Forest interactions

Discussion of general forest ecology concepts and of forest management practices.

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jeffk
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Forest interactions

Post by jeffk » Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:02 pm

Hi Ents-
I ran across this article in the NYT (1/29/2016) about a forester in Germany (Peter Wohlleben) who has become an advocate for forests in themselves rather than a practitioner of forest management methods strongly focused on productivity. In fact, he has found that less reliance on machinery (using horses for example), pesticides, and letting woods grow wilder can increase yield.
Here's the article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/30/world ... =eta1&_r=0

I've recently come to the conclusion that a forest is defined by what's going on both below ground and in the canopy. The "trees" are really just hydraulic conduits between the two. The article implies this and also makes the point that trees are communal beings. This can be interpreted as some kind of spiritual connection, but also from a hard-nosed scientific standpoint, there is an incredible amount of communal interchange of fluids below ground via shared root systems, mycelium and ???

The notion that "cutting back a stand to get rid of the buggy old stuff and let in more light and air" produces a healthy forest becomes more and more tenuous in my mind. If the idea is to manage a woodlot for firewood, that's fine, but i fear the forest is diminished, both by reducing the subsoil and canopy networks, and by creating higher surface temperatures thereby affecting subsurface dynamics ... more light! more air!

Anybody know of forest ... i hate to call it management ... techniques similar to those used by Peter Wohlleben here in the Great Northeast?

JeffK

BTW - His book “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World,” is due out in a translation from the German this fall.

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Lucas
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Re: Forest interactions

Post by Lucas » Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:23 pm

We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

jeffk
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Re: Forest interactions

Post by jeffk » Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:33 pm

Lucas -
Yes I did, despite searching on Wohlleben's name. Thanks for pointing it out.

Joe

Re: Forest interactions

Post by Joe » Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:57 am

Jeff, there doesn't have to be a conflict between productivity and the other values. It all depends on how all these values are measured.
Joe

jeffk
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Re: Forest interactions

Post by jeffk » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:09 pm

Joe -
I agree that forestry can make the difference between destruction of a forest ecosystem and creation of a ... well, call it managed disturbance in order to harvest saw timber or whatever with an eye towards a sustaining the forest ecosystem, but Ithink forest management is often used as a tool to create narrow vision of "a healthy forest". Healthy for cutting saw timber at planned intervals surely, but that's only one person's definition of healthy; another healthy forest is filled with snags and rotting logs, untouched blow-downs, valuable and parasitic species ... so yes, you're right it comes down to values.

What impressed me about Wohllebens approach is that he appears to be advocating to allow the forest to develop fairly naturally (over its 200-300year cycle); and that this does not necessarily mean economic set-back.

I'm also drawing on the Wildlands/Woodlands process the DCR went through a few years back ... the big realization for me was that managed forests are not the same as natural forests! Why make the distinction otherwise? Same species, similar appearance (well not if you look closely), but definitely different in measurable ways. Having said that, there's a definite line in the sand in terms of values here too.

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Don
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Re: Forest interactions

Post by Don » Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:42 pm

Jeff-
I sense the tension between what you and Joe see as "good forestry" and I feel compelled to suggest that both of your view have their place in a strategy laid out in the tenets of Conservation Biology, where core 'intact old-growth forest ecosystems" are retained as are (with all the characteristics you mention, and more (ie, snages, rotting logs, untouched blow-downs, forest pathogens both parasitic and symbiotic [in balance]), where the "core" areas are buffered by a reasonably intact but disturbed (read, some post-settlement entries) forest ecosystems that are managed for old-growth characteristics and to protect the 'core' areas. Where possible, buffered core areas should be connected to others by corridors (serving both as pathways of floral and faunal passage).
Those areas previously managed well for forest products should continue to provide for our countries needs (I favor NO export of our natural resources) for lumber/construction/etc.
For those areas previously mis-managed and not capable of providing renewable resources, let it go to urban sprawl.
Something for everyone...
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

Joe

Re: Forest interactions

Post by Joe » Tue Feb 02, 2016 6:47 am

In much of the Northeast (and probably everywhere else)- most forests have been butchered in the past. They are not natural. Leaving them alone doesn't result in nice, natural forests- since they were high graded. A good thinning project makes them MORE natural, if the species that were most likely dominant centuries ago are encouraged to reclaim the site. Most of the good forestry I've seen in the past 42 years- results in forests that really look much nicer than they were before that work was done. High graded forests are ugly--- very, very ugly and truly not healthy no matter how you define that term.

It wasn't the DCR that did the Wildlands/Woodlands process, that was Harvard Forest that wrote a paper on the subject. The state had a "forest futures vision process" and I was on the technical steering committee for that. I fully supported the environmental groups which wanted a big chunk of DCR land put into reserves. I was probably the only forester in Mass. who supported that idea. I was considered a traitor for that! I felt that with the small DCR forester staff- they couldn't possibly do timber management on the amount of land they had- but even so, the rest of the forestry profession and of course 100% of the DCR folks- fought hard to retain the right to "manage" all their forest. After the shoddy work they did in the first half of the last decade- many should have been fired or demoted- so the fact that they "lost" some acreage they couldn't manage anyway- they should have been happy with that "punishment".

As it is- what management they do- isn't done economically because it costs the taxpayers a lot more to fund these state foresters than the value they produce- due to low productivity and generous salaries/benefits.
Joe

Joe

Re: Forest interactions

Post by Joe » Tue Feb 02, 2016 7:02 am

Don wrote:I favor NO export of our natural resources
-Don
Don, without the export market- forestry work in the Northeast would collapse. When the both the American housing market and export market was strong a decade ago- that was the golden age of forestry in the Northeast- with record prices for stumpage. Then came the housing collapse and the import market for timber grew very fast- almost wiping out the timber markets for the Northeast- which are only now beginning to recover. It wasn't a Great Recession for Northeast forestry, it was another Great Depression. Thanks to "free trade"- it's a lot easier for other nations with poor forestry practices to send their wood here. (in my opinion, "free trade" is one of the worst things to ever happen to the American working class- and to me, a huge black mark against the Clintons who supported it as much as any Republican- just think if China which has grown rich exporting their products here- were to come here to buy our Northeast timber- rather than wood raped from Siberia and Indonesia)
Joe

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Don
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Re: Forest interactions

Post by Don » Tue Feb 02, 2016 1:48 pm

Joe-
Would you also support the lifestyle of western ranchers who have enjoyed the subsidy of range lands in public ownership. Even though those western ranchers represent .001 % of the US population and supply less than that percentage of America's beef? For dollars per acre? With the broadscale introduction of non-native plant communities?
I know, it's a western problem...but you're a member of the public and have a say on the use/abuse of lands in public ownership.
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

Joe

Re: Forest interactions

Post by Joe » Tue Feb 02, 2016 4:30 pm

Don, I think everyone should become vegetarian- then let those range lands go back to the buffalo! Actually, I think we should give North America back to the Indians.
Joe

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