Why is the vegetation so perfectly preserved in the Chernobyl disaster zone?

The surge of interest in the Chernobyl accident after the release of the series "Chernobyl" gave rise to a desire of people to learn more about how terrible radiation really is and how it all works. One of the most common questions: why did people, animals and birds run away from the infected zone or die, but the trees survived? And they not only survived, but now the whole city of Pripyat and its surroundings are flooded - what, radiation does not take them?

In a simplified form, the danger of radioactive radiation is that the scattering high-energy particles knock out stable elements, destroy chemical bonds, and with them the structure of molecules. Free radicals are formed, new chemically active substances that aggressively affect the environment. A living cell literally falls apart from the inside, and the body dies from acute radiation sickness.

The body could replace dead cells with new ones, but the problem is that radiation also spoils complex DNA molecules. And with each replication session, instead of "correct" cells, "wrong", cancerous ones are obtained. Evolution has turned the bodies of animals into complex mechanisms, with a symbolic resource of replacement - if a tumor hits an important organ and it dies, the whole creature will die. Trees originated at a time when there was a much higher radiation background on Earth, and therefore they have a built-in defense mechanism.

The tree has no obvious vulnerable parts; it can regrow branches, roots, leaves in search of water, light and nutrients. Plant cells can transform into those varieties that are needed here and now. And if a dead area, a tumor, forms, then the plant will simply rebuild its structure, bypass this place. That is why plants adapt so flexibly to new conditions and germinate everywhere - on mountain slopes, in cracks in asphalt, in debris, or on soil once "fertilized" with radioactive soot.

Today, some scientists are positioning the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant not as a disaster site, but as a unique nature reserve, one of the largest in Europe. Its ecosystem was formed after the events of 1986 - some plant species became extinct, but the rest feel almost perfect. And the rest of life is returning to this reserve at an increasingly active pace: animals, insects, birds and reptiles. Only man has no place, which is for the best.