Living in the mountain regions of Taiwan for tens of thousands of years, cypresses have been giants and elders in the forest. As we see the huge cypresses, we may wonder how long a cypress can live and how tall it can grow. Why do the roots of the cypresses often be arch-shaped? What is the importance of cypress forests to mountains in Taiwan? We can find all these answers from the documentary “The World Heritage—Cypress Forests in Taiwan.”
Earth has experienced several ice ages over millions of years. During the ice age, the global temperature fell sharply causing the sea level descended. Therefore, the Taiwan Strait disappeared and formed a land bridge allowing many species to migrate to Taiwan; one of the species was the cypress.
Over tens of thousands and even millions of years, cypress has grown to cypress forests in Taiwan. With commonly more-than-tens-of-meters trunk girth, towering height and light fragrance, cypress is considered as a good tree. Alishan Forest Railway and Danda Forest Area had witnessed the rise and decline of the forestry industry from the Japanese colonial period to the first years of the Republic of China. In 1991, the government adopted a policy to forbid cutting down natural forests, which has allowed the remaining cypresses to recuperated and multiply.
The threats from human have decreased in recent years, but the large and tall cypress can not avoid being hit by lightning. A thousand-year-old cypress may break into two parts after being struck by lightning. Fortunately, the fallen trees are breeding grounds for cypress cones, which allow the new cypresses to take roots in the land and to continue the propagation.
The history of the human development in Taiwan has only been hundreds of years. So, many things about the Taiwan cypresses which have lived for tens of thousands of years are still unknown to us. We may start from the documentary to know more about them!