As we mentioned last week, due to its unique qualities the faya is a spectacular tree for restoring laurel forests. Today we’re going to delve a little deeper into other interesting aspects of this species.
Trees that put fires out
Another unique property of the faya compared to other trees in the Canaries, is its ability to maintain a high humidity content during the summer months, particularly during heatwaves.
Plants have numerous strategies when it comes to coping with heat and dryness. Some lose a lot of their humidity and are capable of surviving with very little water in their tissues, humidity they then recover when the rainy season starts. This is the case with species such as heather or Erica arborea. However, these species are very dangerous when forest fires break out because as they store very little humidity, they burn really well and they can produce flames that can be quite a few metres high. In these cases, the energy freed by the fire is so great that any water poured over the flames simply evaporates a few metres before it reaches them.
One more thing about the faya, before we end. One of the lesser known and somewhat darker facets of the vigorous nature of this species, is the fact that while it is a perfect tree for recovering the native laurel forests of the Canary Islands, elsewhere it is causing serious problems.
Portuguese colonisers took the faya to the island of Hawaii back in 1900, as they used it to make a kind of wine and for timber. One of the characteristics of this tree, as we mentioned earlier, is that it can fix nitrogen in the soil. Well, because of this, it was able to quickly colonise the young soil produced by of Hawaii’s volcanoes, and that stopped the island’s own native vegetation from developing properly. That is why, even today, it is considered an invasive species in these islands in the Pacific Ocean, and the forestry services there invest important resources trying to control it and to avoid conservation problems in their natural ecosystems.
The biodiversity problems that invasive species produce are of great importance and indeed are critical for conservation. It is another facet of the negative footprint that we humans cause by failing to look after our relationship with nature.
That’s why we love Mirlo so much, working day by day to become bigger and to extend our footprint. To make it possible for more and more people to live and to leave a positive footprint on the planet.
Change your world. Be mirlo.
Faya in a fire in 2007: Mataparda
Faya in Hawaii: Forestry Images