Why we do what we do
Trees around the world play a key role in human development and cultural progression. Civilizations have grown, prospered and fallen as a consequence of their relationship to forests. Even today, widespread deforestation still increases around the world. Our dependency on the resources trees provide, alongside an increasing population, contributes to the displacement and fragmentation of forests. Entire forests have been destroyed, and many plant and animal species driven to extinction. Old growth forests are particularly unique in that they harbor invaluable ecosystems that have evolved over millions of years. Many endangered species rely on the habitats that only large old trees can provide. Complex branch structure and a diversity of canopy niches with temperature and moisture variation are only a few such habitats. In some cases, deforestation has driven forest types and often entire species to extinction with little documentation or understanding of their importance or potential.
"Even through replanting and reforestation, we cannot replace indigenous forests." -Brian French
Champion trees are the largest and some of the oldest living specimens of their kind, and are ideal to showcase the complexity of the canopy environment. Therefore, champion trees are targeted by Ascending the Giants capturing never before seen footage during first ascents. We collect important data to document the unique environments in which these trees exist and that exist within them. Documentation is collected and exhibited to promote knowledge of champion trees and the programs in place to protect them. We aspire to achieve global participation in creating new champion tree programs, while drawing more attention to the programs that currently exist. Connecting and working with like minded scientific advisers to include cutting-edge canopy and forest research give these stories a greater depth.
We propose to extract critical information and photographically document trees of champion status to influence public perception on the importance of preserving some of the few remaining intact old growth forests for future generations to see.
"With the loss of our last remaining giant trees, we are courting not only a loss of biodiversity, but the loss of our collective ability to be awed by nature." -Will Koomjian
We do not focus on controversial topics associated with deforestation. Alternatively, we seek to showcase champion trees through photography, videography and adventure in a non-confrontational approach to advocate for old growth forest conservation.
Ascending the Giants is pursuing an ongoing series of expeditions dedicated to climbing and documenting all aspects of champion trees. Ascending the Giants' goal is to raise awareness of the importance of trees and the sensitive ecosystems that exist in and around them. Making updated accurate measurements and educating to promote champion tree programs will be the greatest tool for the success of these expeditions.
In climbing these remarkable trees, we are completely dedicated to a leave no trace policy. We use only non-invasive methods of ascending trees, and try to leave the tree exactly as we found it. This even means doing our best to leave every piece of deadwood, every broken, hanging branch, and every organism living in or around the tree intact. We plan to display these irreplaceable specimens in a way that increases knowledge of their existance and thier ecological importance.