Sudden Oak Life is a movement aimed at improving the health of trees and forests in California and elsewhere through practice, education, and research.

Our numbers include tree care professionals, forest scientists, master gardeners, school teachers, organic farmers, homeowners, college students, and plain ol’ tree huggers, who follow a ecological model of tree health, one that considers the ecology of forests and soils in the prescription of methods and compounds designed to improve the site quality and soil fertility. Our approach is analogous with the wellness model of human health in that it pays particular attention to nutrition and alkalinity of the ecosystem.

We contend that the great oak forests of California are largely the product of traditional land care practices by Native Americans over thousands of years. Native people understood that oaks, pines, and many other trees are “fire-adapted” (meaning that the overall health of the forest is improved by periodic fire), and they used this knowledge in applying fire wisely to the land, thus keeping plants and soils healthy.

Now, with the displacement of the native people, the lands are no longer being managed with fire. Strict fire suppression measures have resulted in forests that are overgrown and the soils depleted in nutrients. With the loss of vitality, trees are succumbing to catastrophic wildfires, diseases, and pests at ever-increasing rates.

The solutions put forth by Sudden Oak Life do not focus on treating a particular disease or insect. Rather they are designed to help the trees through environmental practices that mimic fire. As practitioners of ecological tree care we employ a suite of methods that involve clearing, pruning, soil remineralization, composting, mulching, and more. All materials are natural products commonly used in organic agriculture. We do NOT advocate the use of any toxins, including chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or pesticides.

An invitation to join our work is kindly extended to all.

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Sudden Oak Life is led by Dr. Lee Klinger, an independent scientist and consultant with over 40 years of experience in studying the structural and chemical ecology of forest and peatland ecosystems in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Dr. Klinger has over 50 peer-reviewed publications in the fields of ecology, botany, atmospheric chemistry, geology, and geophysiology; and has held scholarly appointments at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Colorado, the University of Oxford, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


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