There are many aspects of redwood trees that make them ideal for taking action on climate change.
Redwood trees are fast growing, massive, long-lived, rot resistant, easy to cultivate, and awe-inspiring. They store more carbon per hectare than any other tree on Earth—coast redwood trees sequester triple the above-ground carbon than any other type of tree. Carbon is stored in redwood trunks, and amazingly, soils and roots store even more! Due to logging, dam construction, deforestation, wildfires, illegal marijuana cultivation and more, however, coast redwoods are listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The loss of coastal redwoods in California also impacts critically endangered coho salmon and other species. Turtle Island Restoration Network launched 10,000 Redwoods to provide individuals, schools, and businesses a direct way to engage in the climate change challenge through the simple act of planting trees to sequester carbon, and restore habitat where ancient redwood forests once grew.
In order to promote genetic diversity, we grow coast redwoods from seeds collected within our watershed with students at several partner schools in Marin County, California. Students care for the seedlings through the spring semester and bring the young redwoods to our native plant nursery at the end of the school year. Redwood cones contain around 80 seeds each and typically begin to fall in November. We collect cones as soon as they begin to fall, and stratify them for 20 days. After stratification we open to cones and extract the seeds. With this method the seeds are ready to be planted in January and are seeded at a high density, around 300 or 400 seeds per flat, due to low germination rate (a mature tree can produce up to 100,000 seeds per year, but only one in twelve seeds are viable). Germination begins about three weeks after planting the seeds. Redwoods need sun to grow so our six-inch deep seed flats are kept in the greenhouse. The seedlings are always kept moist. Approximately four to five months after germination the seedlings are transplanted into a small tree pot that allows for long roots to form. The seedling will grow in our nursery and develop a long root system for three years before being planted.
When the trees have fully rooted into a treepot—which allows the trees to develop a root system approximately one foot long—our staff, interns, volunteers, students and community members plant redwood trees in carefully selected areas throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. We also add native companion plants such as snowberry, thimbleberry, and gooseberry to help create a diverse ecosystem. We hope to increase redwood forest ecosystems throughout the Bay Area, as redwood forests have been reduced to only 5% of the land that they occupied prior to the 1800s when many redwood forests were logged and land was cleared for development. Following establishment of a robust root system, which redwoods focus on for two years following planting, a healthy redwood will grow 5 to 6 feet each year. Redwood trees can easily reach 150 feet within a person’s lifetime—about four times as tall as a telephone pole!