Friday, February 19, 2021

Trees and Climate

It is easy to understand the importance of planting trees when talking about climate change, but cutting them down is not often, if ever, mentioned.  Having just finished posting a six-part series on trees, wood products, and carbon I thought you all might be interested in the below article as well. 

As we just witnessed the terrible destruction out west due to the terrible wildfire season they experienced we have seen first-hand the importance of managing our forests.  We also know that wood is a very environmentally friendly product.  Not only is it renewable and biodegradable but it is also has a very low carbon footprint when used and is carbon neutral as new trees sequester carbon on harvested sites.  So how do we get to where the general public understands how important it is not only to grow new trees but also to use and manage the existing trees.

Let me know what you think about Jonah Bader's opinion piece.

Plant trees, sure. But to savethe climate, we should also cut them down

Opinion by Jonah Bader

Updated 8:34 PM ET, Wed February 10, 2021

"Jonah Bader is an associate producer for "Fareed Zakaria GPS." The views expressed in this commentary are his own. Read more opinion at CNN."

(CNN) Democrats have set their sights on passing major climate legislation, but with a razor-thin majority in Congress, they need to look for common ground with Republicans. One of the most promising ideas is to plant a vast number of trees -- and also to cut them down.

President Joe Biden has announced an ambitious goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. That would mean switching to renewable energy, expanding public transit, retrofitting buildings, and a host of other policies to slash greenhouse gas emissions. But even in the best-case scenario, it won't be possible to eliminate all emissions. The idea of "net-zero emissions" is that any remaining emissions can be fully offset by so-called "negative emissions" -- methods of sucking carbon out of the atmosphere.

Planting trees is the most straightforward way to do that. Trees absorb CO2 for photosynthesis and store it as cellulose and lignin, the main components of wood.

Planting trees may also be the most popular climate policy. Even former President Donald Trump loved the idea. He championed an international initiative to plant 1 trillion trees, which would be enough to soak up at least a decade of global emissions. When Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman, a professional forester, introduced the "Trillion Trees Act" last year, he was joined by a bipartisan group of co-sponsors that included House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.

According to the World Resources Institute, the US alone could add 60 billion new trees to deforested lands, agricultural or urban areas, and sparse eastern forests that aren't prone to wildfires. Forests in the western US, on the other hand, are prone to wildfires, and that calls for putting down the shovel and reaching for the axe.

Wildfires turn trees from asset to liability. Last year's record blazes in California belched twice as much CO2 as the entire state's power plants. It's one of the terrible feedback loops of climate change, where wildfires beget more wildfires.

To break the cycle, it's often necessary to sacrifice individual trees for the good of the whole forest. If large trees are packed densely together, flames can spread easily between them, so "selective thinning" can reduce the risk of large fires. The same goes for small trees, which can act as "ladder fuel" by transmitting fires from the forest floor up to the treetops. Dead trees that are still standing, dried out like matchsticks, pose another fire hazard that can be neutralized with chainsaws.

Selective thinning can also help stop the spread of diseases and insects that, like fires, destroy millions of acres of US woodlands each year. Think of it as social distancing for trees.

There’s more…….to read the rest of the article click here.

Penn State Extension Hosting Deer Impact Summit

February 18, 2021 

Penn State Extension to host deer impact assessment, mitigation webinar series

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new three-session webinar series offered by Penn State Extension provides a roundup of current information and strategies to help natural resource managers understand, assess, and manage deer impact in forested systems.

The “Deer Impact Assessment and Mitigation Summit,” slated for March 25, March 30, and April 1, successively builds content to help attendees frame and understand the issue of deer impact, accurately assess that impact, and use assessment information to strategize management actions on the landscape. Each session runs from noon-2 p.m., incorporating three or four different presentations and at least a 30-minute facilitated question-and-answer period with all speakers.

Sessions will be led by experts from Penn State Extension and feature speakers from the USDA Forest Service, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Penn State, Cornell University, Harvard University, and the National Deer Association.

This program has been approved for professional development credits by three organizations:  the Society of American Foresters (six Category 1 credits, Certified Forester Program); The Wildlife Society (six Category 1 credits, Certified Wildlife Biologist Program); and the PA Sustainable Forestry Initiative (2 years of continuing education units).

Recordings of each session will be shared with all attendees, but professional development credits are available for live attendance only. To register and for full program information, visit

The program outline is as follows:

--March 25: “Understanding Deer, Deer Impact Issues, and Deer Management.” Experts will discuss the context for current conditions regarding deer and deer impact in the region; how we got to where we are today; how deer impact and interact with the landscape; and current trends, issues, and management approaches.

--March 30: “Assessing and Measuring Deer Impact in the Landscape.” Experts will discuss practical strategies and indicators for evaluating, measuring, and classifying levels of deer impact to inform management planning; and how managers may select appropriate evaluation strategies, differentiate levels of impact in standardized ways, and incorporate long-term impact assessment in management planning.

--April 1: “Mitigating Deer Impact in Natural Resource Management Approaches.” Experts will discuss considerations for planning practical deer impact mitigation strategies once existing or potential impact is determined to be significant through assessment; how landscape-scale context factors in to current and expected future deer impact; how exclosures may be most efficiently used to minimize deer impact in certain areas and over time; and how multiple mitigation approaches can be combined within a broader management plan across multiple areas and over time.

Monday, February 15, 2021

A Geneticist's Take on Tackling the Emerald Ash Borer

The emerald ash borer is the most damaging invasive forest insect pest in North America, having killed hundreds of millions of ash trees across the U.S. since it was introduced. Finding and breeding emerald ash borer-resistant trees may be a key strategy in combatting this pest. U.S. Forest Service research on this was recently featured in an article in Science Magazine.

Can an ambitious breeding effort save North America’s ash trees?

By Gabriel Popkin, Nov. 12, 2020

DELAWARE, OHIO—On a weekday morning in August, just one pickup truck sat in the sprawling visitors’ parking lot here at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Forestry Sciences Laboratory. A decades long decline in research funding had been slowly quieting the place—and then came the pandemic.

But in a narrow strip of grass behind a homely, 1960s-era building, forest geneticist Jennifer Koch was overseeing a hive of activity. A team of seven technicians, researchers, and students—each masked and under their own blue pop-up tent—were systematically dissecting 3-meter-tall ash trees in a strange sort of arboreal disassembly line. Over 5 weeks, the researchers would take apart some 400 saplings, peeling wood back layer by layer in search of the maggot-like larvae of the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), the most devastating insect ever to strike a North American tree. Since the Asian beetle was first discovered in Michigan in 2002, it has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees across half the continent and caused tens of billions of dollars of damage.

“We have contests for who can successfully pull out the smallest larvae and the biggest larvae,” Koch says. “People get pretty excited and competitive about it. You have to do something, because it is very tedious—and [the larvae] are really gross.”

The larvae kill ash trees by burrowing into them to feed on bark and, fatally, the thin, pipelike tissues that transport water and nutrients. They then transform into iridescent green beetles about the size of a grain of rice that fly off to attack other trees. Dead larvae excite Koch and her team the most. Those finds signal trees that, through genetic luck, can kill emerald ash borers, rather than the other way around. Such rare resistant trees could ultimately help Koch achieve her ambitious goal: using time-tested plant-breeding techniques to create ash varieties that can fend off the borer and reclaim their historic place in North American forests.

To read the rest of the story click here.