Wildfires in California over the past five years have claimed nearly 20% of the world’s largest Sequoias. Frequent fires in the Sequoia National Park and the surrounding forests have claimed a third of groves in California. Last year alone, forest fires claimed nearly 10,400 trees of the 75,000 trees that are native to the western side of the Sierra Nevada range.
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Climate change has been blamed for the recent change of status. High temperatures leave dry logs beneath the canopy, creating a ripe environment for fires.
“The sobering reality is that we have seen another huge loss within a finite population of these iconic trees that are irreplaceable in many lifetimes,” said Clay Jordan, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. “As spectacular as these trees are, we really can’t take them for granted. To ensure that they’re around for our kids and grandkids and great grandkids, some action is necessary.”
Most of the giant sequoias take hundred and even thousands of years to grow to maturity. When they are destroyed, there is no hope of having them grow again in our lifetime. Further, these species are major carbon sinks, and their combustion releases tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
After Castle and SQF Complex fires, officials decided to take some steps to save the giant trees. For instance, the General Sherman tree, the largest living tree on earth, was wrapped in a foil blanket. A fire-resistant gel was dropped on tree canopies across the parks, sprinklers watered down trunks and flammable mater was removed from trees.
In the past five years, the state has experienced the largest fires in history. Last year, California experienced the largest forest fires in history in terms of acreage burned. This year has so far brought the second-largest amount of land that has been burned.
Lead image via Unsplash