The fires that ravaged California this year are considered the worst on record. Images from Big Basin Redwoods National Park show the extent of the damage, but also the rebirth of some trees.
The iconic sequoias in Big Basin Redwoods National Park in California have black bark and brown leaves. In total, 97% of the park’s 7,000 hectares were ravaged by fires near Santa Cruz last August. The San Jose Mercury News shared images filmed on November 10 by the Save the Redwoods League association using a drone, making it possible to realize the extent of the damage.
Big Basin is the oldest national park in the state of California and is home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coastal redwoods south of San Francisco. Some are almost 90 meters long and are over 2,000 years old.
The drone notably filmed a close-up of the tree nicknamed Mother of the Forest – “Mother of the Forest” – whose top broke after being hit by flames. Despite these distressing images, the Mother of the Forest, very popular with tourists, should however survive, like other affected sequoias.
Most violent fire since 1904
“There are parts that were severely burned, where we could have in places 100 % mortality ”, explained Jim Campbell-Spickler, a biologist at Humboldt State University. “But most of the redwoods have survived, and three months later you can already see shoots on some trees.”
The Californian daily recalls that redwoods have a very thick bark that allows them to regrow after a fire, as long as at least 10% of their inner layer is not affected.
Big Basin had not seen such a fire since 1904. The national park is expected to remain closed for a year. But scientists say it will take decades for the redwoods to regain their luster.