Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lone pine may be seed of forest's rebirth - MORIOKA, Iwate Prefecture, Japan

Lone pine may be seed of forest's rebirth - Environment -

MORIOKA, Iwate Prefecture, Japan -- The terrifying force of the March 11 tsunami left only one tree standing from a forest of 70,000 in Rikuzen-Takata, Iwate Prefecture. Today, scientists are using that same tree in their efforts to bring back one of the nation's most beautiful sights.

The Takata Matsubara forest was designated a scenic beauty spot, and before the disaster was one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iwate Prefecture. About 70,000 red and black pines grew on a 2-kilometer-long stretch of beach.

Only one tree, estimated to be from 270 to 280 years old, survived the tsunami. It has been a great emotional support to residents, who have dubbed it "kiseki no ippon matsu" (the miraculous lone pine tree).

However, members of the Takata Matsubara Protection Society are concerned the remaining tree might not survive due to excess salinity in the groundwater, as the tsunami eroded much of the beach, leaving the tree about 10 meters from the sea.

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