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There are over three trillion trees living on planet Earth. All of these trees play an important role in cleaning our air, providing habitat for wildlife and inspiring a sense of awe as we move through a forested trail. But some of these trees (our redwoods in particular) have been doing these things for a bit longer than others.
Our big redwood trees are among the oldest living organisms. These trees can live upwards of 2,000 years – and have graced the planet for more than 240 million years. Many of the trees in our local mountains, however, are relatively young as we’ve lost most of our ancient redwoods in the last two centuries to industrial logging – it’s how we built our railways, homes and cities.
But not all of our big redwoods have disappeared. There are still a few of these impressive redwoods for you to visit in the Santa Cruz Mountains that have stood the test of time. We made this map so you can go see for yourself some of the biggest and oldest trees standing right in our own backyard (and, in fact, the world):
There’s something special about these trees.
These giants have withstood severe droughts, forest fire, storms, infestations and other hardships. Their survival through the ages can be attributed, in part, to good genes. As we work to restore our redwood forests, it’s important for us to understand and preserve this genetic lineage – some of these trees could hold the keys to the future health and resilience of our local forests.
But it wasn’t just good genes that allowed these giants to get so old. It took a bit of luck, too. Many of these trees have an unusual structure that’s made their lumber not economically viable, so lucky for them they were spared from the mill.
And, I guess, lucky for us too.
Visit our Field Guides Library to find more great outdoor adventures in our local open spaces.
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 77,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more