The forest for the trees

By Brandon Barrett
Herb Hammond doesn’t quite fit the picture you probably have in mind of the typical forester.

A Dalai-Lama-quoting policy wonk, author and ecologist with 40 years experience in the industry, Hammond belies the clichéd image of forester as grizzled lumberman decked out in plaid.

But Hammond also defies the usual notion of forester in another significant way: He fervently believes B.C.’s forest management framework needs a complete overhaul—and urgently.

“Forestry causes the largest losses of biological diversity across this province, indeed virtually everywhere that it’s practised. It’s the primary cause of water degradation. It’s a major contributor to floods and droughts, and believe it or not, in B.C., it’s less than two-and-a-half per cent of the gross domestic product. That shows you the power of assumptions of convenience about what’s driving our economy. Certainly it’s not forestry,” he said. “Either we’re going to change this or we’re going to continue to down a path where Earth will change us.”

Hammond was the keynote speaker at an in-depth forestry webinar co-hosted last month by the Whistler Naturalists and the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment, where he picked apart B.C.’s current forestry system, and laid out his vision for a new way of managing the province’s most vital asset that puts ecological integrity over industry profitability.

One of the most common notions put forth by the timber lobby is that old-growth forest, typically defined in B.C. as trees over the age of 250 on the coast, and 140 in the Interior, as a renewable resource. Not so, says local forest ecologist and Whistler Naturalists co-founder Bob Brett.

“Logging removes old forest from the landscape, and I think for all intents and purposes, we can say forever,” he relayed. “If you take out a forest that’s 300, 500, over 1,000 years old and then plant it like it has been planted at the higher elevations up in the Soo Valley, it will never in reasonable terms recover to being the old-growth forest it used to be. It’s going to be simpler, it’s going to have fewer species that require this old-forest habitat, and it will have fewer underground fungal connections. There are many reasons why it will never be the same forest again.”

While he acknowledges the legislation is by no means perfect. Hammond pointed to several landmark acts adopted south of the border as a potential example for B.C. to follow if we want to transform how forests are managed here.

In short, legislation like the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the National and Environmental Policy Act, which mandates ecological assessments “right down to individual cut blocks,” Hammond said, and the National Forest Management Act, which sets out clear standards for timber harvesting, as essential tools for the American public to keep industry accountable.

“I don’t think for a minute that forestry is perfect in the U.S.; trust me. But this provides a framework for accountability and communication,” he said.“We need to change the tenure system. What’s the rational for that? That public land was given to corporations because it was viewed by the government of the day to provide social benefits, and it was given and done quickly,” Hammond stressed. “We need to now quickly take back that public forest based on ecological and social needs.

“We better deploy our parachute or we’re not going to like how we land. As people, we need to reassume responsibility for the forest around us in socially and culturally responsible ways, based on ecosystem protection.”

Source: The forest for the trees – Pique Newsmagazine, 2021-04-15

Amid climate crisis, a proposal to save Washington state forests for carbon storage, not logging

by Lynda V. Mapes
CAPITOL STATE FOREST, Thurston County — Older than Washington state, the biggest Douglas firs on this patch of state forestland have stood through more than a century of logging.

Part of a 180-acre timber sale auctioned off for $4.2 million last November by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), their next stop was a plywood mill. Then, something unusual happened.

Hilary Franz, state commissioner of public lands, pulled back nearly 40 acres with most of the biggest, oldest trees from the sale.

Now, this timber sale named Smuggler (sales are often whimsically named by state foresters) also is swinging open a door to a broader conversation in Washington, home to the second largest lumber producer in the nation, to rethink the value of trees on state lands not as logs, but as trees to help address the twin crises of species extinction and climate warming.

Franz is kicking off an examination over the next three to four months of all older forests on DNR lands west of the Cascades not already in conservation status — about 10,000 acres.

But that is nothing compared to positions staked out by two of her predecessors: Jennifer Belcher, commissioner from 1993-2001, and Peter Goldmark, commissioner from 2009-2017. They have launched a proposal to gradually stop all commercial harvest of state forests west of the Cascades, for what they see as a higher purpose: combating the climate crisis.

Nothing we currently know of works better than allowing trees to suck carbon from the atmosphere when they are living, and store it in their branches, roots and the forest soil for centuries after their death. Trees — especially mature forests — are the cheapest, fastest, most reliable form of carbon storage.

So-called proforestation is the leading edge of new science that finds intentionally leaving forests to grow bigger helps blunt the worst effects of the climate catastrophe. Of course, fossil fuel emissions must also be drastically reduced.

Franz said she opposes her predecessors’ proposal. She is concerned about preserving local timber supplies, mills, jobs and payments made from timber revenue to state trust beneficiaries for school construction and local government needs. State trust lands contributed more than $155 million in net revenue to those beneficiaries in 2018, most of it from timber harvests.

But she does want to take a new look at older trees. Not the old growth the state already protects, sprouted before 1850, among other characteristics. The older trees that are the giants of tomorrow.

Franz sees an opportunity to take a broader, more holistic view and create meaningful change that extends beyond the Capitol State Forest, she said in an interview.

Source: Amid climate crisis, a proposal to save Washington state forests for carbon storage, not logging – The Seattle Times, 2021-03-21

Charleston area lost more than 10,000 acres of tree cover since 1992, making floods worse

By Tony Barteleme
Turbocharged by a warming climate, rain bombs and rising seas swamped the South Carolina Lowcountry this year, sending murky floodwaters into streets, businesses and homes.

At the same time, developers continue to transform forests and wetlands into even more homes and shopping centers — destroying acres and acres of spongy land that could help sop up these rising waters.

A new analysis requested by The Post and Courier for the Rising Waters project shows how the Charleston area’s unprecedented building boom made us more vulnerable amid the accelerating forces of climate change.

Researchers at the College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Hazards Center used advanced satellite and aerial imagery to measure changes in the area’s tree canopy — a key measure of the land’s ability to naturally manage flooding rains.

What emerged is among the most nuanced looks yet at how our land has changed in recent decades, a powerful new tool for residents and planners alike.

Source: Charleston area lost more than 10,000 acres of tree cover since 1992, making floods worse – postandcourier.com, 20-12-12

Plans for huge Northern Forest could see 50 million trees planted

By Alice Richardson
Plans to plant 50 million trees to create a huge Northern Forest, spanning from Manchester to Hull, are well underway.

Northern leaders, including MPs and both Metro Mayors, want the Prime Minister to get behind the project that has already seen 600,000 trees planted.

The Northern Forest is set to span 120 miles and connect Liverpool, Manchester and Lancaster to the West with Sheffield, Leeds and Hull to the East.

With the backing of 120 Northern leaders, including Andy Burnham and Steve Rotherham, the Woodland Trust will plant the rest of the trees over the next 25 years.

Now, those leaders have written to Boris Johnson, inviting him to come to the North, give his full support to the project and plant a tree or two himself.

The forest would benefit 13 million residents and could potentially generate £2.5 billion for the regional economy.

Sir Graham Brady, MP for Altrincham and Sale West, said: “I’m proud to be associated with this exciting project: The Northern Forest is an initiative of international significance.

“We will see millions of new trees planted, bringing economic and environmental benefits for our region. I am delighted at the ambition of these plans.”

Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston, said, “We all have a part to play to tackle the Climate Emergency and commit to reforestation on a massive scale as part of the solution.

“Planting a tree is a small step which can benefit our community, while the Northern Forest would benefit our whole region. I will continue to do all I can to call on the government to save our planet form the climate crisis.”

Darren Moorcroft, chief executive officer of the Woodland Trust, added: “The Northern Forest represents the green lungs of the Northern Powerhouse. This pioneering project will deliver millions of new trees planted, and billions of pounds worth of economic, social and environmental benefits to the region.

“If we are to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises the world faces, internationally significant projects like the Northern Forest must be at the forefront of bold, ambitious domestic thinking.”

Currently, only 7.6 per cent of the North of England is covered by woodland, considerably lower than the national average of 10 per cent.

Source: Plans for huge Northern Forest could see 50 million trees planted – Manchester Evening News, 2019-10-10

Study suggests green infrastructure may solve city problems

One way to improve Jacksonville’s problems with stormwater flooding, crime, air pollution, job creation and mental health is simple – plant more trees, said Karen Firehock. As executive director of Green Infrastructure Center, a nonprofit based in Charlottesville, Virginia, Firehock and her team have been conducting a federally-funded independent review of Jacksonville’s urban canopy and its effect on stormwater and water quality.

During the second of three public meetings, which was sponsored by the San Marco Preservation Society and held in Preservation Hall February 28, Firehock explained how her organization is helping the City of Jacksonville map, evaluate and restore its urban forest while focusing on stormwater management. Jacksonville is one of 12 southern cities to be part of the study, which is funded by the United States Forest Service.

Study suggests green infrastructure may solve city problems
POSTED ON APRIL 1, 2019BY EDITORARTICLES, BROOKLYN, DOWNTOWN, SPRINGFIELD, NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS, RIVERSIDE, AVONDALE, ORTEGA, MURRAY HILL, SAN JOSE, SAN MARCO, ST. NICHOLAS, TOP STORIES

Study suggests green infrastructure may solve city problems
One way to improve Jacksonville’s problems with stormwater flooding, crime, air pollution, job creation and mental health is simple – plant more trees, said Karen Firehock.

As executive director of Green Infrastructure Center, a nonprofit based in Charlottesville, Virginia, Firehock and her team have been conducting a federally-funded independent review of Jacksonville’s urban canopy and its effect on stormwater and water quality.

LeAnna Cumber, District 5 City Councilwoman-elect with Karen Firehock of the Green Infrastructure Center
During the second of three public meetings, which was sponsored by the San Marco Preservation Society and held in Preservation Hall February 28, Firehock explained how her organization is helping the City of Jacksonville map, evaluate and restore its urban forest while focusing on stormwater management. Jacksonville is one of 12 southern cities to be part of the study, which is funded by the United States Forest Service.

During the meeting, which was sparsely attended, Firehock discussed specific ways the City can beef up its green infrastructure. At the end of the study, the nonprofit will provide the City with an online casebook, which Jacksonville residents can access with its recommendations and findings. The Green Infrastructure Center held its third and final meeting March 28 in Springfield.

“We want cities to understand that trees, wetlands, streams, and rivers are part of the cities’ infrastructure, and we need to manage them just like we manage our built assets,” she said, noting that “gray” infrastructure is comprised of sidewalks, roadways, pipes, and buildings. Jacksonville Urban Forester Richard Leon agreed. “We are looking at how urban trees affect our city’s water quality, and how we can incorporate trees, so they are looked at as infrastructure and not just as a commodity,” he said before the meeting.

Forty-two percent of Duval County is covered with trees, although they are not evenly distributed. Having a healthy urban tree canopy is very beneficial. Not only do trees soak up stormwater – a single tree, depending on species and size, can soak up between 760 and 4,000 gallons of water per year – they provide “access to fitness,” clean the air, improve mental health, reduce crime, lower residential vacancy rates, encourage people to shop more, and attract small companies to cities,” Firehock said.

“Trees pick up particulate matter and clean the air. If you have a well-treed neighborhood, you are going to have better air quality than one that doesn’t have many trees. Trees improve mental health. We heal better when we see green. Less crime occurs in neighborhoods with lots of trees. Statistically, it is proven the more treed the area, the lower the crime rate,” she said, also adding that people shop longer and pay more per item with they visit tree-lined shopping districts. “It makes sense to spend money on trees and plant them right. You’ll get it back in property taxes and sales taxes. The trees will pay the city back.”

Source: Study suggests green infrastructure may solve city problems – The Resident Community News Group, Inc., 2019-04-01

Carbon Offsets for Urban Trees Are on the Horizon

By Maria Dolan
Austin, Texas, and King County, Washington, are testing carbon credits for planting and protecting urban trees.

The evidence is in: Urban trees improve air and water quality, reduce energy costs, and improve human health, even as they offer the benefit of storing carbon. And in cities across the country, they are disappearing.

A recent paper by two U.S. Forest Service scientists reported that metropolitan areas in the U.S. are losing about 36 million trees each year. The paper, by David Nowak and Eric Greenfield, was an expansion of the same researchers’ 2012 study that found significant tree loss in 17 out of the 20 U.S. cities studied.

This arboreal decline is happening even in some areas that promote “million-tree” campaigns, Arbor Day plantings, and street-tree giveaways. Cash-strapped municipalities just can’t find enough green to maintain the green. Additionally, many cities are adjusting to population booms, and to temperature increases and drought due to climate change—both conditions that can be hard on trees (while increasing their value as sources of cooling and cleaner air). There’s also a growing recognition of the inequity of tree-canopy distribution in many cities, with lush cover in wealthy neighborhoods and far fewer trees in disadvantaged areas.

To find more funding for urban trees, some local governments, including Austin, Texas and King County, Washington (where Seattle is located), are running pilot projects with a Seattle-based nonprofit called City Forest Credits (CFC). The nonprofit is developing a new approach: generating funding for city tree canopies from private companies (and individuals) that wish to offset their carbon emissions by buying credits for tree planting or preservation.

The vast majority of forest carbon credits worldwide have been issued for trees in tropical rainforests and other forests far from urban areas. A study released last year of the forest offsets in California’s cap-and-trade program found that they are effective at reducing emissions.

Source: Carbon Offsets for Urban Trees Are on the Horizon – Citylab, 2018-08-28

The power of the urban tree

By Theodore Endreny
Megacities are on the rise. There are currently 47 such areas around the globe, each housing more than 10 million residents.
More than half the global population now lives in urban areas, comprising about 3 percent of the Earth. The ecological footprint of this growth is vast and there’s far more that can be done to improve life for urban residents around the world.

When it comes to natural spaces, trees are keystone species in the urban ecosystem, providing a number of services that benefit people. My research team has calculated just how much a tree matters for many urban areas, particularly megacities. Trees clean the air and water, reduce stormwater floods, improve building energy use and mitigate climate change, among other things.

For every dollar invested in planting, cities see an average of US$2.25 return on their investment each year.

Source: The power of the urban tree – Nursery Management, 2018-08-09

Forests are moving away from Americans

By Darryl Fears
Over several decades in the past century, city populations swelled as Americans moved away from rural forests. Now the forests are moving farther away from Americans.

A new study of satellite images taken over 10 years starting in 1990 shows the rural forest canopy disappearing. Forest space disappeared from the United States in such big chunks that the average distance from any point in the nation to a forest increased by 14 percent, about a third of a mile.

While that’s no big deal to a human driving a car with a pine-scented tree dangling from the rearview mirror, it is to a bird hoping to rest or find food on epic seasonal flights across the globe, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.

But forests aren’t just for the birds. They improve the quality of life for fauna and flora, from bears to flowers. Altering forests can change the dynamics of ecosystems and can potentially “affect water chemistry, soil erosion, carbon sequestration patterns, local climate, biodiversity distribution and human quality of life,” a statement announcing the report said.

Source: Americans once moved away from forests. Now forests are moving away from Americans. – The Washington Post, 2017-02-22

FAO and Partners Launch Sourcebook on National Socioeconomic Forestry Surveys

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Forestry Department and its partners published ‘National Socioeconomic Surveys in Forestry: Guidance and Survey Modules for Measuring the Multiple Roles of Forests in Household Welfare and Livelihoods’. The Sourcebook aims to fill the data gap on the contributions that forests and wild products make to livelihoods and well-being. The modules and guidance presented aim to build the capacity of national statistical offices to integrate forest values into national household surveys, in particular surveys based on the World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS).

Source: FAO and Partners Launch Sourcebook on National Socioeconomic Forestry Surveys | SDG Knowledge Hub | IISD

Growth of city trees can cut air pollution, says report

Planting trees is a cost-effective way to tackle urban air pollution, which is a growing problem for many cities.
A study by US-based The Nature Conservancy (TNC) reported than the average reduction of particulate matter near a tree was between 7% and 24%.
Particulate matter (PM) is microscopic particles that become trapped in the lungs of people breathing polluted air.
PM pollution could claim an estimated 6.2 million lives each year by 2050, the study suggests.
Lead author Rob McDonald said that city trees were already providing a lot of benefits to people living in urban areas.

Source: Growth of city trees can cut air pollution, says report – BBC News