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Sustainability in the wood sector and forestry
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Author:  Tilleul [ Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:43 am ]
Post subject:  Sustainability in the wood sector and forestry

Hello everyone!
I have recently started getting very interested in forestry and the wood and timber sectors through my studies (environmental science), and I am curious to know what you guys think about sustainability in these sectors. What I mean is, do you think it is desirable, and achievable? And if yes, how? I am very new to this issue and have only learnt about different management options of woodlands, for example on coppicing, rotations and so on, but it's not much to go with and I'd like to hear the opinion of people who have more experience than me in this sector. Or just an educated opinion on it :) Thanks in advance, looking forward to hearing from you all and learning more on the topic!

Author:  Tilleul [ Sat Jul 25, 2015 1:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sustainability in the wood sector and forestry

Really no one has an opinion or idea on this? I was hoping I could find people here who are more knowledgeable than me in this area! Or even if you aren't, any thought would be greatly appreciated :)

Author:  Johhny Electriglide [ Sat Jul 25, 2015 4:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sustainability in the wood sector and forestry

The secret to richer, carbon-capturing soil? Treat your microbes well

By Nathanael Johnson Posted Image Kelsey Amelia Bates
"Imagine if someone invented machines to suck carbon out of the atmosphere — machines that were absurdly cheap, autonomous, and solar powered, too. Wouldn’t that be great? But we already have these gadgets! They’re called plants.
The way that soil locks up greenhouse gas has been frustratingly mysterious, but the basics are clear: After plants suck up the carbon, the critters (microbes and fungi and insects) swarming in the topsoil chew up plant molecules, subjecting them to one chemical reaction after another as they pass through a fantastically complex food web. If everything goes right, the end result is microscopic bricks of stable carbon, which form the foundation of rich black soil.
They will eat corn stalks and wheat straw, but that, alone, is not a balanced diet. That’s like giving people nothing to eat but a mountain of sugar. There are certain elements that all creatures on earth need to build the bodies of the next generation: carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, oxygen, and hydrogen. These six elements are the basic ingredients of living organisms. By leaving stalks and stems on the fields they were providing a lot of carbon, and oxygen and hydrogen comes easily from the air, but the bugs were lacking in nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus.
Instead of simply trying to optimize for the plants, they’ve realized, you can optimize soil along with the plant – you can optimize the whole system.
All this helps explain why organic farms often capture more carbon. In adding compost to amend the soil, organic farmers are adding the same ratios of nutrients.
One thing is certain: If agriculture were able to switch from an emitter of carbon to an absorber of carbon, the effect would be huge. Plants, those cheap carbon-removal machines that nature has given us, work well. If we can get them to make our dinner while they are also sucking up greenhouse gas, what a coup that would be."
I've got two large outdoor composters, 4 composting gardens complete with nematodes and worms of several species and of course fungi. I used compost starter periodically as the outdoor ones filled.
The easy way of "night soil" and cow poop on the ground or piles of leaves, but they are, in reality, very incomplete compost. Real compost doesn't stink. It should also contain charcoal bits or biochar. Healthy soil has a web of life in it, that true compost feeds and becomes fertilizer for the system including edible/usable plants on top.

Since it was measured on a global scale in 1910, the Earth's farm soil has depleted 60%
This here accelerates it!!!
Oil and Gas Operations Are a ‘Death Sentence for Soil’
Amy Mall, Natural Resources Defense Council | May 5, 2014 9:45 am | Comments

Yesterday’s Denver Post has a very important story about the toll of oil and gas production on soil.
soilFIFrom spills to disruption, oil and gas operations take a heavy toll on soil. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

"Soil sounds like a really boring topic. But, as the Soil Science Society of America says: “soils sustain life.” According to the Society, “soil supports and nourishes the plants that we eat” and that livestock eat; soil “filters and purifies much of the water we drink;” “soils teem with microorganisms that have given us many life-saving medications;” and “protecting soil from erosion helps reduce the amount of air-borne dust we breathe.”

According to the Post:

At least 716,982 gallons (45 percent) of the petroleum chemicals spilled during the past decade have stayed in the ground after initial cleanup—contaminating soil, sometimes spreading into groundwater.
Oil and gas drilling produces up to 500 tons of dirt from every new well, some of it soaked with hydrocarbons and laced with potentially toxic minerals and salts.
Heavy trucks crush soil, “suffocating the delicate subsurface ecosystems that traditionally made Colorado’s Front Range suitable for farming.”

These impacts from the tens of thousands of wells in Colorado alone led a Colorado soil scientist to state that oil and gas operations are ”like a death sentence for soil.”

The Post points out that no federal or state agency has ever assessed the impact of the oil and gas boom on soil and on human health."

Some fantastic claims here, but it is a part of the whole solution;

Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change
Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 2014 at 1:50 pm.

Posted by amanda

"We are at the most critical moment in the history of our species, as man-made changes to the climate threaten humanity’s security on Earth. But there is a technology for massive planetary geo-engineering that is tried and tested and available for widespread dissemination right now. It costs little and is adaptable to local contexts the world over. It can be rolled out tomorrow providing multiple benefits beyond climate stabilization.

The solution is farming.

Simply put, we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term “regenerative organic agriculture.”"
Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change | Rodale Institute

Slash and burn agriculture produces 27% of CO2, plus the temporary effects of sun dimming and health effects of the smoke-smog. It also must be decreeased 90% by 2023 to have even a remote chance of stopping thermageddon.
Indonesia's forest fires feed 'brown cloud' of pollution choking Asia's cities | Environment | The Observer
Indonesia's forest fires feed 'brown cloud' of pollution choking Asia's cities

An acrid haze hangs over cities in south-east Asia, where every year 700,000 people die due to air pollution. An IPCC report warns some major urban centres could become uninhabitable "
It is a lot worse than that. Most of China's northern half's soil is totally depleted of organics, and the only thing it is for is holding up plants that live off of petro-chemical fertilizers, which, of course, are also depleting. Their population will crash within 20 years, with desertification taking over much of the depleted landscape.
Soil depletion from all causes is world wide, with the average about 1/3 of what is was 100 years ago.

That is just some past posting. I know that when I did research in 1995, that we had been cutting timber 50 times its regrowth rate since WWII. Throw in deforestation from slash and burn agriculture from Brazil to Indonesia. Throw in human CO2 from fossil fuels and we are 7 trillion short on trees each year. At a thousand years per inch of soil we are over 10,000 years behind. In the past 30 years Colorado forests have increased 25 fold in fire acreage.

Author:  Johhny Electriglide [ Sat Jul 25, 2015 5:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sustainability in the wood sector and forestry

This and more in the topsoil thread;
"Soil helps regulate the carbon and water cycles — it’s a reservoir for both cycles, buffering them from shocks and feeding us, all at the same time. But, Amundson et al. warn:

Profound changes are on the horizon for these interconnected functions — particularly sparked by changes to climate and food production — that will likely reverberate through society this century. Ultimately, the way in which we directly and indirectly manage our planet’s soil will be interwoven within our future success as a species.

We are already running into a hard limit when it comes to soil nutrients. Plants need nutrients like phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium to grow. Microbes, certain plants, and human factories can pull nitrogen out of the air (there’s plenty of it in the atmosphere), but the other nutrients have to come either from mining or recycling.
For a lot of reasons (contamination with prescription drugs, heavy metals, and pathogens in the sewage system) people dislike the idea of turning municipal sewage into fertilizer.
Those flushed nutrients never leave the system in the largest sense, of course: They end up in lakes and oceans and landfills. Phosphorus in the ocean can turn into an algal bloom, which turns into fish, which birds eat and poop out, which we mine for fertilizer. But that cycle takes place far too slowly to meet the needs of hungry humanity.

The only other option is to mine those nutrients, and we are running out:

The growing demand for P [phosphorus] has recently caused an increase in the cost of rock phosphate from about $80 per U.S. ton in 1961 to up to $450 per ton in 2008. Prices since then have fluctuated but are now at about $700 per ton … K [potassium] prices were ~$875 per metric ton in 2009 yet are expected to reach $1500 by 2020.

And the authors point out that these elements are unevenly distributed. The biggest phosphorus mine in the U.S. will be depleted in 20 years, and geopolitical balance of power may get shaken up as nations and corporations begin competing for the remaining reserves in places like Morocco. Oil wars are one thing; at least you can replace oil with other forms of energy. But it’s physically impossible to replace a basic element like P or K."
http://grist.org/food/the-next-big-war- ... gn=climate

We are so far past sustainable in most of the wood industry because we have not even made up for this post WWII slaughter of trees by overpopulation. Nothing probably is sustainable anymore, with human pollution so great that we are in runaway warming of the Arctic. Trees do not like rapid thermal effects. They can not move fast enough as their habitat is heated. The northern retreat of the treeline will increase then end. Indeed, as it is now in Canada and elsewhere, on fire in the Arctic.....

Author:  Tilleul [ Sun Jul 26, 2015 9:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sustainability in the wood sector and forestry

Hi there! Wow, I have to say I didn't even expect that much input, so first of all thank you so much for your great answer - so much interesting things there. I had heard about microbes playing a big part in carbon sequestration, but like the post said there is a lot of uncertainties surrounding these mechanisms - all we know is that it works, but how is a different question.
You post also really summarises the dilemmas we are facing with these issues, namely that what is beneficial for one thing (for example, farming) will be detrimental to another (here, soil microbial communities). I think people tend to forget there are trade-offs and don't look at the bigger ecosystem picture often enough.
You said that "We are so far past sustainable in most of the wood industry because we have not even made up for this post WWII slaughter of trees by overpopulation". I guess it all depends how we define sustainability, and what our baselines are. But I really still have hope for the wood industry, with replanting schemes and other innovations which do work in some parts of the world (e.g.: Scandinavia). For example, there is this Schweighofer prize for innovation in this sector, you might have heard of it (even though it is European). It's basically a monetary price for any project that makes the industry evolve in a more sustainable direction. In the past some new building materials using wood won, and a wooden windmill, but there were lots of interesting projects that were funded. Hope dies last I guess :D

Author:  Tilleul [ Sun Jul 26, 2015 9:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sustainability in the wood sector and forestry

Have you yourself done research in this field? (it sounded like it at some point in your post - always interesting to know what career paths other people have chosen who end up interested in these issues!)

Author:  kindler [ Sun Jul 26, 2015 9:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sustainability in the wood sector and forestry

I think of course there could be more done than is now, sustainability is needed in every field in our society, especially if it come to the ressources from mother nautre that naturally will have an end also - so yes. But I also think that there are really quite a few projects, that are uprising in this concern.

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