Red Wood Forest
Have you ever thought about the existence of prehistorical father and mother trees ?
Yes, they exist! They grow in the coastal area along the Pacific Ocean in California. The oldest and giant trees in the world: The Red Wood Forest.
Officially, the oldest living coast redwood is at least 2,200 years old, but foresters believe some coast redwoods may be much older, appearing on Earth 200,000 years ago shortly after the dinosaurs, and before the appearance of flowers, birds, spiders... and humans!
The “Red wood” is the common name for the scientific Latin: Sequoia sempervirens,(which means "always green"); They form part of the long-lived evergreen species. This species includes the tallest living trees on Earth, reaching up to 379 feet.
What is more astonishing is the incredible and unique diversity discovered in the ecosystem of those trees. One Red Wood tree contains an entire ecosystem. This means that within one tree, there are species of animals and plants that don’t exist in any other part of the world, not even in the closest neighbouring Red Wood Tree.
Follow the talk of Richard Preston about the uniqueness of the Red wood Forest:
Unfortunately the 96% of the red wood forest has been destroyed and just the 4% is now protected by The Redwood National Park and the Sempreverdis Fund.
ABOUT SEMPERVIRENS FUND
The Sempervirens Fund is a land trust based in California’s Silicon Valley, whose purpose is to protect, expand and care for the redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Since 1900, the Sempervirens Fund has permanently protected more than 34,000 acres of local redwood forests and watersheds for people, wildlife and future generations.
Today, the Sempervirens Fund is working to reassemble a vast and vibrant redwood forest between Silicon Valley and the Pacific Ocean.
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE?
WEST COAST LUMBER TRADE
Since the Gold Rush in California in 1848, the Coast Red Wood was one of the most valuable timber species in the lumbering industry.
During the West Coast lumber trade, which was a maritime trade route on the West Coast of the United States, carrying lumber from the coasts of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington mainly to the port of San Francisco, about 95% of the local Red Wood Forest was cut down. The area became one of the most resourceful areas in north America in providing wood to build (and rebuild) cities like San Francisco, San Jose and beyond.
Here is a short version of a documentary of the Lumber Trade shot in 1946. One can hear the comments of one of the speakers when he describes the forest as being ‘set aside for our enjoyment’. It is clear that at the time there were no ecological policies or indeed any propensity towards caring and protecting nature or an awareness of the effects of its destruction on our planet and ultimately, us.
As we know trees are crucial in maintaining a stable, human-friendly climate. Studies show that coast redwoods capture more carbon dioxide (CO2) from our cars, trucks and power plants than any other species of tree on Earth. Therefore, by protecting our local redwood forests, we are making a major contribution towards stabilising global climate. If these redwood trees are overcut, burnt or degraded, the climate is harmed two ways: (1) there is an excess of CO2 as the trees loses its capability of capturing CO2, and (2) it it produces a reverse effect by releasing enormous amounts of stored carbon into the atmosphere.
Globally, deforestation and other destructive land use account for nearly 25% of CO2 emissions. It must be remembered that as the climate changes, the redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains will be one of the very few areas that can provide a refuge for plants and animals to survive. This is because the area has many microclimates, and is cooled by coastal summertime fog as well as being still largely unpaved.
The Red Wood forest ecosystem of Northern California depends on fog to stay hydrated during rainless summers. In California, relatively little rain falls in summer, and therefore during this period the Red Woods are especially dependent on fog for moisture to grow and survive. Studies show that fog supplies 13-45% of the total water used annually by redwoods.
Fog may condense and drip to the soil, where it can be taken up by roots. Alternatively, some plants are able to absorb the water from fog through their leaves, allowing these plants to immediately benefit from the atmospheric moisture that may never reach the forest floor.
In addition, fog blocks the evaporating rays of direct sunlight, reducing the amount of water that redwoods lose by transpiration.
SURVIVOR OF THE FOREST
Redwoods live long lives because they are extremely resistant to insects, fire and rot. For this reason, they are treasured by humans for building. A redwood’s bark can be 1 foot thick, and it contains tannin, which protects the tree from fire, insects, fungus and diseases. There is no known insect that can destroy a redwood tree. Fire is not a big threat because the trunk is thick, and can store lots of water. The bark doesn’t have flammable resin like a pine tree does.
THE DAY OF DISCOVERY
May 11, 1998 is known to some botanists as “The Day of Discovery”. The day in which, Steve Sillett, a botanist and professor of redwood forest ecology at Humboldt State University and the naturalist Michael Taylor discovered the Grove of Titans in Red Wood Forest. The Grove of Titans is a redwood grove in Del Norte County, Northern California, which includes several massive coast redwood trees, some of which are among the largest known redwoods in terms of wood volume.
To find out more about their adventurous expedition, read Richard Preston’s Article.
The names of some of the redwood forest trees: Gaia, Hyperio and Chronus, come from Greek Language. In the greek mythology, Gaia,(the name of the oldest redwood tree),was the personification of Earth, and together with Uranus “the Sky”, they gave birth to twelve Titans. One of them was Hyperion, which literally means 'The High-One' (fitting name for the tallest redwood); Another of the titans was Chronus (which later came to mean 'time' but was arguably originally derived from the Indo-European for 'the cut' or 'the cutter', which hopefully never happens to the this tree).
The tree called “Iluvatar” it’s the world's third-largest coast redwood and it is located among a group of trees called Atlas Grove. In J.R.R. Tolkien's Mythology Eru Ilúvatar is the transcendent creator of the LOTR universe and existence. In Tolkien's invented Elvish language, Quenya, Ilúvatar signifies "Father of All". It's a beautiful and fitting name for a being that has given "birth" to so many other trees from its own trunk.
More Curiosities and Facts:
Super trees: climbing a giant Sequoia.National Geographic photographer Michael "Nick" Nichols takes his work to new heights, capturing the beauty of a 3,200-year-old, 247-foot-tall sequoia known as the President.
Regrowing the redwoods: Giant tree Clones are planted to combat blight of forest devastation.
Books to advice: