The reviving of the National Redwood Forest in Northern California has ecology experts wondering if more logging is the correct way to fix the damage. The Redwood National and State Parks and Save the Redwoods League have joined forces in stimulating a regrowth in decimated areas through the Redwood Rising thinning project. Their crews are planning to use destructive techniques that are to mimic a rebirth of youth redwood forests. Using logging equipment and prescribed fires in a method called thinning, their hope is to undo the damage of constant uncontrolled logging and inconsistent reseeding.

“We are trying to restore these forests to be more resilient so they will be able to withstand a hotter and drier climate. The logging left behind a forest that is very unnatural and unhealthy. We’re trying to make these stands as healthy as possible,” stated the Director of Stewardship and Restoration for the Save the Redwoods League, Ben Blom.

Conservationists and the park officials also hope the work will combat the effects of climate change. The redwoods act as a carbon absorber, taking in and storing more carbon than any other tree species. Sitting at the world’s tallest, reaching heights of 350 feet and living for hundreds to thousands of years, these majestic bodies are the lungs of the northern region. Unfortunately these forests are heading towards an uncertain future, being the only native redwood forest that extends more than 450 miles from central California to southern Oregon. Recent droughts and increases in temperatures have these trees drying out faster than before—the average summer in California has risen three degrees since the 1900s.

The California redwoods are a connected rainforest, with wet roots and thick overhanging branches. Many fear that these forests won’t be able to persist through the heat, essentially drying the species out. Due to their immense height, it's harder for them to pump water hundreds of feet upward, working against gravity. The hotter the weather becomes, the more moisture is sucked out of the trees, releasing more vapor than recycled back, leading to a decrease in photosynthetic efficiency.

The Redwood Rising thinning project, commenced back in 2020, has received both positive and negative feedback by researchers and experts. Some say that the efforts are a great way to promote size growth in retained trees, while others state that by leaving tracted areas alone, they will naturally return to a healthy state. Professor of Environmental Studies at San Jose University, Will Russell, argued that removing the trees would result in compacted soil, bring in invasive species, and open the canopy up to higher temperatures. But, Dr. Steve Sillet from Cal Poly, believes that introducing second generation redwoods have similar potential in becoming sky giants, creating a multitude of interconnected ecosystems.  

The decades of logging have also wrecked the streams on the Yurok Tribe’s reservation and ancestral lands, but restoration efforts put into action by tribal members will stabilize these waterways, and revive the runs of salmon and steelhead trout. Even though the tribal logging generations have stopped, the logging of second and third generation redwoods still pose threats to the surrounding environment.