It’s redwoods vs. red wine in Sonoma County, CA where climate change is prompting the destruction of forests to make way for wineries. And environmental groups are not too thrilled about it.
The majestic redwood forests found throughout northern California and southern Oregon are home to trees over 2,000 years old, standing over 350 ft tall. Redwoods love the cool coastal region, but so do winemakers. On Oct. 18, a coalition of groups including the Sierra Club California Redwood Chapter and Friends of the Gualala River continued the fight against Spanish owned Artesa Vineyards and Winery, in a Santa Rosa, CA courtroom to halt the leveling of 154 acres of coastal redwoods and Douglas firs in Sonoma County.
In May 2012, the clearing project was approved by California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire). After extensive research and analysis, they concluded that no environmental damage will come as a result of the leveling. The winery argues that the trees in this particular area are less than 100 ft tall and are not old-growth trees, thus, not a forest. They also added that old-growth trees will be spared.
Environmental groups feel otherwise and in June 2012 countered back with a lawsuit, suing on the grounds that state officials violated California’s environmental protection laws by approving the plan. They argue that the trees in this area provide habitats for wildlife and combat erosion, which has been a major problem for streams in the area. And, the redwoods aren’t the only concern. California’s oaks do not share the same environmental protection laws placed on redwoods and Douglas firs, and Northern California oak forests, which serve as a habitat to more wildlife than the redwoods, are being decimated at alarming rates due to vineyard expansion.
This isn’t the first fight to spare Redwoods, and it won’t be the last, globally speaking. According to a 2013 study, it is predicted that global warming will cause a dramatic shift in the world’s wine regions. Because of this, the wine industry is turning its eyes to wilderness regions in British Columbia and China, where the winemaking industry is quickly growing due to suitable climates.