Migrations are tough for all living beings, because it is usually triggered when the environment for some reason becomes unfit for living.
When it comes to forests, they are still considered unmovable ecosystems – places that are home to plants and animals.
However, even though it seemed so that forests can actually migrate if needed, they only do it in different ways and mainly rely on luck to get where they need to go.
Of course, this does not mean that the plants move physically from one place to another. Although the banana-tree can actually physically move, but it’s just a result of how it is grown.
Most forests and plants migrate using nature as a whole, and they apply tactics to ensure that future generations will have better living conditions. Mainly, tactics boil down to one thing: distribution of seeds. In order to move, the plants should produce seeds, and then the seed should transfer somewhere more appropriate.
Well, here is the main catch!
Have you ever wondered why many fruits are tastier when they are taken directly from the tree?
It is not because we get older and we come to love them more. Fruits evolved to bring forth fruits that other creatures would want to eat. And thus their seeds can be transferred away from their original source.
Other methods include the distribution of seeds in the waters of the rivers that carry them much further. Or seeds carried by the wind fall onto the fur of animals and thus are being distributed.
All these tactics help the seeds to spread to different locations in the hope that some of the seed will fall and sprout in areas that are ideal as their new home.
According to an article from 1939, written by biologists John Potzger and Ray Friesner, monitoring the vegetation can tell us a lot about climate change:
“Vegetation is always an expression of climate and climate change. Large masses of vegetation develop, progress, regress or in rare cases disappear, leaving only charred remains in deep layers where today there is a thick layer of snow and ice.”
This type of long-term migration represent a process that requires many years to be completed. In most of history, this occurred in a period of thousands of years.
But today forests do not have much time available, because the temperature is growing faster than ever before.
But scientists have developed a pretty intense way to get them to migrate faster, using flamethrowers.
It seems odd, but flamethrowers actually help conservationists to nudge forests to “move” faster – by, literally, setting them under fire. This process researchers have named “assisted migration”. And it’s applied to the pine forests where fire is actually an important part of the life cycle of trees.
Such an example is recorded in 2014 when there were 24 acres of forest burned in Maryland. Afterwards, new trees were planted in an area not far away from their natural environment.
Basically these long-leafed pines struggle to grow around other plants, where fires are caused naturally by lightning, helping new ones to take root. And aided migration helps the trees to move into areas that are out of their “comfortable” place at locations which scientists believe that the future will have an ideal climate for them, based on made computer models and environmental studies.
Although with this type of migration, humans play a huge role in the environment. In essence, this is the same process and distribution of seeds. The only difference is a certain advantage because of reduced competition over resources.
Forests migrate at any moment, only thing is, we do not notice them at all.