Managing Forests Sept 12th


Trees have value when they are not cut down too.

Trees have value when they are not cut down too.

To a lot of people, forests and trees have no value until they are cut down and converted into lumber, but they do a lot to  sequester CO2 and provide oxygen, they purify water, they anchor down topsoil to prevent landslides, they provide for vital habitat, and they are pretty. So why are we so busy cutting them all down?

Inside Cities, “The USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station’s (PSW) scientists have found that for every $1 spent on planting and caring for a tree, the benefits that it provides are two to five times that investment. Benefits include cleaner air, lower energy costs, increased property values and improved water quality and storm water control.”

James Hanson said that if we are to limit future temperature increases due to climate change, we need to reduce CO2 by 6%/year and replant our forests. If we wait till 2020 we would need to reduce CO2 by 15% to achieve the same results.

Between 20% and 50% of the planets forests have been eliminated. As much as 90% of America’s woodlands have been cut down to make farmland roads or cities.

Trees have a larger value too. The trees in the Amazon that are now being cut and burned may contain vital medicines that we are not even aware of. Even if the trees do not provide medicines directly they provide habitats for innumerable plants and animals that might. They may be key to our own weather and are vital for absorbing CO2 and moderating the effects of Global Warming.

There is even an online tool to help you determine the value of your trees.

Scientists think the best way to fight global warming is to plant trees in the desert.

Growing trees in the desert. 6:40

Personally my biggest objection is “harvesting methods”. Tree cutting has become synonymous with clear cutting. This turns forests into a monocrop which is not healthy. With Climate Change and the associated drought, insects and disease affecting  our forests it is important to maintain a diversity of species. That is nature’s way to survive radical changes. If a forest has diverse species when disaster strikes, some species will survive and provide offspring to re-populate the forest. If it is a monoculture everything could be lost.

In a typical clearcut everything is eliminated except for two or three trees and then an herbicide is sprayed to kill underbrush. The theory is that the Douglas Firs that are re-planted need full sunlight and cannot stand competition, but that theory is questionable.

“On a typically droughty south-slope, consisting of an old growth stand, a recently thinned Douglas-fir stand, and an old unsuccessfully regenerated clearcut, 1200 seedlings were planted. An attempt was made to evaluate survival as a function of three parameters: light, moisture stress, and vegetative competition.”

“After one growing season, survival, was highest in the old growth stand with 614 percent, and lowest in the clearcut with 38 percent. In addition, Douglas-fir does not require full sunlight for survival Less than 30 percent of full sunlight provides the best survival conditions. “

Cutting down all of the trees, the brush, and then spraying, seems like a lot of extra work, time and money. Wouldn’t it be better to leave seed trees and trees of a different species to provide habitat for animals and to protect the forest floor from erosion?

Oregon forest plans

Hollow Promises – The 20-year legacy of the Northwest Forest Plan 5:14min.

Resource Management Plans for Western Oregon: State Director Jerry Perez 1:49

Forest Harvest Methods: Clearcutting, Restoration Thinning & Variable Retention Harvest 4 min.ea

We need to start looking at the true value of our biosphere before we destroy it. One of the best way to help the world is through reforestation. 2:55 min




About altruist1

I am a raging progressive and a writer. I received Bachelors degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Arts with a Secondary teaching certificate and a minor in Physics. I taught for about ten years, then did various jobs including welding,fabrication and traffic engineering, and am now retired. I am interested in science, energy, the environment, and architecture.
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