Russell Kramer PhD, Forest Ecologist
Resilient Forestry LLC
“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 they store more carbon than any other species on the planet.
- They live more than 1000 years longer than other PNW species because of they are fire resistance and decay resistance, so their carbon storage is more stable.
- Once they die, Redwood heartwood is stable so logs can store huge amounts of carbon while new trees grow.
- Redwoods were once widely distributed and their current limited range is due to glaciation, not environmental mismatch.
- The only reason they are not abundant here is that their 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 pressing risk to our local species than climate change. They produce many toxic compounds and have microbial symbionts that protect from pests.
- 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 the trunk, the roots and from scalded branches. They’re almost immortal.
- 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. These new sprouts have an extensive root system so they quickly outgrow competing vegetation (much faster than other conifers). This regrowth 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 that includes many PNW natives. They should be planted with other species, not in mono-cultures.
- Redwood products can offer the PNW economic stability because these forests are less vulnerable and command a market premium.