California is a magnificent state, with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. It is also home to some of the most magnificent trees in the world, the giant Redwoods. These trees have survived for millennia, fending off attacks from diseases and fire. Now they face a new threat, the combined effects of sudden oak death and fire.
Usually resistant to the effects of wildfires, California’s coast redwoods are now burning as fast as other trees. Why?
To find answers, plant pathologist David Rizzo of the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) and colleagues monitored more than 80,000 hectares of forests near Big Sur, Calif. In their plots, tanoaks, California bay laurels and coast redwoods grow.
The study began in 2006. “In 2008, almost half our plots were burned by wildfires that lasted the better part of a month,” says Rizzo.
That was the beginning of the end for many coast redwoods, surprising researchers who expected the trees to be fire-proof.