Have you ever seen a giant sequoia up close? There really is nothing like it. Commonly known as redwoods, they’re the oldest and largest trees on the planet – often as wide as houses and over 300 feet tall. Gazing up at them is one of the most humbling experiences in nature; rarely do you feel so small and so young.
But sequoias aren’t just important due to their humbling beauty; they’re also resilient and irreplaceable stores of carbon. California’s ancient redwood trees store more carbon dioxide per acre than any other forest in the world, including tropical rainforests like the Amazon. Considering the battles to come, the carbon part of a redwood is much more important than the timber part.
Due to their age and beauty and vital carbon storing superpowers, redwoods have often been a battleground between environmentalists and loggers who are far more interested in their durability as timber. But a huge victory has just been won by a century-old conservation group, the Save the Redwoods League, with their $15.6 million purchase of the largest private sequoia forest in the world: Alder Creek in California.
Since 1918 the Save the Redwoods League has worked to protect and restore redwood forests, mostly through purchasing large tracts of private land, creating national parks and educating young people about these majestic behemoths. In the last century they have protected more than 200,000 acres of redwood forests, while connecting countless generations to the wonders of nature.
Alder Creek is a 530-acre forest not far from Yosemite National Park, the redwoods’ iconic home. It has been private property since the 1940’s, a source of alarm for conservationists. As well as being very pricey, the battle has been hard won. The Save the Redwoods League have been negotiating to purchase the land for 20 years.
With their big-budget acquisition of Alder Creek, they have secured a future for these ancient trees. “Old growth of any species, let alone the world’s largest trees, is extremely rare,” said the group’s president, Samuel Hodder. “There is precious left of the natural world as we found it before the industrial revolution, and Aldre Creek is the natural world at its most extraordinary.”