Handful of Heavyweight Trees Per Acre Are Forest Champs

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

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edfrank
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Handful of Heavyweight Trees Per Acre Are Forest Champs

Post by edfrank » Thu May 03, 2012 8:02 am

Handful of Heavyweight Trees Per Acre Are Forest Champs
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 184416.htm


Click on image to see its original size
Washington State University's Mark Swanson pulls a tape tight around a 4-foot-wide sugar pine, one of the 34,500 live trees counted and tagged for long-term study in a Yosemite National Park study plot. (Credit: Washington State University)
ScienceDaily (May 2, 2012) — Big trees three or more feet in diameter accounted for nearly half the biomass measured at a Yosemite National Park site, yet represented only one percent of the trees growing there.

This means just a few towering white fir, sugar pine and incense cedars per acre at the Yosemite site are disproportionately responsible for photosynthesis, converting carbon dioxide into plant tissue and sequestering that carbon in the forest, sometimes for centuries, according to James Lutz, a University of Washington research scientist in environmental and forest sciences. He's lead author of a paper on the largest quantitative study yet of the importance of big trees in temperate forests being published online May 2 on PLoS ONE.
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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dbhguru
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Re: Handful of Heavyweight Trees Per Acre Are Forest Champs

Post by dbhguru » Thu May 03, 2012 9:44 am

Ed,

Good post. You'd never convince the forestry establishment of the value of the big stuff here in Massachusetts, though, where briar patches, seedy saplings, and shrub-lands are considered to be the signs of healthy forestlands - forests by their definition. Lots of lovely deer, cute bunny rabbits, and ticks. All of which what we want more of. So, let's hear it for the tick population. My Lyme disease is acting up this morning. I'm in a lousy mood.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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Co-founder and President
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Rand
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Re: Handful of Heavyweight Trees Per Acre Are Forest Champs

Post by Rand » Thu May 03, 2012 4:55 pm

Everything I needed to know about forest ecology I learned from disney:
bambi.jpg
bambi.jpg (42.19 KiB) Viewed 3501 times
<ducks>

Joe

Re: Handful of Heavyweight Trees Per Acre Are Forest Champs

Post by Joe » Fri May 04, 2012 7:22 am

dbhguru wrote:Ed,

Good post. You'd never convince the forestry establishment of the value of the big stuff here in Massachusetts, though, where briar patches, seedy saplings, and shrub-lands are considered to be the signs of healthy forestlands - forests by their definition. Lots of lovely deer, cute bunny rabbits, and ticks. All of which what we want more of. So, let's hear it for the tick population. My Lyme disease is acting up this morning. I'm in a lousy mood.

Bob
Right--- and of course it's nice to have SOME early succesion habitat- but that's not what's in short supply anywhere in New England- what's in very short supply is old growth, something the forestry establishment not long ago thought barely existed. Yet, I hardly ever hear them talk about how we need to have much more old growth- the trivial amount that does exist is probably too much for them already.

Though the state, after the Forest Vision Process, is going to allow some state land to grow into old growth- most of the forestry world here thinks that's a terrible idea- though only a minority of state land is henceforth "locked up" in reserves, forestry people bitch that most state land is locked up Sheesh, if only they did great work with what they have, even then they couldn't manage all of what's available to them.

Small clearcuts I don't mind- I've seen some recently that look interesting- baby birch and cherry trees are nice, especially if such dense young stands are thinned out to allow those baby trees more room to grow- but, such stands are not remotely as interesting as old growth, for countless reasons.
Joe

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Don
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Re: Handful of Heavyweight Trees Per Acre Are Forest Champs

Post by Don » Fri May 04, 2012 1:48 pm

A couple of things I wanted to relate here...first, Bob, so sorry to hear of your tick encounter, Lyme Disease becomes much more real when you know someone who has it...may your reserves amass, and kick it's butt!

Second, I SOOO agree with Joe on
"...forestry people bitch that most state land is locked up Sheesh, if only they did great work with what they have, even then they couldn't manage all of what's available to them".

My perspective is that the single greatest disappointment I have with government land management agencies is the legacy lost with, for lack of better word, their incontinence. They, with remarkably few exceptions (and all in the research area), seemed incapable of retaining any long term records of silvacultural treatments across the broadest spectrum of forested ecosystems, perhaps in the world. Seemingly with each transfer of silvicultural specialist, the files were emptied and tossed. What a waste!

After such a rant, perhaps no one will have stayed with me, but the primary item I wanted to respond to is the "Handful of Heavyweights..." topic. Anybody who has travelled to and/or lived near the West, and had a chance to pass through/visit the Classic Mixed Forest band of vegetation that runs the length of California's west-side of the Sierra Nevadas, or the Temperate Rain Forest that runs from the California border (coastal redwoods) up through Oregon and Washington, HAS to be amazed at the remaining forests of high density, high volume, mixed species trees. WHile I haven't had the chance to talk with Mike Taylor on this, I suspect he'd have something to add...he's seen some of the best!
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
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Don
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Re: Handful of Heavyweight Trees Per Acre Are Forest Champs

Post by Don » Sat May 05, 2012 2:54 pm

Having now read the article that started this thread (what a concept...;>) I was pleased to see the following statement,

"Before the fires were started, crews raked around some of the large trees so debris wouldn't just sit and burn at the base of the tree and kill the cambium, the tissue under the bark that sustains trees," Lutz said

as I had come to similar conclusions, after studying the effect of raking debris/duff away from the base of all large ponderosa pines within the plots studied in my research at Grand Canyon Nationanl Park. This prevented the cambium and root system from injury that it would have sustained from the burning duff. Once the fire burns into the duff, it no longer needs oxygen, and burns more intensely and longer, much like peat burns without oxygen. I concur with Lutz's conclusions and support the managment of wildfire in returning such forests towards pre-settlement wildfire regimes, which is to say, a lower burn intensity, higher frequency wildfire regime.
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

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Bart Bouricius
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Re: Handful of Heavyweight Trees Per Acre Are Forest Champs

Post by Bart Bouricius » Sat May 05, 2012 5:07 pm

This is Important information, I remember in the late 80's when I was more involved in tropical forest preservation, there was an article by a tropical forest ecologist pointing out that in tropical moist and rain forests, the bulk of the sequestered above ground carbon was in be boles of the forest giants. Why should it be any different in other forests. As we log the oldest trees, we are creating a massive carbon debt that essentially can never be repaid, especially considering how long it takes for these trees to grow, and how much damage the logging does to the soil by exposure to sun and drying, creating conditions where the invasive plants do best. If you think about it, the old concept of carbon neutrality relative to regular managed deforestation, even if it were true, would mean that the forests, which next to the oceans, are probably the most important carbon sink on the globe, can not possibly fulfill this function as long as they are being regularly cut. I think we need more than a few museum old growth threes, but a commitment to vastly increase the area on which we will permit the trees to get old and stay indefinitely unmolested.

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Rand
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Re: Handful of Heavyweight Trees Per Acre Are Forest Champs

Post by Rand » Sat May 05, 2012 7:28 pm

Don wrote:A couple of things I wanted to relate here...first, Bob, so sorry to hear of your tick encounter, Lyme Disease becomes much more real when you know someone who has it...may your reserves amass, and kick it's butt!

Second, I SOOO agree with Joe on
"...forestry people bitch that most state land is locked up Sheesh, if only they did great work with what they have, even then they couldn't manage all of what's available to them".

My perspective is that the single greatest disappointment I have with government land management agencies is the legacy lost with, for lack of better word, their incontinence. They, with remarkably few exceptions (and all in the research area), seemed incapable of retaining any long term records of silvacultural treatments across the broadest spectrum of forested ecosystems, perhaps in the world. Seemingly with each transfer of silvicultural specialist, the files were emptied and tossed. What a waste!

After such a rant, perhaps no one will have stayed with me, but the primary item I wanted to respond to is the "Handful of Heavyweights..." topic. Anybody who has travelled to and/or lived near the West, and had a chance to pass through/visit the Classic Mixed Forest band of vegetation that runs the length of California's west-side of the Sierra Nevadas, or the Temperate Rain Forest that runs from the California border (coastal redwoods) up through Oregon and Washington, HAS to be amazed at the remaining forests of high density, high volume, mixed species trees. WHile I haven't had the chance to talk with Mike Taylor on this, I suspect he'd have something to add...he's seen some of the best!
-Don
When I visited the sequoia's I noticed that most big trees had burn scars in the concavities between the major roots. Judging by the heaps of duff re-accumulated I'm assuming that is where they came from. Here's a couple of pictures comparing the Boole tree today versus a historical picture:
IMG_4091.jpg
IMG_4102.jpg
You can see the piles of duff and the greater fire damage.

BTW if anyone gets a chance, burning a piece of sequoia bark is fun to watch. The resin just sorta boils out of the fibrous matrix, leaving behind a carbonized mass that looks a lot like steel wool. Surprisingly enough, it's the same principle used by the heat shields in the early space program to protect vehicles from re-entry.

http://www.centennialofflight.gov/essay ... Tech19.htm

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Handful of Heavyweight Trees Per Acre Are Forest Champs

Post by Larry Tucei » Wed May 09, 2012 6:57 am

Ed, A really interesting article. I have not had the privilage to be in such a Forest. The only one close has to be Congaree. I think as long as greed rules the Old Growth Forests are in trouble. The govt. has plenty of land to set aside some for the trees to become Old Growth! Larry

Joe

Re: Handful of Heavyweight Trees Per Acre Are Forest Champs

Post by Joe » Wed May 09, 2012 8:24 am

Larry Tucei wrote:Ed, A really interesting article. I have not had the privilage to be in such a Forest. The only one close has to be Congaree. I think as long as greed rules the Old Growth Forests are in trouble. The govt. has plenty of land to set aside some for the trees to become Old Growth! Larry
here in Mass., after the Forest Futures Vision Process, which set aside roughly 20% of all state owned land as reserves, the timber/forestry people went bonkers- now they claim that the tree huggers have locked up all the land and that's what's killing the wood industry, which is crazy

which is why it's tough for governmnet to lock up any land, resistance is always so strong

Joe

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