The redwoods — Earth’s ancient giants — stand at a new crossroads of environmental change where urbanization, habitat fragmentation, pollution, invasive species and climatic changes threaten them in ways they have not yet experienced in their long history on Earth.
More than 144 million years ago, amid the dinosaurs, redwoods’ ancestors flourished across the globe. In response to an ever-changing climate, they retreated from the vast majority of their range. Now, throughout the current redwood range, we are experiencing temperature increases, less coastal fog, reductions in snowpack and earlier snowmelt.
Climate change will interact with many other stressors that the redwoods had not experienced before the Industrial Revolution. When gold was discovered in California in 1849, the hundreds of thousands of people who rushed to the state needed buildings, and redwoods were logged extensively to meet the demand. By the 1960s, only a small fraction of the original 2 million acres of ancient coast redwood forest remained. In addition to this extensive logging, humans introduced other stressors to the redwood forest, including invasive species, fire suppression, air pollution and habitat fragmentation.
Today, redwoods stand at a critical point. The current and projected interactions of these stressors jeopardize more than 90 years of League conservation work. We must act today to protect redwoods from these threats in the future.
California’s enormous giant sequoia is the world’s most massive tree and one of the oldest and tallest. These trees can grow to more than 310 feet tall with a base diameter of up to 30 feet. The main trunk of Sequoia National Park’s General Sherman Tree contains about 52,500 cubic feet, which is roughly equivalent to 21,800 150-pound humans! Giant sequoias can live to be 3,000 years old.
The tallest individual tree in the world is a coast redwood — at 379 feet tall, it stands taller than a 30-story building. California’s coast redwoods can grow more than 320 feet high with trunks more than 24 feet in diameter and can live for more than 2,000 years. Redwood forests store more carbon per hectare than any other forest on Earth.
For more than 90 years, Save the Redwoods League has been dedicated to protecting the ancient redwood forests so all generations can experience the inspiration and majesty of redwoods. In 1850, there were nearly 2 million acres of ancient coast redwood forests in California. Today, less than 5 percent remains and faces threats from unsustainable logging practices, poorly planned development and global climate change. Since its founding in 1918, the League has completed the purchase of more than 190,000 acres of land.
Save the Redwoods League
114 Sansome Street, Suite 1200
San Francisco, CA 94104