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 have endangered species status, as they are down to about 2% of their former territory, and hence, population. 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 call for a complete ban on killing native oaks of any size unless they are diseased. In lieu of–or perhaps alongside–a ban, we call for significant government incentives for landowners not to cut oaks. To this end, we plan to develop materials to support our case for this ban and incentive program.
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.
We welcome a collaboration for this and/or other oak monitoring and research with serious, knowledgeable researchers and biological systems analysts. We would also offer collaborative support for activists working for a ban on the cutting of healthy native oaks.