Bill Swindell, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A rapidly melting ice sheet in Greenland. Unprecedented flooding in northern England. A record wildfire season in the western United States.
The most recent headlines involving climate change can turn even the most optimistic environmentalist into a Debbie Downer. But on Friday, more than 50 volunteers set out to do their small part in trying to curb global warming by planting 1,300 redwood seedlings on property in the hills north of Cazadero.
The annual event, which has been conducted by Forest Unlimited since 1997, will continue Saturday on private property in the Gualala Ranch Association area near the south fork of the Gualala River. Over the past 19 years, the Forestville nonprofit group has planted about 28,000 trees around Sonoma County.
The native redwoods are an optimal tree to plant along the Sonoma Coast. They are hard to burn, an asset during wildfire season, and they can resist drought. Coastal fog can provide up to 40 percent of a redwood’s water needs as it condenses into precipitation on its needles, according to one study.
Old redwood forests also sequester three times more carbon above the ground than other trees, according to the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative. The initiative found that two mature redwoods can remove about 1,600 tons of carbon from the earth’s atmosphere, equaling how much an average American produces in their lifetime through carbon dioxide emissions.
“Forests provide us with oxygen. They sequester carbon. They provide us clean water. They provide us materials for our living,” volunteer James Haug of Sebastopol said.