For several years, climate change and drought created conditions for uncontrolled California wildfires. These wildfires burned with such intensity, several Giant Sequoia, (Sequoiadendron giganteum), forests were heavily damaged. We have lost approximately 20% of the entire species, over 10,000 Giant Sequoias have been destroyed the past three years alone.
Although these magnificent trees are fire adapted, with an incredibly thick outer bark protecting the cambium within, the recent fires burned with such incredible intensity scores of trees were incinerated. Another fire adaptation are the Sequoia cones that normally open after a fire, distributing thousands of seeds that germinate and replenish the burned groves. Yet the fires were so hot, even the cones were destroyed, so the trees produced no new seedlings.
All of the groves are located in a relatively small band on the western slope of the southern Sierra range. Due to climate change, the southern Sierra range has become a dryer environment, very different than 2,000 years ago when these magnificent trees first germinated. As the forest regenerates, shrubs, fir, and cedar have replaced the Sequoias.
Sequoia seedlings require a lot of water to germinate and grow into juvenile trees. The hotter, drier climate and competition with other less favorable species, reduces Sequoia germination and ultimately, the survival of the species. Imagine Sequoia National Park without any Sequoia trees. Your kids and grandchildren might end up never being able to visit and enjoy these incredible trees. My father took me to the park when I was a child. My love for this species influenced my decision to study horticulture, eventually making my profession, first as a landscape contractor, later as a consultant and expert witness as certified and registered consulting arborist.
Fortunately, the Save the Redwoods League has teamed with the US Forest Service and National Park Service undertaking replanting thousands of redwood seedlings throughout several burned forest areas. The goal is to reestablish groves that can be managed to become fire resistant again. It is a massive undertaking, that has never been tried before. While the odds of any seedling becoming a massive, thousand year old monarch are depressingly low, (one in 10 billion), it is the morally right undertaking for mankind. Without restoration, the redwood groves will convert to shrub lands, a sad ending for the official state tree of California.
Read about the restoration efforts in this article from the Los Angeles Times.https://landscapeexpertwitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Los-Angeles-Times-eNewspaper.pdf