Our experts, informed by a world-class Science Advisory Panel, identify priority conservation lands and critical resources in the Santa Cruz Mountains essential to the long-term health of the redwood forest ecosystem. When those lands are not yet permanently conserved or protected, we consider the significance of protecting these lands due to factors such as their:
- breadth of biodiversity
- proximity to other protected lands and value as wildlife corridors
- forest size and condition, such as old-growth redwoods
- watershed integrity
- recreational opportunities
The most effective way to ensure that our land protection efforts are significant for ensuring healthy, connected coast redwood forests thrive in the Santa Cruz Mountains is by deploying criteria to evaluate and document a property’s benefit to wildlife habitat, critical watersheds, and other important natural, cultural, scenic, and recreational resources.
Since 2013, Sempervirens Fund has been guided by a Santa Cruz Mountains Redwoods Conceptual Area Protection Plan (CAPP), our strategic conservation plan to guide land protection efforts. Through the CAPP, we identify ecologically-significant lands within the coast redwood forest and associated communities of the central Santa Cruz Mountains.
We purchase and protect land
Since 1900, Sempervirens Fund has permanently protected more than 54 square miles of redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains, raising more than $50 million to purchase and protect forest lands. By pooling funds from donors in our community, from foundations, and from government agencies, Sempervirens Fund can buy land, establish conservation easements, and negotiate trail easements.
Because we have been working in the region for more than 120 years, our relationships with local landowners and our conservation partners are deep and strong. With support from our donors and with public matching funds, we act quickly and decisively to permanently protect redwood forests as new opportunities arise.
We care for the land
We manage, care for, and restore thousands of acres of redwood forests, ensuring that the lands we protect will be healthy, and thriving for generations to come. As we steward these protected lands, we work across the landscape, and in collaboration with neighbors and regional partners, to safeguard the health of trees, habitats, waterways, and wildlife.
It takes a dynamic community of committed partners to protect redwoods and we are privileged to be supported by generous donors, foundations, and institutions, and to work with a great many agencies, non-profits, and corporations. Meet our donors and partners.
Here’s how we protect and connect the local redwood forests:
Much of the remaining redwood forests to protect is privately owned. We work with willing sellers to purchase land at fair market value, often transferring the land to California State Parks or other local public agencies. We also own significant conservation properties, on which we work to restore healthy forests and heal landscapes.
Private ownership of redwood forests is essential to a thriving regional ecosystem. We work with private landowners to establish conservation easements that protect the natural and scenic resources on their forest lands, while keeping the properties in private ownership. The conservation easement protects the land’s resources without buying fee title to the property itself. Easements often limit building and other activities on the property, and the landowners receive compensation through a tax deduction or cash payment.
Timber Harvest Rights
To this day, timber is actively harvested in the region. Most landowners submit timber harvesting plans that feature scientifically-viable selective harvesting techniques. Where possible, we work with willing landowners, purchasing the timber rights on their property. Retiring the timber rights protects redwood trees and the land remains in private hands.
Our coast redwood forests are a marvel to explore. We expand access to redwood forest lands and connect trails, purchasing access easements on private land. These easements help connect our region’s existing redwood parks and expand hiking, biking, and horseback riding opportunities.