Redwoods & Climate

Redwoods keep the climate healthy for us all

The local redwood forests are crucial in providing a healthy, stable climate. Studies show that coast redwoods capture more carbon dioxide (CO2) from our cars, trucks and power plants than any other tree on Earth. Through the process of photosynthesis, redwood trees transform carbon dioxide – the leading cause of accelerating climate change — into the oxygen we breathe.

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When redwoods are cut down, burned or degraded by human actions, they release much of their stored carbon back into the atmosphere. And, they can no longer transform CO2 into the oxygen we breathe. This is a double-whammy for the growing imbalance in the world’s carbon cycle and the climate’s stability. Deforestation and other destructive land use account for nearly 25% of carbon dioxide emissions around the world.

Because California’s coast redwood forests are so efficient at capturing and transforming carbon, protecting them can have a significant impact in slowing global climate change. And, as the climate changes, the redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains are one of very few areas here that can provide a refuge for plants and animals to survive, because the area has many microclimates, is cooled by coastal summertime fog and is still largely unpaved.

Local carbon offsets and carbon bank

Sempervirens Fund has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Coastal Conservancy’s Climate Ready grant program to investigate whether it is feasible to create a carbon bank for the Santa Cruz Mountains region. This carbon aggregation bank would pool small carbon offset projects and provide an economic incentive to landowners for protecting redwoods — as an alternative to logging or development. This may be an effective way to bring more funding to redwood conservation while slowing the pace of climate change.

Lompico Forest Carbon Project

Before Sempervirens Fund stepped in and bought the Lompico redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 60% of the redwoods were slated to be cut down. Sempervirens Fund partnered with PG&E customers, through PG&E’s ClimateSmart program, to pioneer a carbon offset program that provides as much climate protection as taking 2,700 cars off the road for one year.

Located on 425 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Lompico redwood forest naturally captures and transforms massive amounts of carbon each year. By permanently protecting the trees, Sempervirens Fund ensures this forest continues to benefit our atmosphere and the Earth.

We sell carbon credits (greenhouse gas emission reductions) on an annual basis as the redwood trees continue to grow. The project, which follows stringent standards of carbon accounting set forth by the Climate Action Reserve, allows PG&E customers to join the fight against climate change and offset some of their carbon footprint. Their funding protects this forest and promotes climate benefits for everyone.

Studying Redwoods and Climate Change

While the redwood forests’ natural ability to capture carbon helps fight climate change, redwoods are not unaffected by changes in the Earth’s climate. For this reason, Sempervirens Fund is supporting Save the Redwoods League’s “Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative,” a study designed to understand the impact of climate change on redwood forests and to plan adaptation and mitigation strategies to help redwoods thrive today and long into the future. Sempervirens Fund provided two $100,000 grants to support this important study.

Redwood Champions Amid Drought and Climate Change article

Redwoods and Climate Change – KQED’s Quest program

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