At least 10% of the world’s giant sequoias DIED in 2020’s California Castle Fire, study says
- Between 10-14% of the world’s giant sequoias died in Castle Fire in 2020: study
- The fire burned 273 square miles in Sequoia National Park
- The study looked at satellite imagery and modeling from previous fires to figure out between 7,500 and 10,000 sequoias died
- Sequoias are efficient at removing and storing carbon dioxide
- A giant sequoia was recently seen still smoldering from the Castle Fire, due to low snowfall and rain
- The fire was sparked from a lightning strike on on August 19, 2020
At least 10 percent of the world’s mature giant sequoia trees were destroyed by a single California wildfire that tore through the southern Sierra Nevada in 2020, according to a new report from scientists with the National Park Service.
The Visalia Times-Delta obtained a copy of the study that goes into detail that devastation caused by the Castle Fire, which charred 273 square miles (707 square km) of timber in Sequoia National Park.
The experts combined satellite imagery and modeling from previous fires to figure out between 7,500 and 10,000 of giant sequoia trees died in the fire. That is anywhere between 10 and 14 percent of the world´s mature giant sequoia population, the newspaper said.
‘I cannot overemphasize how mind-blowing this is for all of us,’ said Christy Brigham, chief of resources management and science at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. ‘These trees have lived for thousands of years. They´ve survived dozens of wildfires already.’
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The after-effects of losing so many trees, many of which have been around for thousands of years, could be felt for decades, forest managers said.
Sequoias, as well as giant redwood trees, are among the world´s most efficient at removing and storing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The groves also provide critical habitat for native wildlife and help protect the watershed that supplies farms and communities on the San Joaquin Valley floor.
At least a tenth of the world’s mature giant sequoias were destroyed by a single California wildfire that tore through the southern Sierra Nevada last year, according to a draft report
The Castle Fire charred 273 square miles (707 square km) of timber in Sequoia National Park
The fire was sparked from a lightning strike grew and spread throughout the region, burning an estimated 270 square miles (700 square kilometers) of forest as of December
A giant sequoia was recently seen still smoldering from the Castle Fire, due to low snowfall and rain, despite the fire occurring last year.
The fire was sparked from a lightning strike on on August 19, 2020, which then grew and spread throughout the region.
The paper has yet to be peer-reviewed Brigham, said, while adding the numbers are preliminary.
Starting next week, teams of scientists will hike to the groves that experienced the most fire damage for the first time since the ashes settled.
‘I have a vain hope that once we get out on the ground the situation won´t be as bad, but that´s hope – that´s not science,’ she said.
The newspaper said the extent of the damage to one of the world´s most treasured trees is noteworthy because the sequoias themselves are incredibly well adapted to fire. The old-growth trees – some of which are more than 2,000 years old and 250 feet (76 meters) tall – require fire to burst their pine cones and reproduce.
A stand of burned sequoias (pictured) in the Board Camp Grove in Sequoia National Park, Calif., following the 2020 Castle Fire
The Castle Fire charred 273 square miles of timber in Sequoia National Park
‘One-hundred years of fire suppression, combined with climate change-driven hotter droughts, have changed how fires burn in the southern Sierra and that change has been very bad for sequoia,’ Brigham said.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon have conducted controlled burns since the 1960s, about a thousand acres a year on average. Brigham estimates that the park will need to burn around 30 times that number to get the forest back to a healthy state.
The Castle Fire erupted on Aug. 19 in the Golden Trout Wilderness amid a flurry of lightning strikes. The Shotgun Fire, a much smaller blaze burning nearby, was discovered shortly afterward, and the two were renamed the Sequoia Complex.
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