For The Wild’s 1 Million Redwood Project is dedicated to renewing and preserving the biodiversity and resiliency of Cascadia’s temperate rainforest through holistic research, biomimetic reforestation, land conservation, and living libraries of native seed and fungi.
Since the inception of our 1 Million Redwoods Project, we have continued to learn how severely and extensively industrial logging and rampant development have impacted forests of the redwood bioregion. Up to this point, reforestation of logged land has primarily focused on a small number of profitable species, which are planted with damaged roots, laden with chemicals, in compacted soil. These trees are significantly compromised in the absence of essential fungal allies, companion plants, and the guidance of grandmother trees. This legacy of industrial logging and unprecedented climatic shifts are begging us to ask the question: how can our reforestation efforts encourage biodiversity and climate resiliency?
Our vision for Biodiversity Enhancement Test Plots has emerged in response. Guided by the work of forest ecologists Peter Wohlleben and Suzanne Simard, forest geneticist Sally Aitken, and biomimicry pioneer Janine Benyus, these test plots aim to reforest biomimetically, through a succession of native seed and fungi bombs.
The initial phase will include a mixture of fungal and bacterial inoculants, for a thriving belowground ecology is foundational to any land renewal. The particular assemblage of species accounted for will be dependent on location and level of site degradation. Ecosystem engineering native shrubs, grasses, and early successional tree species will be followed by shade-requiring herbaceous plants and slower-growing trees.
CARBON SEQUESTRATION OF REDWOODS
Coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) stand supreme in their ability, as the tallest, most bio-massive and structurally complex trees on Earth, to sequester three times as much aboveground carbon as any other forest type. In one year, a single mature redwood can absorb the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to what a car emits during 26,000 miles of driving. Even young redwood saplings uptake carbon at a more rapid rate than most full-grown trees. Yet despite the incalculable biological wealth, climate mitigating potential, and sheer magnificence of coast redwood forests, less than 5% of original old-growth stands remain and only 2% of the entire range is protected.
A LIVING LIBRARY
The nursery, the seed bank and fungus bank, as well as the surrounding research forest will function as a living library and ark to safeguard endangered genetics. We will collect seeds, clonal cuttings, and fungal spores throughout the entire latitudinal and elevational range of the coast redwood. Variants of coast redwood will be the central focus in our reforestation efforts, accompanied by coexisting trees of the region, such as Douglas-fir, tanoak, canyon oak, chinquapin oak, bigleaf maple, Sitka spruce, Pacific yew, and Pacific madrone. Our progressing research will guide the inclusion of native fungi and understory plants in future reforestation projects. We will initiate our plantings in Mendocino County and continue to expand within northern California, prioritizing in accordance to forest risk assessments and wildfire impact. Plantings will take place on both public and private lands, in areas degraded by logging, grazing, and agriculture. We are seeking out sites that nurture the continuity of wildlife corridors, genetic flow between disjointed forest stands, and the augmentation of buffer zones surrounding wilderness areas. The more trees that we plant now, the more carbon that will be sequestered and webs of life that will flourish for generations to come.
AN ECOLOGICAL RESEARCH CENTER
As the anthropocene continues to befall us with unprecedented and extreme climatic shifts, For the Wild takes heed to the call for scientific research to be adaptable and holistic. For too long, restoration efforts have fixated on illusory ecosystem states of the past. For the Wild recognizes that natural systems are fluid and dynamic, and that true ecological renewal lets the complex intelligence of nature lead the way. Our research and restoration endeavors will nurture the intrinsic adaptive capability and resilience of biodiverse temperate rainforests. The synthesis of rigorous academics and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), stemming from relationships with local First Nations, will be paramount in all of our research initiatives.
Disjointed, degraded, and diminished habitat, compounded with the limited seed dispersal of long-lived conifers, has set a stage in which many forest species are unlikely to be able to naturally migrate in unison with severe climate change. In response, For the Wild is deeply interested in exploring the possibilities of assisting the northward migration of redwood varieties towards habitable climates of the future.
Our skilled team is keen to delve into research topics such as: assessing techniques of native plant and fungal propagation; fungal and floristic diversity of regenerating forests in all successional stages, building upon the existing 70+ years of logging and regrowth data of our surrounding area; mycelial interactions and compatibility with local plant species; mycoforestry; soil microbiology; soil water and nutrient retention; closed loop system biochar production; redwood canopy dynamics; seed bank assessment in old-growth stands; salmon stream restoration.
Our research will be replicable and accessible, allowing others to implement effective restoration practices guided by our findings. The research center will be multi-scalar, encompassing studies applicable to individuals or small communities interested in fostering native species, as well as to logging companies hoping to integrate restorative methods into their operations. Additionally, we hope to contribute novel findings to scientific literature and publications.