Russell Kramer PhD, Forest Ecologist
“Based on my research and a review of the current best available science, a solid case for incorporating giant sequoias and coast redwoods into the mix of trees growing in the Pacific Northwest can be made for the following reasons……”
The Case for Planting Redwoods in the Pacific Northwest
- Redwoods get huge, so store more carbon than any other species on the planet.
- They live >1000 years longer than other PNW species because of their fire resistance and decay resistance, so thecarbon storage is more stable.
- Once they die, their heartwood is so stable, logs can store huge amounts of carbon, while new trees grow.
- Redwoods were once much more widely distributed and their current limited range is due to glaciation, not environmental mismatch.
- The only reason they are not already here is that migration has not kept pace with climate suitability.
- Coast redwoods in particular, have the genetic ability to adapt more than most other species because they have six sets of chromosomes.
- Redwoods are less likely to fall prey to invasive pests (arguably a more important risk to our local species than climate change) because they produce so many toxic compounds and have microbial symbionts that protect them.
- Fire resistance is the ability to survive a fire relatively unscathed (i.e., thick bark as insulation). Redwoods have both fire resistance and fire resilience, which is the ability to take considerable damage in a fire, but rebound afterwards (i.e., resprouting). They can regrow shoots from scalded branches, the trunk, and the roots. They essentially don't die.
- Once redwoods are established you do not need to rely on seed production to regenerate a forest that has been logged or burned. Redwood stumps re-sprout from the roots, and because these new sprouts have an extensive root system in place, they quickly outgrow competing vegetation (much faster than other conifers). This eliminates some of the largest cost inputs in forestry: nurseries, planting, and herbicides to control competing vegetation.
- From a biodiversity perspective, redwoods should be considered an integral part of a functioning ecosystem including many PNW natives. They should be planted with other species, not in mono-cultures.
Wood products grown via redwood could offer the PNW some economic stability because these forests are so much less vulnerable and command a market premium.
To read Dr. Kramer's extended case for planting Redwoods in the northwest, click here.
Watch Stephen Stillett, PhD, concur below: