"Reviving the Redwoods"

"A mission to undo decades of damage to the redwoods of California caused by unchecked logging involves even more logging — and chain saws."

"In what was once an old growth redwood forest that was heavily logged in 1968, a National Park Service forester points to an unruly tangle of spindly trees, 900 to the acre and so jam-packed it is difficult to walk through.

Not far away is a section that was thinned 20 years ago, when the number of trees per acre was reduced to fewer than 300. The redwoods in this area are much larger in diameter and far more robust, the understory greener and more diverse.

“In the untreated forest, trees are not vigorous and are susceptible to stressors — fire, wind and bugs,” said Jason Teraoka, the forester. “But here with more diameter growth and crown growth, it’s a much more vigorous forest and less susceptible to disturbance.”

The thinned forest is part of a project called Redwoods Rising, which is aimed at creating old growth redwood forests for the future. Carried out by Redwood National and State Parks and Save the Redwoods League, a nonprofit, crews are using chain saws and logging equipment and planning prescribed fires, to mimic the traits of a young healthy redwood forest and undo the damage from decades of unbridled logging and indiscriminate reseeding. Treated forest stands, or communities of similar trees like this, researchers believe, will grow into the classic cathedral-like groves of redwoods over the next few centuries."

Jim Robbins reports for the New York Times with photographs by Ian C. Bates August 15, 2023.

Source: NYTimes, 08/16/2023