If Redwoods had Elephants…

Our group gathers beneath the redwoods at Big Basin.
Our group gathers beneath the redwoods at Big Basin.

Recently, I had the honor of discussing research and forestry with guests from the Government of India and Michigan State University at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. This gathering was part of the US-India REDD+ Policy Exchange Tour and sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development.

Coming together under the tallest trees in the world, we shared our different perspectives on the social, political, and environmental influences that affect forests across the planet and talked about how we apply the latest forest science to make forest management decisions on the ground. I described a challenge we face among the redwoods in protecting endangered marbled murrelets in the parks because predatory blue jay populations are on the rise due to their consumption of human food waste. Afterwards, a member of the group commented that in India, they have trouble with aggressive elephant, tigers, and sloth bears. Oh my! It really put our pesky blue jay troubles in perspective and made me wonder what we would do if we had enormous elephants roaming through our California parks. Can you imagine?!

The differences between the redwoods and the forests of India are real. Yet, standing in the woods and talking about how we use research to address climate change and deforestation in parks thousands of miles apart, proved to me that forest science is a universal language that will help us all save our local forests. I found the day in the woods with my new forestry colleagues inspiring and educational, I hope we can continue this dialogue under the trees again soon.

For more information on Big Basin Redwoods State Park and where to go for a hike and forest discussion of your own, click here.

We talk about translating redwood forest science to India's northern forests.
We talk about translating redwood forest science to India’s northern forests.

About the author

Emily Burns, the League’s former Director of Science, led the research program that includes the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative. She holds a PhD in Integrative Biology on the impacts of fog on coast redwood forest flora from the University of California, Berkeley.

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