource is often taken for granted in the day and age we live in, what with steel and plastics. It goes unnoticed exactly how reliant we still are on this resource for our home, buildings, furniture etc.

    Posted by Michael Thomas

  4. I just did some further research and found out that the reason that the tree roots are so close to the surface is because the soils in that area are shallow, wet and poorly drained. But yes our declining resources is a major worldwide problem and we really need to focus on better ways to conserve them.

    Posted by Nicco Ciccolini