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Nature on the edge

Nature on the edge

Rock climbing’s increasing popularity puts pressures on cliff landscapes

Four years ago, in a nature preserve in Ardeche in southern France, a group of rock climbers stumbled on an exciting new cliff to scale. There were just two problems: Climbing was prohibited outside of authorized routes, and this new route was blocked by an ancient Phoenician juniper. But the climbers couldn’t resist, so they cut down the tree and cleared the route. Later, a local researcher examined the fallen trunk and was startled to count at least 1,260 rings: The juniper had been growing there since the eighth-century, until it had the bad luck to encounter such avid climbers. More…

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