Tallest tree on Chinese mainland found in Tibet

The 76.8-meter Bhutan pine, found in Jeling village of Metog, displaced a Taiwan cedar in Southwest China as the mainland's tallest known tree.

Liu Ming and Palden Nyima

Liu Ming and Palden Nyima

China Daily


Bhutan pines stand out in the forest. [Photo/Shang Shui Conservation Center]

May 10, 2022

BEIJING – A tree measuring 76.8 meters has been discovered in Metog county of the Tibet autonomous region, becoming the tallest tree found on the Chinese mainland, according to the county’s forestry and grassland bureau.

The 76.8-meter Bhutan pine, found in Jeling village of Metog, displaced a Taiwania flousiana (Taiwan cedar) measuring 72 meters tall in Southwest China’s Yunnan province as the mainland’s tallest known tree.

The tree was measured by a joint surveying team set up in April, which was commissioned by Metog’s forestry and grassland bureau to conduct surveys on Bhutan pines in the county.

A large-scale surveying and mapping project using a drone-mounted lidar system discovered 11 trees that could potentially measure over 70 meters. The joint team then entered the forests with backpack lidar scanners and did a fine surveying of the 11 trees in the field.

Lidar is an internationally recognized and advanced technology in measuring tree height. Especially in measurement of super tall giant trees, it is safer and more accurate than using height finders or climbing to the top.

A Bhutan pine [Photo/Shang Shui Conservation Center]

The joint surveying team used drone-mounted and backpack lidar scanners to obtain the 3D point cloud models of the 11 trees potentially taller than 70 meters, and did fine surveying of their actual height, 3D structure and growing environment.

After 10 days of fieldwork, data collection and processing, the 76.8-meter pine was found. The team obtained the precise 3D point cloud data of the tree and created a full-size composite photo of the tree using images taken by drones.

Using drones to drop measure ropes and tape measure, the team verified the height and diameter at breast height of the tree and recorded the detailed data.

A Bhutan pine [Photo/Shang Shui Conservation Center]

Seven other trees taller than 70 meters were found during the survey in Jeling village, making it the place with the most tall trees on the mainland. This also demonstrates the forest ecosystem authenticity of the Yarlung Zangbo River Grand Canyon areas.

Kelsang Bakdro, head of the Metog Forestry and Grassland Bureau, said they will work with research teams to explore the formation conditions and growth mechanism of the giant trees, which will provide scientific basis for long-term protection of the tall trees and the forest ecosystem of the Yarlung Zangbo River Grand Canyon.

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