California's tallest redwoods under threat from tourists

An ancient grove of giant trees in California has come under threat because of a recent influx of tourists.

The "Titans", the tallest trees in the redwood forest, were first discovered 20 years ago by researchers who kept their location secret. But a few years ago someone posted the coordinates on social media, luring thousands of tourists to the area in search of the secret grove.

Now the immense trees are in danger from the visitors' foot traffic. Those who successfully locate the Titans almost always take celebratory pictures in front of them, compacting the soil and damaging the trees' roots.

People are also hurting the trees by stepping directly onto them, breaking their bark and leaving them vulnerable to insects and disease. 

More than 95 percent of all of California's redwoods have been lost, thanks in part to the logging industry. Now the Redwoods Parks Conservancy is trying to raise US$1.4 million (NZ$2 million) to build raised walkways around the Titans, to allow people to get up close and personal with the trees without damaging them. 

The project would take around three years, so in the meantime visitors are asked to stay on the forest's official trails to give the redwoods a chance at reaching their 2000-year lifespan. 

CBS News / Newshub.