by Betsy Herbert, Ph.D.
published in the Mountain Echo, newsletter of the Sempervirens Fund, Fall 2014
Redwoods are extraordinary. The more we learn about them, the more extraordinary they prove to be. We’ve known for a long time that California’s coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are the world’s tallest trees and among the longest-living. Scientists are now confirming that redwoods play an important role in the local water cycle and in achieving a healthy, stable climate.
By meticulously measuring redwoods, scientists are determining how fast they’re growing, storing carbon and capturing fog, and how they are responding to climate change. For example, a team of scientists is working on the “Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative” (RCCI), with support from Sempervirens Fund, to quantify how accelerating climate change is affecting California’s redwoods. Read More
October is a great time to hike in the redwoods. Even during Indian summer heat waves, the air is cool beneath the big trees. Leaf color in the forest understory is starting to change. Sword ferns, redwood sorrel and hazelnuts are still green, but big-leaf maples and sycamores are turning yellow and poison oak is turning bright red. Read More
When the subject is coast redwoods, people seem to come out of the woodwork to hear a talk, especially when an expert is doing the talking.
On Dec. 10, Dr. Will Russell drew some 125 folks to hear his talk, "Logging, Fire, and the Recovery of Old-growth Coast Redwoods," at Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto. The Committee for Green Foothills sponsored the event. Read More
When Linda Wallace, a manager for a telecommunications company, goes home at night she doesn't look forward to poring over the fine print of a complicated legislative bill. But that's just what she and a group of her neighbors in the Summit Road/Highway 17 area have been doing for the past month.
AB 904 (Chesbro), a timber bill being considered by the state legislature, is of great concern to these mountain residents. They fear that if AB 904 becomes state law, it will clear the way for a contentious logging plan -- which CalFire rejected in 2007 -- to go forward again. Read More
San Lorenzo Valley Water District is preparing to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars from its redwood forested watershed lands -- without cutting a single tree.
By conducting a rigorous inventory of the vast amounts of carbon stored in its forests, the district can qualify to sell carbon credits through the California Cap and Trade Program, a key piece of the state's Global Warming Solutions Act, also known as AB32. Read More
The only way to get to Dan and Pat Miller’s house in Aptos is to walk across a 3-ft wide wooden bridge spanning the steep canyon above Mangels Creek. As I cross the bridge, I feel like I’m walking back in time into a fairy tale. The Millers’ house, built in 1931, is dwarfed by the five giant old redwood trees that encircle it. Read More
It’s hard to imagine that the iconic coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) could be vulnerable to extinction. After all, redwoods have demonstrated legendary resilience to some fairly severe onslaughts. Even after massive clear-cutting, redwood forests have rebounded--as they have over the past century in the Santa Cruz Mountains--with a force reminiscent of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Redwoods are also renowned for their resistance to both fire and disease.
Yet, redwoods are at risk. Read More
Did you know that the world’s forests, including California’s coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are helping in a big way to combat climate change? As forests grow, they pull vast amounts of carbon out of the air and store it within their enormous biomass. Forests cover about 30 percent of the earth’s surface, so climate change scientists are looking at the forests with renewed interest to help solve the world’s carbon problem. Read More
On Dec. 16, Peninsula Open Space Trust [POST] and Sempervirens Fund became the official owners of the 8,532-acre property known as Cemex Redwoods, the largest expanse of unprotected redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The $30 million purchase from Cemex, the largest producer of cement in North America, was jointly announced Dec. 8 by the five conservation groups partnering in the deal [POST, Sempervirens Fund, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, LTSCC, Save the Redwoods League and the Nature Conservancy]. Read More