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Chile’s “Gran Abuelo” may be the world’s oldest living tree

In an isolated valley in southern Chile, a lone alerce (larch) tree towers above the canopy of an ancient forest.

Green shoots sprout from the crevices of its thick, dark trunks, crowded together like the pipes of a great cathedral organ, and water trickles down its lichen-speckled bark to the forest floor from the bulbous knots in the wood.

"It was like a cascade of green, a great presence before me," recalls climatologist Jonathan Barichivich, 41, of the first time he encountered "Gran Abuelo" (Great Grandfather) as a child.

Barichivich grew up in the Alerce Costero national park, 800 . . .

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