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Redwoods and Climate Change

Coast Redwoods Are Our Greatest Ally in a Changing Climate

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.

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.

Sempervirens Fund protects and restores redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains to provide cleaner air and healthy, wildland for future generations and wildlife.

Redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains

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.

Read our Redwoods and Climate series to explore what the latest research tells us about how Earth’s constantly changing climate shaped redwoods over millions of years, how human-caused climate change is affecting redwoods today, and what the future holds for the iconic forests of the Santa Cruz mountains.

Redwoods Climate Change Fog

Redwoods and Climate Series

The Impacts of Climate on Redwoods: Part 1

Clues About Climate's Future from Redwoods' Past

Read Part 1

The Impacts of Climate on Redwoods: Part 2

What Redwoods Tell Us About Climate, and Water

Read Part 2
Redwoods Climate Change Carbon Offset

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.

On our Lompico property, we sold carbon credits (greenhouse gas emission reductions) on an annual basis as the redwood trees continue to grow. The project, which followed stringent standards of carbon accounting set forth by the Climate Action Reserve, allowed PG&E customers to join the fight against climate change and offset some of their carbon footprint. Their funding helped protect this forest and promotes climate benefits for everyone.

To learn more about this study on Redwoods and Climate Change, you can watch KQED’s Quest program.

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