Large Old Trees at Risk

Open up the current issue of National Geographic to see photos of an incredible giant sequoia and the phenomenal diversity of plants and animals that live with this redwood in the forest. On the backside of the fold-out photograph of the “President” tree in the December 2012 issue, there are wonderful images of each creature that lives in, on and around the magnificent giant sequoia.

(c) 2012 National Geographic
(c) 2012 National Geographic

It never ceases to amaze me how each old coast redwood and giant sequoia tree is actually a forest in itself. Whole communities of plants and animals congregate under the treetops of these giants, thriving hundreds of feet off the ground, supported by the massive branches of the world’s tallest and oldest trees. Ferns, shrubs like the huckleberry pictured here, moss, lichen, birds, salamanders, and tiny rodents all call the old redwoods home. The more we learn about these giants through our research, the more we realize just how important it is that we protect these irreplaceable trees.

That’s why reading the recent story about the global demise of old and large trees has left me more motivated than ever to help save the giants we have left.  Forests around the world have lost many of their local giants from timber harvest, climate change, and land conversion. This means we are not only losing spectacular trees, but also the important habitat for canopy plants and animals that rely on the large old trees. It is a disturbing trend that hopefully will inspire new conservation activities across the globe.

It will take centuries to re-grow large redwoods to replace the ancient trees that have fallen. I’m grateful that Save the Redwoods League continues to protect oldgrowth forests so that we don’t lose any more of the special trees that are irreplaceable in our lifetimes.

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About Emily Burns

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.

Giant sequoia in Wasserburg, Germany

Redwood Stories


We regularly receive stories about the redwoods from League members and supporters.  Recently we received one from a member who joined the League in 1947.  The story made me wonder if humans are sowing the seeds of a much broader Continued

The ancient tree known as “Treebeard” has often been used as a traveler camp, and though burned from the inside many times, it has survived with some portions left dead from the fires. Photo by Mark Andre, Environmental Services

Old-Growth Redwood Burns in Arcata


“Transient Camp Causes Fire in Old-Growth Redwood Tree,” reads the headline posted by the City of Arcata at The fire did not damage just any old redwood.  It burned (and is apparently still burning) in ‘Treebeard,’ a redwood estimated Continued

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