The primary threat to oaks is that they are still viewed as property owned by the title holder to the land in which they live, rather than as integral members of the web of life there. Oaks are killed in this region primarily by landowners who sell them for firewood. We believe that California native oaks are all threatened species, and that valley oaks, in particular, should be considered endangered. To use the language of commerce, their ecosystem benefits (primary players in local effective water cycles, sequesterers of carbon, temperature moderators, soil builders, wildlife habitat and food, etc.) far outweigh any amount of money paid for their one-time use as firewood. Therefore, we encourage more energy be put into defending their right to exist, and support a complete ban on cutting native oaks unless they are diseased. In lieu of–or perhaps alongside–a ban, we’d love to see significant government incentives for landowners not to cut oaks. To this end, we plan to develop materials to support the case for this ban and incentive program.
On the Preserve, we never cut a healthy oak, we remove barbed wire from them, we prune out their dead wood, we plant acorns, and we protect young oaks by caging them until they are big enough to withstand browsing without significant set-backs.
In addition, we would eventually like to publish a thorough comparative analysis of intact oak woodlands with orchards that have been planted where oak woodlands once existed. We see that this analysis could be a starting point for a movement that exposes the vast damage caused by agriculture in California and articulates a clear picture of the transition needed to return to truly sustainable human cultures here, and could be an impetus for a whole new kind of oak restoration movement, one that sees oaks as a food source far more appropriate than olives, walnuts, almonds, rice, etc.
See our Restore Oak Woodlands page for details on the benefits of native woodlands, as well as information on the threats to their existence.