Understanding Climate Change

The redwoods — Earth's ancient giants — stand at a new crossroads of environmental change where urbanization, habitat fragmentation, pollution, invasive species and climatic changes threaten them in ways they have not yet experienced in their long history on Earth.

More than 144 million years ago, in the age of the dinosaurs, redwoods’ ancestors flourished across the globe. In response to an ever-changing climate, they gradually retreated from the vast majority of their range. Now, throughout their current range, redwoods are encountering temperature increases. With rising temperatures, the coast redwoods have less coastal fog, and the giant sequoias face reductions in snowpack and earlier annual snowmelt.

In partnership with researchers from Humboldt State University, UC Berkeley and Natureserve and community scientists like you, we are studying the impacts of climate change on redwood growth, carbon storage and forest biodiversity through the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative (RCCI). Results from this research will help focus League efforts regarding where and how to best protect redwood forestland as environmental conditions change.

With your help, the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative (RCCI) will succeed!

2019-20: New Research Underway

Each year, the RCCI studies the health of redwoods across the landscape, measuring tree structure and growth rates in a monitoring network spanning 18 sites in the coast redwood and giant sequoia ecosystems. In 2019 and 2020, researchers will study redwood growth rates in 20 new forests. These studies will yield a better understanding of how climate change is uniquely affecting old and young, coastal and inland, and low- and high-elevation redwood forests across California. Learn more.

2013-14: Historic Research Yields Hope

Homer Hayward believed strongly in giving back to the community in which he lived and worked, and he devoted much of his time and prosperity to the future of those around him. Through their Nancy Eccles and Homer M. Hayward Family Foundation, the Haywards’ generous League donations have helped bring our groundbreaking discoveries to the world of redwood science.

The Foundation generously provided support for our Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative (RCCI), in addition to sponsoring the 2013 Redwood Ecology and Climate Symposium, where we announced research findings that show how our ancient coast redwood and giant sequoia forests are faring as climate changes. The findings drew an unprecedented level of media coverage from around the world. Learn more about these discoveries below.

Explore Redwoods Research

The RCCI team in October 2009 map tree and forest structure in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

RCCI Forest Network

Learn about how a network of old-growth forest plots is helping the League’s research team determine the impact of climate change on the redwood forest. See the discoveries our scientists have made about how redwood forests store carbon and redwood trees have grown over time.

Tree ring cores are collected from multiple locations in redwood trunks to quantify tree size, age, growth history, and physiological response to past climates.

Decoding Tree Rings

Tree ring analysis provides critical information on tree ages and how redwoods throughout California respond to climate conditions. See the initial discoveries our scientists have made about the age of the oldest-known coast redwood.

Participants at the 2014 BioBlitz in Muir Woods help the League collect important forest data.

Community Science

Help Save the Redwoods League scientists track climate change impacts on the redwood forest by becoming a community scientist. Learn more about our Redwood Watch, Fern Watch and Redwood Phenology projects.

Researcher Cameron Williams climbs a large Sequoiadendron at Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park. Photo by Anthony Ambrose

From the Field

Check out the RCCI Field Notes pages for photos, videos, updates and more from the RCCI scientists in the field as they conduct their research.

Funding Critical Research

With help from our Initiative Advisors and Research Partners, the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative will study the ecology of coast redwood and giant sequoia ecosystems in a changing world to inform forest conservation for the next 100 years and beyond.

The Leadership Funding Partners are helping lead the way to secure adequate funding for this important investigation. However, we still need your help.

Your donations are a critical part of the solution. Please make a gift today!

Join our newsletter

Get the latest redwood updates in your inbox
   Please leave this field empty