SEquoia Crest, California. A worker digs a hose into the clay soil and places a brittle redwood sapling in the hole. It then packs the earth around the trunk and moves to the next location, then the next, and so on. Gradually, the slope of the mountain, where the grove of Alder Creek is located, is covered with small thickets of green needles.

Naturalists fear that giant sequoias will never grow on this charred hillside unless they are replanted. Thousands of these trees were destroyed by fires that devastated large swaths of this forest in the southern Sierra Nevada three years ago. Their cones, from which new seedlings usually grew, turned into ashes.

Some time ago, such devastation would have been unthinkable, but today, due to climate change and the decisions that are made regarding the management of the territory, the forests of the Sierra catch fire more easily, and such situations occur more often. “Giant Sequoias in Existential Crisis” explains Tim Borden of Save the Redwoods League.

19% of the world’s population was destroyed

Some of the 30,000 sequoias planted in this forest could live for thousands of years and one day become some of the tallest trees in the world – provided they survive the next few decades. The scientists hope that the lessons they will learn from this project will enable them to ensure the survival of these majestic conifers.

Until recently, no one believed that reforestation efforts would ever have to be made to save giant sequoia stands. Fires, in particular, were not much of a concern, as these trees, which grow naturally only in a 100-mile-wide strip of forest on the western slopes of the Sierra, are well adapted to fire. They do have tall branches and thick bark that protect them from flames, and their cones only release seeds when they are exposed to intense heat.

But over the past eight years, a series of wildfires have wiped out hundreds of redwoods, wiping out all of their foliage. Between 2020 and 2021 alone, three fires have wiped out at least 19% of the global population of these mature trees. For Tim Borden, this figure indicates the threat of extinction looming over the species.

Forests prone to fire

In the summer of 2020, less than a year after the Redwood Rescue League purchased 530 acres of land. [210 hectares] in the forest of Alder Creek Grove, dry lightning set off what has been called a “castle fire”. For several weeks, Sam Hodder, president of the NGO, watched the fire develop with dismay. Then, on September 13, in just a few hours, flames driven by the wind crossed the ridge and reached the site. Sam Hodder knew the forest was in bad shape. The fires started from