Firefighters in California have wrapped aluminium blankets around Giant Sequoia trees in California’s Sequoia National Park, to protect them against wildfires.
The world-famous National Park hosts an ancient grove of over 2,000 Giant Sequoia trees. Park officials were worried that the Paradise and Colony wildfires blazing through the national park for over a week could reach the grove.
Giant Sequoia or Sierran redwood is a species of redwood, that is endemic to California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. The trees are the largest in the world and can grow to an average height of about 80 meters, and while their trunks can measure around 7-8 meters in diameter.
The largest tree currently in the grove, nicknamed General Sherman, is about 83 meters tall and is estimated to be around 2,500 years old. The species is classified as endangered in ICUN’s Red List.
General Sherman wrapped in an aluminium blanket. Credit: United States National Park Service
Over 300 firefighters have been mobilized to fight the colony and paradise forest fires. Bases of several sequoia trees, including General Sherman, have been wrapped with fire-resistant aluminium foil to protect against fire.
The decision comes after a wildfire burned through thousands of sequoias in 2020, killing some trees which were thousands of years old.
Sequoia trees have evolved to resist forest fires, allowing them to live for thousands of years, while park officials have been practicing burning parts of the forest floor in a controlled manner to stop wildfires from reaching across the park.
Yet, according to officials, the increasing number of fires in recent years can overwhelm the trees’ ability to withstand the fires.
Aluminium blankets can withstand intense heat for a short time. According to the LA Times, United States Federal officials have used the material for similar purposes for several years throughout the western part of the country.
The forest fires are the latest of the over 7,400 fires witnessed by California this year. Rising temperatures and extreme drought, exacerbated by climate change have increased the frequency of the fires.
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