Killed by extreme wildfires that tore through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, giant sequoia trees are starting anew. Seeds are being planted by forestry teams in the shadows of the burnt trees, hoping they will grow big and strong just like the thousand-year-old trees that were there before the fire. The forest needs this helping hand due to fewer and fewer seedlings naturally covering the forest floor. Park officials have brought in seedlings from more resilient sequoia groves, hoping they will have a better chance of growing strong.

However, this has led to quite a debate. Some conservation groups believe that such intervention should occur in areas of federal wilderness and the sequoia trees could regenerate properly on their own.

Recent fires have burned bigger and more intensely than sequoias are accustomed to, a result of the way humans have changed the forest. After the 2020 and 2021 fires, scientists watched the sequoia groves to see if the next generation of trees is emerging to replace their lost parents. In some places, seedlings are filling the forest floor. In others, fewer are emerging from the burned soil.

Wildfires Are Killing California’s Ancient Giants. Can Seedlings Save the Species?

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