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Partnering to Protect the Redwoods

Cotoni-Coast Dairies Property. Photo credit to Richard Rymer.

Sempervirens Fund and Save the Redwoods League: Partnering to Protect the Redwoods

Sempervirens Fund and Save the Redwoods League have been allies in the fight to protect coast redwoods since the League’s inception in 1918. Over the years, the two organizations have worked together through both informal collaboration and official partnerships.

Now, as new and complex challenges arise in our changing world, collaboration is more important than ever. We continue to partner with Save the Redwoods League on exciting and groundbreaking work. The Living Landscape Initiative (LLI) and the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative (RCCI) are two ongoing projects in which we come together to protect the redwoods.

San Vicente Redwoods. Photo credit to Ian Bornarth.

Living Landscape Initiative

Since 2011, Sempervirens Fund and Save the Redwoods League – along with Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), and The Nature Conservancy – have partnered under the Living Landscape Initiative (LLI) with the goal to “create and maintain a vibrant, sustainable living landscape in the heart of coastal California.”

The initiative was formed as a response to exploding urban growth in and around Silicon Valley. Through the LLI, the five organizations aim to conserve 80,000 acres of land over the next two decades, providing access to nature for the people of Silicon Valley, clean air and water, and added protection to wildlife. The LLI prioritizes the conservation of four types of areas: redwood heartland, coastal lands, the Pajaro Corridor, and essential links between those areas.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation provided a $15 million grant to help leverage the $45 million raised by the LLI partner organizations. By combining these funds, the organizations are able to tackle projects that are too big to take on alone.

A shining example of the initiative’s impact was when, in 2011, Sempervirens Fund and POST purchased San Vicente Redwoods, an 8,532-acre property near Davenport. In 2014, Save the Redwoods League purchased a $10 million conservation easement for the property, adding permanent protections to the San Vicente Redwoods, regardless of ownership.

In 2015 and 2016, Sempervirens Fund, POST, and the League created a plan for managing and restoring the San Vicente Redwood forest. Restoration projects are ongoing, including culvert repairs, erosion control, and invasive plant removal. San Vicente Redwoods connects 27,500 acres of contiguous protected woodland – making it a huge conservation win.

Photo credit to CA Dept Fish & Wildlife.

Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative

Save the Redwoods League also leads the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative (RCCI), “designed to help us better understand the impacts of climate change on California’s redwoods and to plan adaptation and mitigation strategies.” Sempervirens Fund supported the effort with two $100,000 grants and is also a collaborating partner.

Through the RCCI, the League and partners conduct groundbreaking research on redwoods and climate change. Partnering with Humboldt State University and the University of California-Berkeley, the League set up permanent research plots in redwood forests across California. Scientists have been monitoring everything from local weather conditions to redwood growth in each of the plots.

Initial findings, released in August of 2013, reveal striking facts. Ancient redwood forests store at least three times more carbon above ground compared to any other forest. We also know that California summers have warmed and precipitation from year to year is variable. Since the 1970s, changing environmental conditions have actually increased the rate at which coast redwoods and giant sequoias are growing. But researchers have yet to understand the long-term effects of climate change.

Research on this scale is vital for understanding the new challenges posed by climate change. By learning more about climate change and its effects on coast redwoods, we hope to make better decisions on how to protect redwood forests. The strong partnership with Save the Redwoods League is an integral part of Sempervirens Fund’s work to permanently protect the coast redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

San Vicente Creek. Photo credit to Ian Bornarth.


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