Justin Garland - POST
By Justin Garland,
Redwoods Program Manager

When I say “redwood forest,” you probably think of gigantic old-growth trees found in a few special places around the Peninsula. These are the iconic redwoods that people travel across the world to see, and that some critically endangered species rely on for habitat.

You won’t see many of those giants, unfortunately, on POST-protected San Vicente Redwoods – an 8,532-acre property we protected in 2011 in partnership with Sempervirens Fund, Save the Redwoods League, The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and The Nature Conservancy.

Almost all of the old-growth trees at San Vicente Redwoods were clear-cut in the early 1900s – back before we knew just how ecologically devastating such a practice was. And while large areas of San Vicente have returned to healthy redwood forests, several areas of the property are in dire need of help. I explain this problem best in this short video:

 

What happened to this redwood forest?

The forests that have grown back at San Vicente Redwoods look much different than they had before. Where there used to be one giant old-growth tree, now there are many small, unhealthy trees. Overcrowded and stressed from too much competition for resources like water and sunlight, much of the forest is struggling to recover.

Why is this a problem?

It always takes a long time for a forest to recover after being clear-cut, leaving it at risk for a long time. But this is particularly a problem today in the face of a rapidly changing climate. Wildfire, drought, infestations and other stresses to the forest are all more likely in the years to come. And, quite frankly, much of forest at San Vicente Redwoods has not had enough time to recover and it’s not ready for what the future holds.

How are we helping?

We have a plan to heal this forest. Using the latest in conservation science and the practical knowledge of our local loggers, we are accelerating the recovery of this forest by removing some of the smaller, unhealthy trees. This is a technique that many land managers are using across the entire range of the species.

By removing some of the forest’s smaller trees, we’re eliminating some of the competition for the forest’s larger, healthier redwoods. With more available resources, the forest’s larger trees now have the chance to grow bigger and stronger faster. We’ve accelerated the recovery of this forest’s giant trees.

This work isn’t about re-creating some past forest condition, it’s about fighting to get this forest ready for what the future may bring. We’re excited to watch as the giants of San Vicente Redwoods return and this forest, once again, finds its balance.

 

 

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Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects and cares for open space, farms and parkland in and around Silicon Valley. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 75,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.

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