Old-Growth Forests: What They Are & Why They Matter

Old-growth forests are pieces of land where mycelium has been able to grow safely without human disruption. They have been growing for thousands of years, hosting precious fungi that could save the planet and the people on it.


The lack of clear cutting, turning soil, and other human interventions that disrupt the natural growth of trees and mycelium, to say nothing of the intricate carbon cycle that both rely on for health, is what makes old-growth forests different and more vital. 


One particular fungus that Stamets found after searching for decades is the agarikon, which was nicknamed the “elixir of life” by Dioscorides centuries ago. Found on Cortes Island, off the coast of B.C, Stamets wants to preserve and conduct research so more power fungal genomes can continue growing. He believes we should follow our ancestors’ paths by referring to mushrooms for healing, especially in the face of a pandemic. 


Conservation & Restoration

However, to preserve these precious fungi, forest restoration and protection are essential. The agarikon mushroom’s discovery proves that Earth’s forests hold the key to human health and planet restoration. Therefore they need to be maintained and studied- not torn down. 


As Stamets mentions, “Saving old-growth forests can be seen as a matter of international defense against pandemics.”


For now, without actually picking or disturbing agarikon mushroom development, Stamets is collecting strains from the valuable fungi from Cortes island with the hope of finding the super strain. With an unquestionable powerful strain, he may have more chance convincing the medical industry to include fungi in health practices and modern medicine. Furthermore, he could convince leaders across the world that old-growth forests and other valuable pieces of land must be protected for the sake of our world’s future. 


Check out this National Geographic mini-doc on old-growth forests restoration:


With hope, we can watch Stamets’ journey of exploring, researching, and saving old-growth forests, which could be the key to overcoming the pandemic and ending Global Warming.

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