The future of forests

Harpo

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Today's news of a Northern Forest which will stretch across the north of England has got me wondering how many similar projects there are in the world.

Deforestation has always been a part of mankind's progress, of course, but nowadays there seems to be a growing awareness that we (humans and other species) will always need forests. Planting new forests isn't as good as preserving the old ones, of course, but most of the old ones have been gone for centuries now.

What is the future of forests?

Plan to grow new Northern Forest
 

Joe Loomis

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The life cycle of a forest is fascinating to read about.

I'm sure in European countries with all the history most old growth forests are gone. In certain areas of the USA there still are old growth and it can be amazing to see.

I hope that some day soon we (humanity) will find an equilibrium with nature.
 

BAYLOR

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The life cycle of a forest is fascinating to read about.

I'm sure in European countries with all the history most old growth forests are gone. In certain areas of the USA there still are old growth and it can be amazing to see.

I hope that some day soon we (humanity) will find an equilibrium with nature.
The way things are going now, that seems unlikely.
 

LordOfWizards

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As long as we don't start taking down the Boreal/Taiga forest bands ("Taiga is the world's largest land biome, making up 29% of the world's forest cover. The largest areas are located in Russia and Canada."), anything we add at more southern latitudes won't hurt, but like many areas in science, getting your mind around the sheer size of these forests is not easy. From the first link: "Known in Russia as the Taiga, the boreal forest constitutes one of the largest biomes in the world, covering some 12 million square kilometres."
BOREALFOREST.ORG - Boreal Forests of the World - Introduction

From this article: "11. To date, only 12% of boreal forest is protected around the globe -- and over 30% has already been designated for logging, energy and other development"
30 fascinating facts about the boreal forest

From this link: The taiga stores enormous quantities of carbon, more than the world's temperate and tropical forests combined, much of it in wetlands and peatland. In fact, current estimates place boreal forests as storing twice as much carbon per unit area as tropical forests.
Taiga - Wikipedia

Here is a group that is attempting to re-grow on a major scale: Our Approach | WeForest
 
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-K2-

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For the record, a Russian scientist among others is working on bumping up numbers of certain large herbivores (like Bison and so on), even up to trying to merge Mammoth DNA with Elephant DNA to produce Mammoth clones.

The reason being, they have determined that 'forestation' due to lack of large herbivores, is causing areas of permafrost to thaw. That naturally results in massive methane/CO2 releases, making greenhouse emissions by man virtually inconsequential in comparison. The plan being that these large animals will keep forests down in those areas, keeping them tundra/field environments which freeze deeper than forested areas.

There is a VICE News video regarding that research if interested.

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Robert Zwilling

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A forested area without a diverse animal population living a robust life inside that forest is a dysfunctional forest and can not provide all the benefits true forests are able to deliver. There is the nagging question of where is the oxygen going. It has been on a downward course, not dramatic, but measurable. When I was in grade school we were told the exact percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere. What happens today? Are the students told that the oxygen percentage is slowly decreasing and today's number is only temporary. After ice ages went through and killed all the ground worms, the new forests that never had ground worms in them apparently don't take too kindly to worms being re-introduced into their environment. When I was growing up worms were always pictured as one of man's best friends. Without all kinds of wild animals to keep the worm populations in check, the worms can eat up the forest floor debris before it rots away into good soil. That changes the soil chemistry which changes the soil microbial populations which changes the rot cycle. Like the nail falling out of the horseshoe, the diversity of growth is directly impacted. My part of the US has more trees than it did 200 years ago when the land was all cleared for farming and development. There are real forested areas and then there are huge amounts of smaller but measurable areas of trees that are what I call dysfunctional forests. They have big insect, rodent and deer populations. That's the trifecta for unlimited tick production. I have been trying to find on the internet base numbers for trees. The numbers I have seen are not pretty. Still trying to verify them. Supposedly there are 3 trillion trees now. There once was 6 trillion trees. 5 billion new trees are started each year. 10 billion trees disappear from the landscape by natural and unnatural means every year. Perhaps sustainable forestry only works when we plant the trees and walk away forever.
 

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Well, it's an incredibly complex situation that would take thousands of years to ever return to what once was. There are areas in the Midwest that at one time were covered with old-growth forests. Now, they're covered with these pseudo little scrub trees that are going nowhere and never will... BUT, they keep those old growth types of forests from ever growing.

More so, they alter the conditions of the soil, weather patterns, water retention, new deciduous annual buildup critical to countless organisms which all in turn affect the ecosystem. The biggest problem is, most people don't have vision past their lifetimes. In fact, I'd venture that many don't even consider their children's or grandchildren's until it is too late for them to actually contribute a significant degree to change.

If you want some real idea of the differences in landscape, don't look at one of the few old-growth forests, they're deceptive as to how it was say 200 years prior. Look at old logging photos. Even in the Midwest which makes logging in the Northwest seem pale, the differences in trees are staggering... and those photos are from WELL after, a century perhaps, after the biggest and best timber was long gone.

As an example, it's easy to guess where this tree is from:



Nope, that's Michigan, and well after the big ones were gone.

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Harpo

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Here's a world map showing all the forest cover

image.jpeg
 

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Here's a world map showing all the forest cover
Having been in a number of those 'forests,' they're nothing like they once were (see my post above). In northern regions, however, returning forestation (typically low scrub) is actually putting us at greater risk of climate change due to permafrost loss resulting in methane expulsion. I could try to explain it, but, this does a better job:


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Robert Zwilling

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The idea of letting natural animals repopulate and maintain the plant growth over the permafrost is an interesting idea. One good reason to bring back the mammoth, but I wonder if there wasn't other plant growth besides grasses around at the same time that would also comeback. Supposedly there were immense quantities of flowers along with the grass to balance out the grazing diet. The grass mat keeps the permafrost cooler, that would extend it's lifetime, but it's only working on the surface. You can't plan trees as they will only fall over until the ground stabilizes.

Looking at the huge permafrost deposits, some up to a mile deep, I'm thinking those are underground foamy glaciers, half dirt half ice. Never looked at permafrost as glaciers but too many similarities. The above land glaciers are melting from the bottom up as well as from the top down. Rivers from ice melt running through and below the bases of above ground glaciers do a lot of destruction to the physical integrity of the glacier. I think sometimes the melting of glaciers is looked at as if it was a linear event where the glacier stays rock solid until the last bit of ice melts. I would guess the physical integrity of the solid ice structure decomposes to a point where it speeds up the destruction of the solid glacier. Water running through the permafrost would destroy the permafrost the same way, no matter how much sunlight was reflected off of it.

None of the efforts to reduce warming seem to be taking into account momentum, except when an article starts out with the words something is happening faster than expected, and only then it is only acknowledged that something is happening faster than was expected by someone. Until the momentum is appreciably diminished, the effort needed to change something is going to be more that what it appears would be needed. In simpler words, the Polar regions have already melted, they just haven't finished melting yet. All that land taken up by permafrost can't be used until the ice melts and it's ground level is half of what the depth of the permafrost was, from like 50 feet to 2500 feet.
 

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.......You can't plan trees as they will only fall over until the ground stabilizes...
......All that land taken up by permafrost can't be used until the ice melts and it's ground level is half of what the depth of the permafrost was, from like 50 feet to 2500 feet.
Well, the point is that trees are growing and they actually need to 'eliminate' them in permafrost areas. They never used to grow there due to the climate and also the animals killing them and shrubs off. The darker plant growth of those sorts of plants helps warm the ground. That melts the permafrost, then the methane is released.

Past that, the land isn't needed (by man). It is needed by earth however to help stabilize the climate. Consider this image (I've been using a lot of this for what I'm writing, so I'm just now learning, not an expert).

51529


This is how the air circulates around the globe in distinct bands. Those bands will shift slightly and expand with the seasons. You'll also notice that they lie along the various zones (tropical, sub-tropical, temperate and frigid zones). As the atmosphere is affected by climate change they have noticed an alarming trend. Bands of clouds are beginning to shift north and south out of the various zones, becoming more frequent and dense in those closer to the poles.

Cloud cover holds in heat, that warms the temperate farther north and frigid areas. In a sense, the Hadley Cells are growing, and the mid-latitude cells and polar cells are shrinking but becoming more dense with cloud cover. Naturally, that also affects ocean currents, etc., etc., and we start getting an unstoppable chain reaction. Permafrost melts, more carbon. Plants become stressed, so they stop taking in CO2 and instead expel it. The northern seas which work like a big radiator cooling off the planet, shift their currents, in cold areas due to the cell changes and cloud cover because they're darker absorb even more heat then on land.

Plants (like trees) grow where they didn't because of the above making previously light colored grasslands darker, absorbing even more heat... melting more permafrost... changing the latitude of the cells more... melting more snow and ice... now dark water heats more... and you can see how it begins perpetuating its own self destructive cycle.

So the idea to stave off this rapid change is to essentially rein back in the permafrost and snow/ice melt on land and sea, then hopefully it gives us more time, or in the best case, once stabilized it begins to rebuild.

Land we got... ;)

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Robert Zwilling

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Since we are delaying doing anything relevant anything that delays the current changes is a good thing.

I think the ice in the polar regions has an impact on the global wind patterns. If the polar regions continue to lose ice, we might have to get new global wind charts.

Here is an article about making massive sustainable forests to supply wood to make what is called Mass Timber. The advantage of mass timber is that it uses smaller pieces of wood to make much bigger laminated wood products for building tall buildings, as high as 20 stories. Apparently the creation and use of steel products and concrete products produces a lot of carbon dioxide. By substituting large laminated wood products in place of steel and concrete, a lot less carbon dioxide will be released by the construction industry. Since smaller trees can be used the turn over time would be greatly reduced for raw wood materials.

The idea will only work if the grown forests are massive with huge key parts off limits to any logging. There trees could grow as big as possible sustaining biodiversity. Forested regions would have to get bigger so the natural untouched tree growth areas could be interspaced with areas where the trees could be grown like cornfields. At the same time, research would have to be done to create a weed that could grow alongside these quick harvest trees which could supply additional cellulose for making the laminated wood products. With some genengineering a weed could be made that would endlessly grow thick stalks that would supply enough cellulose to keep the tree wood laminating factories running on a daily basis.
 
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