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What's possible in 2019

Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:50 am
by dbhguru

As the soul surviving active member of the people who established NTS, and its predecessor ENTS, I suppose it falls to me to deliver some kind of New Years message. I'll do my best. Here goes. But first, I should mention that our other arm, WNTS has two active establishing members, Bertolette and Michael Taylor.

Our overall mission stays the same, i.e. to celebrate trees and forests through art, music, poetry, medicine, food, science, sport, mythology, etc. We occasionally touch the surface of forest management issues and forest protection, but have agreed over the years that other organizations are positioned better to handle that mission.

If my count is accurate, 115 members have been active since Jul 1st, 2018 in the BBS. Sixty-four of those have been active since Dec 1st, 2018. It is pretty clear that the active group among us continuously stays below 100 and I doubt that is going to change in 2019. I cringe at the idea of drifting toward social media formats with their endless stream of trivia and vacuous posts.

As for my role in 2019, I hope to find a way to promote our tree measurements skills as relevant to the formal scientific community. That may be taking shape around the issue of how much carbon is taken up in the trunks and limbs of trees and how the process proceeds over time. This is becoming an immensely important issue to avant grade carbon scientists today, and we in NTS have the skills to measure tree growth and how it proceeds over time. Basically, carbon scientists are rediscovering trees as the cheapest solution to absorbing more CO2 by allowing forests too mature instead of rotating them every 25 to 50 years. But there is how individual trees behave and then there is aggregate stand behavior. Measuring both is much more complicated than simply concentrating on a few individually outstanding trees.

The more we can track tree and stand growth and correlate it to age, the more useful our role will be to science. One might argue that tracking stand growth is the province of forestry and that is true, but here in the Northeast, the traditional methods used have not accurately predicted the growth of the white pine stands that I spend so much time in. Working with a DCR forest biometrician in 2019, we hope to tighten the predictive process. I'll be working with some good people who truly do want to get it right.

In terms of NTS, we can talk about how best to proceed, but as a minimum, those with the measuring skills need to keep track of and record annual growth with increasing accuracy for lots of trees. This leads to more measuring, more instrument calibration, more methodology, etc. Maybe I'm talking us out of the role, but those of you who are game may just elp us establish the most important mission NTS has ever had.

Happy New Year Everyone

Re: What's possible in 2019

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:28 am
by Larry Tucei
Bob- Happy New Year! In 2019 I will re-measure several Live Oaks I have done in the past and to begin Volume measuring on some of them as well. I also know of several new large Live Oaks that I have not measured that I will get to. Larry

Re: What's possible in 2019

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:47 pm
by Erik Danielsen

I agree that this has shaped up to be an important mission where NTS can make unique contributions. In addition to repeated measurements of individual trees (which where we're starting from scratch could take a long time to produce convincing data, being far behind your long-term tracking of Mohawk and other sites), a useful methodology may be to identify landscapes in which a reasonable chronosequence can be constructed from selective plots allowing an immediate comparison of stand carbon at different successional stages.

Specifically right now I'm planning to apply that to Zoar Valley's main canyon, where multiple stands have had their stand ages and succession dynamics determined and laid out most usefully in this gem of a Diggins paper: ... 79.1.short

It may be difficult to identify other landscapes where similar work has been done to document such a complete sequence of stands in natural forest succession. I believe I have an upland low-index site (Herbert Mackie College Camp) where a similar sequence can be established in a mostly post-agricultural succession basis. But wherever there is existing literature or potential to do work that can establish such a chronosequence from existing stands, that site can be considered an ideal resource for approaching the question of stand-level carbon sequestration over time.

Efficiently accounting for hardwood crowns remains the most challenging aspect. However there's not much in the way of softwood-dominant mature stands left out here, so it remains necessary.

A last note regarding social media activity: tree appreciation groups on facebook can be wild and woolly places, and frustrating at times to those of us who are heavily invested in accuracy of information. To that end one of the groups Fred Breglia started and which John Harvey and I also moderate has been tightened down and revised as "Measuring the World's Largest Trees." All posts go through an approval process to see if they adhere to the group description. The sister group "Big Tree Hunters" remains the general discussion group.

As you'd except, tightening up the rules and guidelines really cut down on the overall group activity (and even disgruntled a few). This was expected and might even be a bit beneficial as the very active reposters of generic tree content drift away from the group- but from here I'm hoping to build group activity back up so that less experienced group members can be encouraged to start adding their own content and learning about measurement (some might even end up here if they get hooked!). To that end, I need what we would call "Leading Content." Posts from experienced tree-measurers that can fulfill the group guidelines and model what kind of content we're looking for. If you're a facebook-using NTS member reading this who burned out on posting trees to the usual groups because your contributions were buried beneath an endless stream of reposts about 7000-year-old baobabs, WE NEED YOU. Come on over. Here's the link: ... =bookmarks

Re: What's possible in 2019

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:34 am
by dbhguru

Thanks for the thoughtful post. Good luck with the Facebook Group. It sounds like you are approaching it in a way to make the individual contributions worth something. I've made little secret of my opinion about Face Book as a vehicle to further the NTS tree-measuring mission, but I can still see a group like yours serving a worthwhile purpose.

In terms of our direction in 2019, I often look to the past. It is hard for me to judge the current effectiveness of NTS. If I look back to what we have done over the years, we have an incredible cache of information that can't be found anywhere else. For example, the RHIs that have been compiled paint a very different picture of our emergent forests than is still the prevailing thinking among academic and professional groups about the growth trajectories of natural forests.

Our deep reservoir of information would not have taken shape had Ed Frank not stepped up to the plate and developed the BBS with all its flexibilities. But I expect that the BBS is intimidating to many with artistic, spiritual, and historical interests in trees who might otherwise join us when they see the intense numerical focus of the most vocal of us.

Although we are a science-based organization, our connections to the professional scientists has always been tenuous. They usually don't stray far from their professional circles and publishing orthodoxy. Nonetheless, I'd like to explore a more solid academic connection for us in 2019. Basically, we need an academic sponsor that backs our work, but how to bring that about and the form it would take is not yet clear to me. And even if we get one, its hard to promise the sponsor anything solid. You and Elijah have been incredibly productive. Joshua offers excellent insights to his forest and all that impacts it. But the personal effort required to keep the data flowing toward an unsure end is daunting. It rests on individual interests. We've seen good people come and go, and I can't say as I blame them if their assumption was that the scientific community was going to embrace our methods and measurements and give us standing.

Lots to think about these days.