Recreating a piece of history

By: Carina Bruun, gardener and guide at Naturkraft 

The carbon forest is one of the eight natural habitats that form part of Naturkraft theme park. This type of nature goes all the way back to a time we only read about today. But it certainly does not make it a less exciting nature experience in western Jutland. 

Several of the trees that we have planted in our carbon forest can trace their ancestory back to the Jurassic period. When large herbivorous dinosaurs such as Triceratops, among others, fed on ferns and conifers and possibly also the leaves of other trees that existed during this period.  

As a guest at Naturkraft, you encounter a lively presentation of surviving fossil plants and the story of the climate changes that took place over many million years.  

Liquid lava 

The natural cycle of carbon passes through animals, plants, soil, the ocean and us humans. In trees, CO2 is absorbed through the atmosphere via photosynthesis and released again through the respiration of the plants.  

When changes occur in the balance, it can also affect the climate. In the carbon forest, there are paths of crushed asphalt, which are laid out drip by drip in "tongues", so that it looks like an erupting volcano with liquid lava running down its sides. So even if you cannot travel to warmer countries during the autumn holidays, you can experience a completely different world at Naturkraft.  

Plants of the past 

The the forest, you will find several sizes of the temple tree - also known as Ginkgo biloba - which is a kind of living fossil from our past.  

They often appeared at Buddhist temples and monasteries, where they have been used diligently during long-lasting temple ceremonies. The leaves can help decrease urine production. However, I would not recommend that this is something you test at home... 

Can you see the difference? 

Spruce is probably one of the most beautiful trees I know, and as a plant enthusiast you can choose from a few. In many ways, the fresh and dainty green needles are attached in a slightly atypical way compared to other conifers, which I think is fantastic.  

During the winter, it looks more like a tree related to the deciduous trees, since it loses its needles during this time. Time shapes its beautiful dark brown trunk with grooved indentations. The tree actually looks more like a bald cypress, which it is also closely related to. You can also see bald cypresses in the carbon forest. During your next visit, you can try to see the difference. 

The recovered tree 

The spruce is actually a tree that was considered extinct many million years ago. Until 1941, when a professor from Nankin wandered around China south of the Yangtze River in an area with several wild and untouched valleys. Here, he encountered a tree that he did not recognise. But it turned out that the local population in the area called the tree shuihsa.  

Translated into Danish, this means water larch/pine. The local population in the area said that the tree was old, very old. So actually it was only in the rest of the world that this beautiful tree was believed to be extinct.  

Delicate balmy scent 

There are many exciting plants to choose from in the carbon forest - including Antarctic Beech, which is a medium-sized 6-8 metre tree. In the early spring months, it spreads the most delicate balmy scent. However, it is not the leaves that emit this delicate scent, but rather the lovely trunk of the tree, which has beautiful white stripes on the otherwise dark brown trunk. 

Pollen from beech has previously been discovered on Antarctica. This proves that plants have been able to spread themselves by using Antarctica as a kind of stepping stone between South America, New Zealand and Australia. 

The power of nature shows us the past 

What is a fossil and how is it formed? And how have they even been able to encapsulate plant parts? Yes, fossils are petrification formed on the basis of minerals that store many secrets. You could say that fossils help reflect life's development for billions of years from the very beginning here on earth.  

Usually some hard tissue is needed for a plant part to be preserved. This could, for example, be parts of a tree. In order for the part to be preserved as best as possible, it is of crucial importance that the part is buried as soon as possible after the break with the rest of the plant part. Otherwise, bacteria will attack the plant part, and preservation will not take place - or will only take place in a deteriorated version.  

The best options for a quick cover on land are by erosion as well as by water areas such as the ocean and lakes.

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