Home » Posts tagged 'trees'

Tag Archives: trees

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Pruning newly planted trees

Pruning newly planted trees

As the climate warms the value of trees for cooling the environment around buildings, especially in cities, drives tree planting programs. Planting trees is just the first step in growing a tree in a sustainable landscape. Successful plantings require evaluation and guidance of the new tree’s current and future branch architecture. In almost every case, nursery grown trees will require some structural pruning so that a shade tree can develop strong and effective branch attachments that will support the canopy for the coming decades without failure. In this blog I cover maintenance of the newly planted tree including how to structurally prune young trees so that they develop strong and sustainable canopies.

As mentioned in earlier pruning blogs, trees do not require pruning. This is predicated on the assumption that trees are allowed to grow in the way they are genetically programmed to grow without damage. Unfortunately many container nurseries prune trees with a heading cut to the central leader in order to create branches that can further be pruned to make a “lollipop” canopy that mimics the form of a large tree. Consumers have become accustomed to this “in-pot” miniature version of a shade tree and nurseries are accustomed to producing them. Low branches are removed to enhance the tree lollipop shape. Nurseries often stake trees tightly to provide a way to keep them from being blown over in wind events and since all the temporary branches are removed from the low trunk they are top heavy and require rigid staking usually with a stake taped to the trunk. Tightly staked trees grow taller than unstaked trees and their trunks may lack caliper or taper (increase in trunk diameter lower on the stem)…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Save the planet, (learn how to) plant a tree”

“Save the planet, (learn how to) plant a tree”

I like catchy memes as much as the next person. They’re easily memorized and passed on. But “Save the planet, plant a tree” has always bugged me for two reasons. First, and probably most importantly, this simplistic mantra absolves people of doing MORE to improve our environment. It’s a “one and done” approach:  “Hey, I planted a tree today, so I’ve done my part.” That’s hardly a responsible way to live in a world where climate change is a reality, not a theory. Planting trees (and other woody plants) needs to become part of a personal ethic dedicated to improving our shared environment, and that includes reducing our carbon footprint in MANY ways.

Second, and more germane to this blog, is that most people don’t know how to plant trees (and that includes an awful lot of professionals who should know better). Planting trees properly requires an understanding of woody plant physiology and applied soil sciences. Otherwise, newly planted trees are likely to die due to one or more problems:

  • Poor plant species selection
    • Mature size too large for site.
    • Species not adapted to urbanized conditions. This includes insistence on using native species whether or not they tolerate environmental conditions far different from their natural habitat.
  • Poor/improper soil preparation
    • Working amendments into the soil before, during, or after planting. Your goal is to keep a texturally uniform soil environment.
    • Digging a hole before seeing what the roots look like. It’s like buying a pair of shoes without regard to their size.

Where Does Vancouver’s Urban Forest Need to Grow Next?

Where Does Vancouver’s Urban Forest Need to Grow Next?

The city strategy faces a tricky challenge: inspiring the growth of trees on private land.

Over the last decade, the City of Vancouver has focused on growing the urban forest to combat tree loss and foster climate resiliency. But if that’s going to happen, the key will be promoting more trees on private land.

It’s an urgent priority for the city. Fewer trees means more exposure to air pollution, heat waves, flooding and other climate impacts.

Vancouver’s Urban Forest Strategy, launched in 2014, has mostly focused on what it can control — protecting existing trees from being cut down and planting new trees wherever it can — and it has seen some good success, hitting its original goal of planting 150,000 trees by 2020.

But that’s largely happened on public land.

Meanwhile, according to the city, the removal of trees on private land is responsible for reducing Vancouver’s urban forest from 22.5 per cent to 18 per cent between 1995 and 2014. Sixty-two per cent of the city’s trees were on private land at the time, the strategy noted.

2018 update to the strategy showed that while trees have increased on public property, in places like parks and on city streets, growth has still been declining on private land, where a third of the urban forest still remains.

In December 2020, the Vancouver Park Board set an admirable new goal for the strategy: to increase the canopy cover of the city’s urban forest from its current level of 23 per cent to 30 per cent by 2050.

But can that happen while trees on private land keep diminishing?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Household tissue is a climate issue

Household tissue is a climate issue

Trees are the source of much of our household tissue. And trees and soil store huge quantities of carbon to add to greenhouse gas totals.

LONDON, 27 June, 2019 − The household tissue you use to blow your nose could be adding to the problems of climate change.

A substantial portion of the tissue products we buy – toilet paper, paper towels and facial tissues – comes from boreal forests, the dense ring of trees which encircles much of the globe just below the Arctic Circle.

These forests – and the soils they stand in – contain vast amounts of carbon; when trees are felled and the land they are growing in is disturbed, carbon is released into the atmosphere, adding to the already dangerously high levels of climate-changing greenhouse gases.

A new report looking at tissue use in the US says Americans are voracious consumers of tissue products; they make up only 4% of the world’s population yet account for more than 20% of global tissue consumption.

The report, by the US-based environmental organisation, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), says much of the tissue in the US originates from trees in Canada’s boreal forests.

“The consequences for indigenous peoples, treasured wildlife and the global climate are devastating”

“This vast landscape of coniferous, birch and aspen trees contains some of the last of the world’s remaining intact forests, and is home to over 600 indigenous communities, as well as boreal caribou, pine marten and billions of songbirds”, says the NRDC.

It says that when boreal forests are degraded, their ability to absorb man-made greehouse gas emissions declines.

“In addition, the carbon that had been safely stored in the forests’ soil and vegetation is released into the atmosphere, dramatically undermining international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Polyculture Market Garden Study–Results From Year 4–2018

THE POLYCULTURE MARKET GARDEN STUDY – RESULTS FROM YEAR 4 – 2018

HERE ARE THE RESULTS FROM THE FOURTH YEAR OF OUR MARKET GARDEN POLYCULTURE STUDY. THIS STUDY LOOKS AT THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GROWING ANNUAL VEGETABLES AND HERBS IN POLYCULTURES VS GROWING THEM IN  TRADITIONAL BLOCKS.

In this post you will find an overview of the trial garden and the polycultures we are growing, a description of what we record and the 4th year results from the trial. You can find results from previous seasons here.

First of all we’d like to say a huge thank you to the team of volunteers that joined us for the study this year and that make it possible for us to carry out our experiments and research. It was a pleasure to work together with you. Thank you Victoria Bezhitashvili, Angela Rice, Malcolm Cannon, Elise Bijl, Alex Camilleri, Daniel Stradner, Emilce Nonquepan, Ezekiel Orba and Chris Kirby Lambert.

It was a great a mix of people from all over the world including university students, a crypto fund manager, ex-nintendo web editor and market gardeners. Thank you all for your valuable input, it was our pleasure to host you and we look forward to seeing you again some day.

The Polyculture Study 2018 Team

GARDEN OVERVIEW

Location: Bulgaria, Shipka
​Climate: Temperate
Köppen Climate Classification – Dfc borderline Cfb
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5b – 7a
Latitude: 42°
Elevation: 565 m
Average Annual Rainfall: 588.5 mm
Prevailing Wind: NW & NE
Garden Name: Aponia – Polyculture Market Garden

 

The six longer beds in the left hand corner of the photo on the right (the Aceaes) are the trial beds, the focus of this study.You can find the location of the Polyculture Market Garden on google maps here (labelled as Aponia on our Project map)

Garden area: 256.8 m2
Cultivated beds area: 165.6 m2
Paths: 50 cm wide – 91.2 m2
Bed Dimensions – 23 m x 1.2 m  Area – 27.6 m2 per bed
Number of beds: 6

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Multi-Functional Living: Wood Heat

MULTI-FUNCTIONAL LIVING: WOOD HEAT

This year Emma and I are taking something we did last year and making it more functional: We are heating with wood, full-time. Previously, we often had fires at night, giving the heating system a break and enjoying the atmosphere, but it was noncommittal. Some nights we didn’t bother. We used the wood-burning cook stove even less than that, though we did love the event it made of a meal, as well as pulling a couple of rocking chairs in front of stove while dinner was bubbling. It was all in an effort for us to learn the ropes with building, using, and maintaining fires.

Winter has hit hard and early this year, but we have yet to let the heating click on. We’ve set the thermostat at 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius), to prevent any freezing damage or some such thing should we fail to keep the fire stoked. And, in addition to new lessons in heating 100% with fire, something much more involved than nighttime romanticism, we are becoming more and more in tune to the multiple functions heating with wood has. It seems very much in keeping with our permaculture principles.

Function #1: Clean Up

We live in the forest. So do our neighbors. So do the strangers down the road. Throughout the year, a number of trees have fallen. They fall across roads. They fall into gardens. Limbs drop in yards. Leaning red oaks threaten houses. And, trees—regardless of who’s around to hear it—do fall in the woods. A number of factors go into the fact that throughout the year, lots and lots of firewood can be produced by purely cleaning things up. Here are some examples:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Tree Teachings: How Forests and Wildfires Are Critically Linked

Tree Teachings: How Forests and Wildfires Are Critically Linked

First in a series about the work of famed botanist .

I have called up Diana Beresford-Kroeger, the famed Irish botanist and bestselling author, to ask about the megafires that carpeted much of North America in dense smoke last summer.

In British Columbia alone, wildfires released between 150 and 200 megatonnes of carbon dioxide in 2017. That’s more than twice the volume created by human activities in the province.

Beresford-Kroeger, who calls herself a renegade scientist, has been studying forests all her life and is one of the world’s leading experts on the many medicinal properties of trees.

Coming from a strong Celtic tradition, the 74-year-old plain speaker delivers a good dose of traditional knowledge with her science, combining data with old-fashioned wisdom.

The global forest, which keeps the atmosphere rich in oxygen and low in carbon dioxide, “forecasts our future in every breath it takes and every seed it releases into the leaf mold of the forest floor,” she has written.

On the day when I reach her to discuss the megafires that consumed parts of California, Chile, Sweden and B.C. last summer, she says she has both good and terrifying news.

But first Beresford-Kroeger tells me she has just walked into her house just south of Ottawa from her research garden, where native and endangered trees thrive, and is covered in mud.

“You should know,” she begins with a laugh, “that you are talking to a dirty woman.”

And then she plunges into the subject of wildfires, which burned almost 3.4 million hectares of forest last year across Canada — a nearly threefold increase over 2016.

Fires foretold

The first point Beresford-Kroeger wants to make is that the fires consuming places like California and B.C.’s Interior were foretold by Indigenous people thousands of years ago.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

5 HA Polyculture Farm Design–Suhi Dol Revisited

5 HA POLYCULTURE FARM DESIGN – SUHI DOL REVISITED

Paul Alfrey from Balkan Ecology Project shares with us his observations and thoughts in regards to a visit he made to a farm he designed and how it slowly developed into a polyculture of fruit trees, aquaculture and vegetable gardens. 

Last week Dylan and I set off on a road trip to discover the flora and fauna of the North East of Bulgaria. Our first stop was to Catherine Zanev ‘s farm in Todorovo, North Bulgaria. As those of you familiar with our project may recall, this was a farm I designed in 2013. I had not visited the place for some time and was very excited to see how the plans had emerged into reality.

Catherine’s goals for the plot were to create a polyculture farm with focus on producing fruit for juicing, to include vegetable production for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) scheme and to experiment with dye plants. The design was complete by 2015 and implementation began that year.

The 5 ha polyculture plot Suhi Dol on the right, locally practiced intensive monoculture farming on the left

The design concept for Suhi Dol was to create an agroforestry system of “Belts” that are comprised of mixed species fruit trees, soft fruits and nitrogen fixing shrubs planted in “Rows” under-storied with support plants, herbs and perennial vegetables. Between the rows are the “Alleys”. The Alleys have potential to be used for growing hay, cereals, vegetables, herbs or rearing pasture raised poultry such as chickens or turkeys. Integrated throughout the belts and around the perimeter are various beneficial habitats to enhance biodiversity. The designed system is an elaboration of Alley Cropping and is based on tried and tested models of our small scale forest garden systems scaled up.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Green the Desert: Europe’s Heatwave and Some Holistic Suggestions

HOW TO GREEN THE DESERT: EUROPE’S HEATWAVE AND SOME HOLISTIC SUGGESTIONS

In the Northern Hemisphere, the balance of light is turning ever more towards darkness as we approach the Autumn Equinox. This is following a summer which in many places was unusually hot and dry(1, 2). This is perhaps not unexpected; climate change scientists have been predicting extreme temperature spikes for a number of years(3). However, it seems that a lot of farmers were nevertheless unprepared and many crops have been lost(2). Such occurrences can be seen as unfortunate; but can also serve as lessons for us. When you look at the factors exacerbating aridity, it seems clearer than ever that industrial farming is ill-equipped to deal with adaptation. This article will explore a little what happened in the heatwave, particularly in the UK and look at an example of a permaculture site which survived unharmed.

Dry continent

Throughout Europe, rainfall in the summer of 2018 was so low that many places were reported as having droughts. While some of the affected areas of the drought were wild places, such as the forest fires which swept through the coniferous forests of Norway and Sweden in June and July(4), the main losses were from the farming industry. Both Lithuania and Latvia declared national states of emergency in July(2, 5). Germany and Poland were reported as experiencing severe losses in wheat production(2), with many farmers in Germany resorting to destroying their crops since they did not have the resources to continue watering them(2). Many cattle farmers, such as in the UK, had to use their winter supply of animal food to feed their cows(6), since the grass had all withered and dried, creating a temporary solution and more problems in the months to come.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turning Trees Into Enemies. The New War on Forests

Turning Trees Into Enemies. The New War on Forests

The San Marco Square in Florence in 2017. You can see the ancient trees of the square being cut as part of a plan that involved the removal of several hundred trees in the whole city. The action was accompanied by a propaganda campaign against trees that looked curiously similar to that used to justify the invasion of Iraq, in 2003. “Trees are a threat to citizens,”, “There is no alternative,” “Killer Trees,” and the like.

The war on trees seems to be starting. I don’t know about what’s happening where you live, but here, in Italy, we see it clearly, accompanied by all the propaganda tricks normally used to start wars. So, we have seen a string of accusations in the media against “killer trees,” supposed to be a danger for the citizens because they can fall on them or on their beloved shiny cars. The image on the right, here shows the first page of an Italian newspaper in 2014 informing us there are “50,000 killer trees” in Rome. Truly an invading army to be fought with the appropriate weaponry in the form of chainsaws.

One century ago, city administrations were proud of planting trees, today they are proud of cutting them. What happened that changed their attitude so much is hard to say. Maybe it is the general degradation of the ecosystem that has turned trees into monsters, but that doesn’t explain how administrations are starting also a war on forests – surely not threatening citizens or their cars. In a previous post, I commented on a recent piece of legislation in Italy that forces land owners to cut their woods even if they don’t want to. From the comments I received to that post and from what I can read on the Web, I think I can say that the war on trees is not just an Italian phenomenon, it is worldwide.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Up in Smoke

Trees are dying at unprecedented rates. Can we rethink conservation before it’s too late?

Each year, the Earth’s trees suck more than a hundred billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That’s an impossibly huge number to consider, about 60 times the weight of all the humans currently on the planet.

Our forests perform a cornucopia of services: Serving as a stabilizing force for nearly all of terrestrial life, they foster biodiversity and even make us happier. But as climate change accelerates, drawing that carbon out of the air has become trees’ most critical role.

Absorbing CO2 is key to avoiding the worst effects of climate change when each year matters so much. Carbon “sinks,” like the wood of trees and organic matter buried in dirt, prevent the gas from returning to the atmosphere for dozens or even hundreds of years. Right now, about a third of all human carbon emissions are absorbed by trees and other land plants — the rest remains in the atmosphere or gets buried at sea. That share will need to rise toward and beyond 100 percent in order to counter all of humanity’s emissions past and present.

For trees to pull this off, though, they have to be alive, thriving, and spreading. And at the moment, the world’s forests are trending in the opposite direction.

New evidence shows that the climate is shifting so quickly, it’s putting many of the world’s trees in jeopardy. Rising temperatures and increasingly unusual rainfall patterns inflict more frequent drought, pest outbreaks, and fires. Trees are dying at the fastest rate ever seen, on the backs of extreme events like the 2015 El Niño, which sparked massive forest fires across the tropics. In 2016, the world lost a New Zealand-sized amount of trees, the most in recorded history.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Tree Crops

Chestnut bud in spring day

TREE CROPS

For thousands of years, farmers have generally differentiated forestry and agriculture. Forests were either left alone or planted and maintained as a source of fuel and building material. In the best of cases, certain trees also offered forage for livestock and other farm animals. The farm fields were generally kept clear of any trees because farming was relegated to nothing more than the planting and harvesting of annual (mostly grain) crops.

The only trees acceptable to farming were fruit bearing trees, and these were usually planted on areas of the farm where the terrain was too steep or otherwise unfit for the tillage needed for annual grain crops. With the ever more obvious problems related to the annual tillage of the soil and annual agriculture in general, many people have begun to consider the possibility of growing trees as crops.

THE BEGINNINGS OF FOREST AGRICULTURE

The idea of growing trees as crops is not a new one. Indigenous cultures around the world have been growing and managing diversified, edible forest ecosystems (food forests, in permaculture jargon) for thousands of years. From the multi-story tropical food forests of Mesoamerica to growing evidence that large swaths of the Amazon Jungle were actually human-controlled environments, indigenous peoples around the world have long understood the benefits of tree crops and perennial agriculture systems.

From the western perspective, however, it was J. Russell Smith in the 1920´s who first began considering the idea of trees as crops. Smith´s seminal work was published under the title of “Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture” in 1929. In this book, he looked at several farming cultures around the world that, instead of relying on the annual tillage of the soil for grain crops, actually depended on carefully managed forest ecosystems that provided an abundance of edible foodstuffs.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Perennial Polycultures-The Biomass Belt: Fertility Without Manure

Balkep-Feature

PERENNIAL POLYCULTURES – THE BIOMASS BELT: FERTILITY WITHOUT MANURE

We’ve been looking into fencing our plots, and how to meet fertility demands of the establishing perennial crops such as fruits, nuts, herbs and perennial vegetables without relying on animal manures and imported compost, and have come up with a polyculture that may meet both of these needs that we call the biomass belt.

WHAT IS THE BIOMASS BELT?

The biomass belt is a perennial polyculture dedicated to growing mulch and fertilizer fodder that can apply to annual and perennial crops. It’s a very simple closed system that can quickly provide a supply of nutrient dense liquid fertiliser or nutrient dense mulch material as well as valuable habitat.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The polyculture is composed of mineral accumulating comfrey in raised beds, Nitrogen fixing ground cover sown into the pathways and a Nitrogen fixing hedgerow. Local native herbaceous annuals and perennials are also encouraged to grow within the hedgerow.

Illustration by Georgi Pavlov - www.georgipavlov.net
Illustration by Georgi Pavlov – www.georgipavlov.net

The comfrey is grown in raised beds for biomass and can be cut from 4 – 7 times each year with the material being used to make liquid fertiliser or used directly as mulch. The deeply rooted comfrey mines nutrients deep in the subsoil that would otherwise wash away with the underground soil water or remain inaccessible to other plants. Some of these nutrients are relocated within the comfrey leaf biomass. As the biomass is cut and applied as the mulch or converted into liquid fertiliser, the nutrients are delivered back to the top soil and again accessible to crops and other plants.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Earth’s Second Lung Has Emphysema

Earth’s Second Lung Has Emphysema

Many consider forests as the ‘lungs’ of the planet — the idea that trees and other plants take up carbon and produce oxygen (the carbon and oxygen cycles). If we are to be fair though, the oceans store about 93% of the Earth’s carbon pool (excluding the lithosphere and fossil fuels) and oceanic phytoplankton produces between 50 and 80% of the oxygen in the atmosphere. For comparison, the terrestrial biosphere — including forests — stores only about 5% of the Earth’s carbon and produces most of the remainder of atmospheric oxygen.

So, there’s no denying that the biggest player in these cycles is the ocean, but that’s not the topic of today’s post. Instead, I’m going to focus on the terrestrial biosphere and in particular, the carbon storage and flux of forests.

Now it’s pretty well established that tropical forests are major players in the terrestrial carbon cycle, with the most accepted estimates of about 55% the terrestrial carbon stock stored therein. The extensive boreal forest, covering most of the northern half of North America, most of Scandinavia and a huge chunk of Russia, comes in globally at about 33%, and temperate forests store most of the remainder.

 

That is, until now.

A niggly issue with estimating global carbon stocks in forests is that quite a bit of it is stored underground. In tropical forests at least (not including the few peatland forests), most (> 50%) of the carbon resides in the living biomass above the soil; however, in boreal forests where peatlands are extensive, 95% of the carbon is found below ground in the peat and soils. While most of this subsurface carbon is found in the top layers of the soil and peat, if you don’t dig down deep enough, you might miss an important component of the total carbon stock.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase