Big Trees in the News

The large coast redwoods of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.This week, Nate Stephenson and his colleagues published a new study showing that 97% of tree species grow faster as they age. Unlike in animals whose growth clearly plateaus with maturity, older trees just keep getting bigger and bigger. Large trees have more leaves for photosynthesis than small trees and they convert that green energy into higher rates of wood production.

Thanks to the research of Stephen Sillett and his colleagues, we’ve know this was true in redwoods for several years but we didn’t know how widespread this phenomenon was.  We are really lucky that this growth pattern is common in large trees around the world because these behemoths are pulling incredible amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as they grow and storing this greenhouse gas tree in tree trunks, branches and roots.

Old, large trees have never been more important on the planet in light of climate change. Let’s keep protecting our old forests and restoring the young forests, so the young trees of today can grow to their full potential.

For more on the amazing growth rates of redwoods, read about our recent Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative results here.




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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