Category Archives: Biodiversity

Suzanne Simard talks about “mother trees” and the plant-fungal network

Good interview with one of the major researchers in the field of plant-fungi interaction. Video by Dan McKinney via the University of British Columbia on Blip.tv.

It kind of surprises me that tree communication is still news to people — witness the breathless post in Treehugger — but I guess it takes years for radical new ideas to get out there. The bit about dying trees transferring information to living trees before they die was new to me, though. And I like Dr. Simard’s use of evocative language throughout. “Mother trees” — absolutely, why not?

February shelf fungi

For those of us in northern climes, winter can be a good time to look at moss, lichen, and the woodier shelf fungi. British blogger Lucy Corrander finds and photographs February fungi on old, felled and fallen wood of yew and sycamore. (If you know your U.K. polypores, stop by and help her out with the i.d.s.)

Lambir Hills National Park: “The near empty forest that proves conservation is failing”

Mike Shanahan (Under the Banyan) reports on the rapid decline of seed dispersing and other animals in the world’s most botanically diverse forest. (And no, it doesn’t have anything to do with that bug-bear of northern-hemisphere conservationists, overpopulation, as he details in a comment.)

The once and future forest of Sebangau National Park

Mike at Under the Banyan Tree reports on the seemingly daunting but ultimately encouraging struggle to recover a forest devastated by loggin in Borneo.

The national park managers showed us before and after photographs that revealed how they were slowly turning a wasteland into something that once more resembled a forest. Since 2005, they have planted more than a million trees on 5,000 hectares of the burnt and deforested land. In 2012, they aim to plant trees on another 2,000 hectares.

This is just a start. Because forests like that at Sebangau store vast quantities of carbon below ground in their buried peat and above ground in their trees, they can play an important role in limiting climate change.

It means that efforts to reforest Sebangau could be among the first projects in line for funding under an international scheme called REDD+ that will allow polluting companies and countries to offset their carbon emissions by paying to plant trees and protect forests.

Read the rest of the post to learn how this could help save one of our closest animal cousins from extinction.

A visit to the forests of Endor

Blogger Dave Wenning claims that the forests of Endor featured in the Star Wars films are real places you can visit. Where could this be? Click through to find out.

Too much of a good thing? The trouble with unplanned urban tree planting

The UK blog Save Our Woods features a guest post from the chair of a tenant management organization (TMO) for a housing estate in London. George Arkless finds himself in the awkward position of having to advocate for tree removal, and reflects on the consequences of poor planning for urban trees.

Poor planning, in the residents’ view, means that the problems we now face are numerous, and while anyone from the council we have invited to look at the problems have agreed with us felling trees is such a sensitive matter that no one has been willing to put it in writing.

[...]

Just as there is delight when I get out of London and see trees in their true magnificence, or seeing a tree that is alive with life, or a tree so beautiful it just takes your breath away. Why should I need to leave the neighbourhood I live in to see such beauty around me?

Read the rest.

When is a forest not a forest?

Under the Banyan: palm-oil plantationIn a recent post at Under the Banyan, Mike rails at the FAO’s definition of “forest” and the poor policy decisions that can lead to:

Scientists have tried to explain how important real forests are for limiting climate change, tackling poverty and creating green economies based on timber and other forest products.

But the fate of forests gets decided in concrete capitals where policymakers pour over green-tinged maps and financial spreadsheets that only show some of the costs and benefits of changing a real forest into anything else.

Right now, somewhere in the world, one of these policymakers is reading a technical document about forests — they are reading small black print on a dull pale page and they are probably wishing the document or the day was shorter.

It makes me wonder how many of the bureaucrats who will decide the fate of the world’s tropical forests have actually walked in one. And how the protectors of the forests can encourage more policymakers to take that journey.

Read the rest.

Sweden’s supposedly green forestry practices “unsustainable”

Freelance photojournalist Erik Hoffner reports:

Sweden has a reputation as being one of the world’s most environmentally progressive nations. But its surprisingly lax forestry laws often leave decisions about logging to the timber companies — and as a result, large swaths of biologically-rich boreal forest are being lost.

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