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Grades 6-8: Have You Ever Seen Something Thousands of Years Old That's Still Alive?

Grades 6-8: Have You Ever Seen Something Thousands of Years Old That's Still Alive?

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Published by: California State Parks on Jul 12, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/25/2012

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GRADES
6-8
Coast Redwood
Redwoods
®
Have You Ever Seen Something
 Thousandsof Years Old
 That’s Still Alive?
 
They are the world’s tallest living things and are also among theoldest. Some coast redwoods that are alive today were living2,000 years ago. This was during the time of the ancient Romansand before people built the great Mayan cities! Walking amongthese ancient trees is like stepping back in time.Coast redwoods are relics from the past. They come from a timewhen the Earth’s climate was warmer and wetter than it is now.Their ancestors were alive during the age of the dinosaurs andwere quite common in areas throughout the Northern Hemisphere.Redwood fossils millions of years old have been found along thecoasts of western Europe and Asia, and throughout the westernUnited States and Canada.Over millions of years, changes in Earth’s climate reduced thecoast redwoods’ range to a narrow 450-mile strip along thePacic Ocean from central California to southwestern Oregon.Today, this is the only place in the world that coast redwoodforests grow naturally. In this belt, heavy winter rains and densesummer fog provide the trees with the year-round water they need.
Coast redwoods are rare and unique trees thatlive in parts of California and Oregon.
10-Story BuildingCoast RedwoodGiant SequoiaApple Tree
CaliforniaPacic OceanOregonCoastRedwoodRange
 
 Threats
When roads, power lines and poorly planned real-estate
development
break up the forest, the complex connectionswithin the forest community are cut off, spelling doom for theremaining forest. In fact, this
fragmentation
is one of thebiggest threats to today’s remaining ancient redwood forest, whichis mostly made up of isolated groves in parks or forestlands.Another major threat to the ancient redwood forest is logging.While much of the remaining ancient redwood forest is protectedin parks, thousands of acres are on private land and could stillbe logged.Logging and poorly planned development can even threatennearby redwood forest areas. These threats may cause
erosion
,increased air temperatures and other environmental problems thatcan damage the ancient trees and other forest inhabitants.Save the Redwoods League believes
climate change
is anotherserious threat to coast redwoods. Many scientists are concernedabout warmer temperatures and changing weather patterns. Theyworry these changes will reduce the coastal fog on which redwoodsdepend and may decrease the current range of redwood forests.Together we are studying the possible effects of climate change sothat we can keep protecting these amazing ecosystems.Each element of the ancient forest is connected to others in waysthat we may never fully understand. To save the remaining ancientredwoods, it is clear that we have to save the forest as a wholeinstead of just saving individual trees.
Photo: Phil Schermeister

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