Listen to the forests

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It is a good idea to take care of nature

We’ve been given a beautiful planet on which to live, is an idea shared by many people. It is also the seed of destruction of forests, rivers, oceans, and many wonders of the planet we take for granted, as if it was created just for us. We are stewards of the Earth, and we have failed.

Why would we continue destroying the forests when the West Coast is burning due to climate wildfires?

Let the forests go wild

In 2019, Dr. William Moomaw, a leading climate expert, suggested to stay away from the forests, stop forest management, and let nature take care of the forests. Moomaw describes in detail why proforestation is the best option. Old-growth forests, peatlands, and wetlands must be respected and protected from the worst invasive species – climate criminals.

The timber fallacy

Federal agencies in charge of protecting the environment, our food supply, and our national forests have failed Americans, following orders from the Climate Denier in Chief to prop up the U.S. economy before November 3.

Foresters claim young trees sequester more carbon than old-growth trees. There is no science behind this pervasive claim but there are peer-reviewed large studies proving the opposite. Old-growth forests are the natural climate solution, the best carbon capture and sequestration systems.

A January 2014 Nature report lead by Nate Stephenson on a large study of more than 400 species of trees from six continents, proved old-growth trees sequester more carbon than young trees. It is all about the number of leaves. “If a typical tree’s diameter grows 10 times as large, it will undergo a hundredfold increase in leaf mass and a hundredfold increase in total leaf area,” the study found.

In Arkansas, when people say they plant trees, they buy seedlings from the Arkansas Forestry Commission. The bare-root tree seedlings must be kept refrigerated and wet as they are fragile. I had 250 seedlings planted last February. Watering 250 seedlings is not an easy task, I left that to Mother Nature. It’s not easy to grow trees, it will take years before I see the results, but at least I tried.

Thinking of timber and counting the logs is like seeing New York skyscrapers and ignoring the complex underground networks –water pipelines, sewers, and high-speed communications that make NYC come alive.

Foresters see forests as timber, a primitive viewpoint that ignores that forests are resilient communities of a large variety of plants, wildlife, and trees. Everything has a purpose. Mother trees nurture their kin sharing energy, sugar, and water, connected by an underground fungal web.

Fungi are the largest organisms on earth, over 300 miles long. Mycelium is the global network of underground mycorrhizal fungi helping plant roots absorb nutrients and fight-off harmful, soil-dwelling predators. In exchange, the fungi receive sugars and nutrients from their host plant. To learn about fungi and the secrets of the forests, please watch “Fascinating Fungi” a must-see new movie.

Raking the forests will not prevent climate wildfires

Raking the floor of the forests is laughable. The federal government owns more than 640 million acres of land, how many rakes do we need?

Stopping carbon emissions today is the only way to prevent climate fires. Pictures of Paradise, California, destroyed by the Camp Fire show burned cars melting on the roads and standing trees!

The 2020 California wildfires have already generated more than 91 million metric tons of CO2, about 25 percent more than annual emissions from fossil fuels in the state, and the wildfires continue.

We can’t ignore droughts, insect infestations, heatwaves, and all other extreme weather events from burning fossil fuels.

Arson should come with severe punishment. We must be on high alert to stop arsonists before they strike. If you see something, say something. Arson is a Homeland Security threat deserving funding and resources.

Rise up

The U.S. Forest Service announced a final plan to open vast swaths of irreplaceable old-growth temperate rainforest to clearcut logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Please contact Corey Himrod, Alaska Wilderness League, (202) 266-0426, corey@alaskawild.org.

Dr. Luis Contreras

8 COMMENTS

  1. “Unclear Cutting in the Yale Forest”
    December 12, 2019

    Yale University owns vast timberlands in northern New England. Some question the stumps in the land.

    “Samson and I are in his black pickup, bumping along a gravel road a few miles into a dense woodland. The vast majority—81 percent—of New Hampshire land is forest. Every so often Samson slows his truck to say, “See how small this stuff is? There was nothing here when they cut it,” or, “If you look down through there, there is nothing; there is nothing left here at all.” But everywhere I look, except for a few unremarkable tracts where the forest has been cleared, I see trees—poplars, beeches, maples—and lots of them.

    I am not qualified to assess whether a logging operation is sustainable or not. But neither, really, is Samson. Even though he has spent more than seventy years hunting and snowmobiling in the New Hampshire woods, he is a county commissioner with no technical background in forestry. Still, Samson isn’t shy about sharing his opinion. The tree trunks are skinnier than they should be, he says, and they have been hacked down in recent years where they should have been thriving.”

    http://www.thenewjournalatyale.com/2019/12/unclear-cutting/

  2. A humble disclaimer

    Gov Asa Hutchinson has kept Arkansas informed and safe from the pandemic. My apology for my comment on forests

    Rep Bruce Westerman has a friendly staff, but I won’t be calling his office, he has never responded to my concerns. His phone is 202 / 225 – 3772.

    Bruce has great power, maybe he will take your call. Ask him about the February One Trillion Trees Act.

    I had someone help me plant 250 seedlings, about 3 inches tall. You need an open field and care for the saplings. Bruce is waiting to plant the first seedling … and loggers can’t wait.

    Bruce says, “Plant – Grow – Use” – this is a timber production model, not a forest!

    I love Nature and keep track of CO2-ppm and the number of weeks before 2030

    Jim Hansen is my guide, here he is 2 years ago. He will never give up, I won’t either.

    https://youtu.be/c22KjV7oGSg

  3. What happens in the soil is magical, like mushrooms

    Trees have a symbiotic relationship with microorganisms in the soil, like fungi. Fungi form white thread-like colonies on tree roots. Trees give carbon to the fungi in the form of sugar and in return fungi give trees nitrogen and phosphorus.

    You may need to go to Harvard to learn the details. If you go, look at what ecologists do, they understand nature.

    Urologists and neurologists are people you don’t want to know.

    http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2019/exploring-the-underground-network-of-trees-the-nervous-system-of-the-forest/

  4. The size and number of leaves determine how much carbon a tree capture.

    The volume of a tree is proportional to the height of the tree and the area of the trunk. The trunk grows with the square of the radius.

    The height of old trees grows slowly but the radius and the number of leaves in the branches keeps increasing.

    This is highschool geometry, you don’t need to go to Yale University sponsored by BigTimber

  5. To justify logging the forests and planting seedlings, Bruce Westerman says, “young trees grow faster than old trees.”

    Yes, the height of small trees increases, but the carbon captured and stored in tree plantations pales in comparison to old forests.

    Bruce sees timber in the forests, degraded as tree plantations. Bruce is not a forester, he is a tree harvester seeing trees as crops.

    He is not alone, Gov Asa Hutchinson counts logs and says Arkansas trees are crops

    https://governor.arkansas.gov/news-media/weekly-address/arkansas-timber-is-a-crop-too

  6. Forests as carbon sinks.

    Trees capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store carbon in the trunk and soil.

    Latest studies prove, “old forests and big trees capture and store more carbon than tree plantations with young trees.”

    Stored carbon is proportional to the mass of the trees. A 50-year-old tree will store more carbon than 49 skinny 5-year-old trees.

    Old trees and will continue storing more carbon over the years. Most trees live over 100 years and some live to be 1,000 years old.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140115132740.htm

  7. Rep Bruce Westerman (AR-R), the only Yale forester in the US Congress, can take an old-growth forest and make a tree plantation, using ArborGen fast growing plants.

    Bruce knows how to “manage tree plantations” and grow timberlands.

    The Yale Forest has been cleared cut for timber. Stumps don’t lie.

    It was a good “investment” – they bought forest land for pennies on the dollar – but you have to sell timber to make a profit. The Yale Forest is a “working forest”

    Yale students are outraged.

    “Yale can’t teach anyone to be a dependable forester until it acts like a responsible member of its own community,” Hannah Schmitt, a Yale senior, told a state committee.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-29/why-yale-owns-a-forest

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