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Maunula Nature Trail

Old forests in the cycle of life

Old forests may look like they are standing still, but all the time a steady and continuous natural cycle is taking place.

This cycle can be seen in the food chain: A worm eats a leaf, a shrew eats the worm, a tawny owl eats the shrew, micro-organisms and worms decompose the owl, and around it goes.

The food chain is actually more of a food web, as food chains intersect and run many courses.

Much of the natural cycle occurs unseen on the elemental level, such as in the carbon cycle: A living tree stores carbon from the atmosphere in its trunk and roots, as well as in the soil. The tree continues to bind the carbon in the soil even after it has reached its full height.

When the tree eventually decomposes, approximately as much carbon is released as is stored by the growth of a new tree. Old pine forests and the soil on which they grow are a vital carbon sink, helping to prevent climate change.