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22 July 2024

Concern surrounds the fate of the historical banyan tree in Hawaii amid forest fires

Published
By DPA

In 1873, a banyan tree from the Indian subcontinent was planted in the coastal city of Lahaina, which was a vital center of the former Kingdom of Hawaii. It still stands proudly in the face of the recent forest fires.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the tree, which is about 150 years old, may now be facing its final days, after a series of forest fires swept through Maui, the second largest island in the US state of Hawaii. The fires killed dozens and destroyed much of the island, especially the city of Lahaina.

The banyan tree, also known as the Bengali fig tree, still stands tall and strong, resisting the burning embers, as ash accumulates on its many-knotted branches and trunks.

However, experts are concerned that the high heat from the destructive fires could end this long-lived tree, as it is not a native plant and therefore does not have any natural advantages to protect it from fire.

Kimberly Flook, deputy director of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving the city's history, says that if one or two branches of the main trunk are still alive - if they are not burned too badly - the tree's aerial root system could promote regrowth.

JB Friday, a forest expert at the University of Hawaii, suggests that the banyan tree has a chance of survival, saying: "It may live and sprout again from the roots." However, he explains that this process can take decades to grow into a large tree, and adds "The fire seems to have been pretty severe."

The cause of the fires is attributed to the increasing areas planted with non-native grasses on the islands, in addition to the decline in land management with the decline in the agricultural sector, which has provided more fuel for fires, as well as the occurrence of severe climate change in the islands, resulting from rising global temperatures, which has exacerbated the problem.