Photo credit: B. Bartel/USFWS
We know that most of our readers on this platform, and most guests we serve at the various properties we have developed and managed over the years, care deeply about primary forests and the ecosystems they support. Here is a chance to vocalize together with one of the influential organizers of vocalization:
They’re about to start their chainsaws. Timber companies are trying to clearcut one of the most primeval wild places — and this is our last chance to stop them.
Alaska’s Tongass National Forest is nothing short of magical: it contains centuries-old trees and one-of-a-kind wilderness, home to animals like Alexander Archipelago wolves and bald eagles. Your voice is needed to pressure Congress to bring an end to old growth logging and save the Tongass for our children and grandchildren.
Take action today to save the Tongass National Forest.
Thanks to the Science section of the New York Times, for the description of the research as well as for the name of the measurement:
Reishi mushrooms (left) and Trametes versicolor collected in a folded map. ZACK DEZON
Thanks to Wired author Charley Locke for his story MEET THE OBSESSIVE MUSHROOM HUNTERS OF NEW YORK CITY:
ON A PARTICULARLY gorgeous Sunday in October, 30 explorers with the New York Mycological Society met at a cemetery in Brooklyn to hunt for mushrooms.
Reishi mushrooms on a stump. ZACK DEZON
They rummaged through leaves, carefully inspected the headstones, and gingerly reached into tree trunks, hoping to find something amazing. A turkey tail, perhaps, or hen-of-the-wood. “It was like a scavenger hunt,” says Zack DeZon, a photographer who joined them on the search. “It struck me as the analog equivalent of Pokemon Go.”
DeZon is not particularly enamored with fungus, but a mushroom-obsessed friend’s Instagram feed piqued his interest. The fellow pointed him toward the Mycological Society which has since 1962 catered to those with an interest in mycology and mycophagy. The society, created by the composer John Cage, has 430 members and meets throughout the year to find mushrooms, eat mushrooms, and discuss mushrooms.
Young orphaned orangutans on a climbing expedition with their keeper at International Animal Rescue’s orangutan school in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Credit Kemal Jufri for The New York Times
We first started paying close attention to the plight of the ecosystem in the image above when we saw the talk given by Willie Smits, who has taken action, to say the least, in the interest of protecting that rainforest and its inhabitants. It is not because of the orangutans (though see the photo below and try to resist reading on) that we find this article compelling; it is because there is a clear and compelling call to action on holding our institutions accountable:
In early 2015, scientists monitoring satellite images at Global Forest Watch raised the alarm about the destruction of rain forests in Indonesia.
Environmental groups raced to the scene in West Kalimantan province, on the island of Borneo, to find a charred wasteland: smoldering fires, orangutans driven from their nests, and signs of an extensive release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Continue reading
Thanks to Discover magazine for this (subscription required):
In Mexico, conservationists hope sustainable logging can provide jobs, protect the habitat and keep carbon from the atmosphere. Continue reading
Under current legislation, European bioenergy plants do not have to produce evidence that their wood products have been sustainably sourced. Photograph: Wolf Forest Protection Movement
Thanks to the Guardian for this coverage of disturbing news from Europe:
A family from Spain shared with me some photos they took during their first four days in Belize, spent at Chan Chich Lodge. I asked what was their favorite “thing” about Chan Chich and I appreciated the simplicity of their reply: they most enjoyed the simple fact of being in nature. Waking up to the spectacular racket of monkeys claiming territory in the nearby trees Continue reading
Thank you Maine and thank you federal government of the USA:
On an early fall day, with just a hint of red tinting the maples, the view from the summit of Deasey Mountain is spectacular.
To the west stand the rugged, treeless basins and knife-edge spine of Mount Katahdin. Off to the south, you see Wassataquoik Valley in the near distance, the peaks of the 100 Mile Wilderness beyond. To the east and north, more wild Maine woods and hills rolling for miles, to the Canadian border. Continue reading
Thanks to National Public Radio (USA):
It’s been a brutal forest fire season in California. But there’s actually a greater threat to California’s trees — the state’s record-setting drought. The lack of water has killed at least 60 million trees in the past four years.
Scientists are struggling to understand which trees are most vulnerable to drought and how to keep the survivors alive. To that end, they’re sending human climbers and flying drones into the treetops, in a novel biological experiment. Continue reading
On my Saturday afternoon I followed up a morning of farm visits with a visit to the local agricultural research extension of the state university. More on that tomorrow. For now, I want to share some images from my Sunday exploration about an hour from the farms described, due inland and into the Western Ghats. Specifically, Amboli Reserve, which is in the view above.
SPENCER FINCH LOST MAN CREEK
October 1, 2016 – March 11, 2018
SPENCER FINCH TO CREATE A MINIATURE REDWOOD FOREST IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN
See the website of the exhibit at Public Art Fund for this description and more:
Lost Man Creek is a miniature forest. But rather than growing naturally and of its own accord, this undulating landscape populated by some 4,000 Dawn Redwoods is a recreation. Artist Spencer Finch partnered with the Save the Redwoods League to identify a 790-acre section of the protected Redwood National Park in California. Significantly scaling down the topography and tree canopy heights, he reimagined this corner of the California forest for MetroTech at a 1:100 scale. While the original trees range from 98 to 380 feet – taller than the buildings that surround the plaza – the trees in the installation are just one to four feet in height. Continue reading
Eve Lonnquist examining trees on her property with Logan Sander, a consulting forester. Credit Leah Nash for The New York Times
An excellent article, whose title says it all, in the Science section of the New York Times this week:
BIRKENFELD, Ore. — Eve Lonnquist’s family has owned a forest in the mountains of northwest Oregon since her grandmother bought the land in 1919. Her 95-year-old father still lives on the 157-acre property. And she and her wife often drive up from their home just outside Portland.
But lately, Ms. Lonnquist, 59 and recently retired, has been thinking about the future of her family’s land. Like many small-forest owners, they draw some income from logging and would like to keep doing so. But they would also like to see the forest, with its stands of Douglas fir, alder and cherry, protected from clear-cutting or being sold off to developers. Continue reading
The Allegheny National Forest is absent from Google Maps (right) but displayed on Apple Maps (left). Apple & Google/Screenshots by NPR
We lose more than enough green in the real world, so when the cartographical world starts compounding the problem, we must shout in protest:
If you looked at Google Maps this week, you might have noticed something strange: less green. Continue reading
Richard Fortey and Derek Niemann among the beeches in Grim’s Dyke Wood. Photograph: Sarah Niemann
We do not favor private sector conservation efforts over all other options; we favor them over the option of no conservation at all. Governments around the world have rightly done the heaviest lifting on preserving nature, considering their resources, eminent domain, and other factors including the most salient; public lands effectively belong to an entire nation’s citizens. Philanthropies have also done enormous good. We have written plenty on both public and philanthropic conservation schemes. Today, a more modest story, but no less lovely:
A recent scientific publication in Nature Communications enlightens us to the possibility that human settlement does not always equate to land degradation, and in some cases, improves the local ecology. Here’s the results of the study as shared in Conservation Magazine:
Researchers studied temperate rainforest on Calvert and Hecate islands, off the central coast of British Columbia, Canada. This forest is very wet, receiving an average of 4 meters of rainfall a year, and has acidic, nutrient-poor soils. The dominant tree species is western redcedar (Thuja plicata).
The coastline is also dotted with semi-permanent settlements where First Nations groups, as indigenous people are known in Canada, lived seasonally or year-round. Especially over the past 6,000 years, people intensively harvested shellfish from intertidal areas and built up large shell middens—some up to 5 meters deep—near their settlements.
Thanks to the Guardian for occasional environmental rags to riches stories:
Forests and fungi–words that make me think of Milo circa 2010-2012 in the south of India, especially in the Periyar Tiger Reserve (but also later, writing about fungi in relation to food waste). When I first heard this a week ago, it seemed typical of Radiolab’s attention to quirky outlier science stories:
Saturday, July 30, 2016
A forest can feel like a place of great stillness and quiet. But if you dig a little deeper, there’s a hidden world beneath your feet as busy and complicated as a city at rush hour.
In this story, a dog introduces us to a strange creature that burrows beneath forests, building an underground network where deals are made and lives are saved (and lost) in a complex web of friendships, rivalries, and business relations. It’s a network that scientists are only just beginning to untangle and map, and it’s not only turning our understanding of forests upside down, it’s leading some researchers to rethink what it means to be intelligent.
And it was typical, in that sense. But Milo’s attention to the underworld of fungi, which at the time seemed to me as quirky as this Radiolab story does today, got me to start paying attention to anything in our news network with certain keywords (mushroom, fungi, etc.) and just now I came across a short journalistic account that taps into the same science as the Radiolab piece above, and I am realizing it may not be merely quirky: Continue reading
Ginseng with berries. Photo by US FWS via Wikimedia Commons
We first heard of ginseng in the New Yorker, where Burkhard Bilger wrote an article titled “Wild Sang” that explored the history of ginseng hunting and the very modern efforts to protect remaining plants from poaching in the Smoky Mountains. This week in Cool Green Science, the nature writer and conservationist Hal Herring reflects about his own personal experiences hunting ginseng in Alabama, and thinks about the future of the root:
I grew up in the flat-topped foothills of the Cumberland Mountains in north Alabama, and my mother was a student of wild herbs, wildflowers, and native medicinal plants. On my desk right now is a book called Tales of the Ginseng that my parents gave me for my twelfth birthday in 1976. It is a book of collected lore, of Manchurian folktales, of kings who become ginseng roots, of ginseng plants that withdraw, just ahead of the digger, to lure them into a deep-earth spirit-world from which they never return.
An armed officer inspects a seizure of thousands of illegal mahogany logs in Brazil. Photograph: Dado Galdieri/AP
Thanks to the Guardian for this reminder that we consumers need to do our caveat emptor duties when buying wood products:
Deforestation is rife in the Amazon, Colombia and the Philippines, say environmental groups
British shoppers could be unknowingly buying wooden furniture, flooring and even food items that are byproducts of destructive illegal logging in the Amazon, environmental campaigners are warning.
Friends of the Earth is calling on ministers to make companies reveal the source of their products in order to stop the black market trade. Last week human rights watchdog Global Witness revealed that 185 environmental activists were killed in 2015, many of whom had been trying to stop illegal logging in the Amazon. An estimated 80% of Brazilian hardwood is illegally logged.
Library of Congress
We posted about John Muir’s writings in the Atlantic four years ago, once we realized they were so accessible in that magazine’s archives. In that post, two years into our foray in India, we simply wanted to share our amazement that Muir had written about India as an example relevant to the case for protecting the forests of North America. We have also posted about Muir indirectly, including a lovely photo-documented post about his visit with Teddy Roosevelt to several wilderness areas that would become iconic national parks.
As we prepare for the expansion of our activities in India, and in advance of our announcement of two exciting new conservation initiatives in Mesoamerica that we will embark upon next month, I have been going back through our archives, enjoying some examples of the historical perspective this platform has allowed us to share.
Today, in the spirit of the centenary of the National Parks Service, and considering this past weekend’s visit to Yosemite by the President of the USA, it makes sense to share another of Muir’s several contributions to The Atlantic, this one specifically about the first national park (which predates the creation of the NPS):
“All the world lies warm in one heart, yet the Sierra seems to get more light than other mountains.”
JOHN MUIR AUGUST 1899 ISSUE
Of all the mountain ranges I have climbed, I like the Sierra Nevada the best. Though extremely rugged, with its main features on the grandest scale in height and depth, it is nevertheless easy of access and hospitable; and its marvelous beauty, displayed in striking and alluring forms, wooes the admiring wanderer on and on, higher and higher, charmed and enchanted. Benevolent, solemn, fateful, pervaded with divine light, every landscape glows Continue reading