Documenting the Giants

Canopy science for old-growth forests

Forest scientist and Oregon State University alumnus Steve Sillett studies and climbs the largest trees in the world. Since 1987, he’s climbed more than 1,000 of these arboreal giants, many of which reach heights greater than 200 feet tall and diameters upwards of 20 feet. Sillett’s study of old-growth forests — and in particular redwood canopies — has changed the way scientists view aged trees.

Sillett holds the Kenneth L. Fisher Chair in Redwood Forest Ecology at Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif. His research has been featured in National Geographic six times since 1997. He last appeared in the December 2012 issue, in which he discusses climbing the world’s second-largest tree in the Sierra Nevada. Recently, Sillett answered some of our questions about his research and what it’s like to climb into trees more than 3,000 years old.

Read the interview on Powered by Orange.

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