Mangroves are trees or shrubs that grow in salty water in hot places, specifically 1/3 of the tropics including Central America, sub-tropical Africa, Asia, and the southwest Pacific. Their twisted, tangled roots collect sediment, and over time the sediment may become islands or extend the shoreline. By slowing the movement of water and trapping sediment, mangroves help stabilize coastlines and reduce the impacts of storm waves and flooding, all which are growing threats as the climate changes. These distinctive trees also help reduce global warming because their rich, waterlogged soil can absorb and store a great deal of carbon.
Mangroves’ special root-like structure stick out as far as 3 metres from the soil, and are covered in lenticels that are like breathing tubes taking in oxygen through their pores. Smaller roots, with air passages, move oxygen from the air to parts of the plant underwater. Mangrove roots give clear water to the coral by trapping dirt and they clean water by filtering land runoff and removing pollutants. The trees also protect the shoreline (and, through this, the coral reefs) from being eroded by storm waves. Mangrove thickets are a good place for many coral-reef fish, shrimp and crabs to grow. Source: Wikipedia: https://bit.ly/39yMTON
We are learning from Yale Climate Connections, however, that many mangrove forests are disappearing. About a third of the world’s mangroves have been destroyed over the past 50 years, so advocates say there’s a lot more to be done to protect and restore mangroves around the world. Ecoviva is part of a coalition restoring mangroves in El Salvador (https://bit.ly/2xmmq98).
Another restoration project is with One Tree Planted: to plant 1.5 million mangroves in the Sundarbans of India/Pakistan. They report “Mangrove forests move carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into long-term storage in greater quantities than other forests, making them ‘among the planet’s best carbon scrubbers’ according to a NASA-led study based on satellite data.”
You can go to One Tree Planted to donate to this cause. Onetreeplanted.org
The Boreal Forest of Canada
As shown in the map, the huge Boreal forest makes up 60 percent of Canada’s land mass. Canada has about 25-30% of the world’s Boreal forest, the rest being found in the northern hemisphere in Russia, Alaska, northern Europe, Iceland, Mongola and Japan. We as a country are seen as leaders in science based research and practises in the management of the Boreal forest. Canada’s Boreal forest is central to the country’s natural environment, history, culture and economy. Canada respects and looks after its Boreal forest in many ways, including by setting aside legally protected areas, conducting scientific research and monitoring the state of the forests.
Most of the 20 tree species native to the Canadian boreal are conifers, with needle leaves and cones. These include: black spruce, white spruce, balsam fir, larch (tamarack), lodgepole pine, and jack pine. There are a few broad-leaved species of trees: trembling and large-toothed aspen, cottonwood, white birch, and balsam poplar. There are large areas of black spruce, a species which is tolerant of shallow soil, permafrost and waterlogged substrates, although as a consequence they have relatively low biological productivity. Owing to the short growing season, generally infertile and shallow soils, and frequent water logging, most of these forest types are slow-growing species. The lodgepole pine has suffered from the pine beetle. Surprisingly, even though the trees are generally young, the Boreal forest is very efficient in its carbon capture.
Although there are rather few species of trees in the Boreal forest, there is a considerable diversity of plants (1112 species), as well as 85 mammal species, 300 bird species, 32000 insect species, 130 types of fish and many reptiles and amphibians. It is an amazing and complex ecosystem. Source: Wikipedia: https://bit.ly/3aGdlpM.
The Boreal woodland caribou, whose lichen-rich, mature forest habitat spans the Boreal forest from the Northwest Territories to Labrador, is designated as a “threatened species” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. David Suzuki writes that this is because of over logging of our forests and asks us to take action to encourage government to reduce this practice (https://bit.ly/2PZDdFl).
If you do not have Amazon.com for the video above, how about this free National Geographic Slide Show: Meet the people planting trees after Canada’s lumber harvest (https://on.natgeo.com/3cLaqyi).
As we read about the management of our Boreal forest, there are extremely differing views. Some would say our Boreal forest is at risk from industrial development (logging, mining, oil and gas, dams) and others will say our forest is now thriving because of sustainable forest management (that imitates natural disturbances). Unfortunately, there is the added stress of the pine beetle infestation and an increase in the size of fires the past few years in Canada due to global warming. Applying new research into practice and having greater accountability, we do think we are moving towards a new balance of sustainability but the threatened caribou gives us reason for concern. Can we improve our practices fast enough? This is a heated issue and if it is one you are concerned about, you might want to address it in a letter with your members of parliament, (see our page with a sample letter) or respond in another way, by, for example, reading more on the topic or perhaps donating trees to Canada’s Boreal forest through, e.g., Tree Canada. We invite your feedback and ideas too, in our comments section. For more information posted on the Government of Canada’s website, at: https://bit.ly/2TzmQl6, and at BorealBirds.org – https://bit.ly/2TNT4bb.
How the Boreal Forest Contributes to Canada’s Economy
Forestry is a $25 Billion industry in Canada. The heart of the Canadian forest sector is traditional forest products, including lumber, other solid wood products, pulp and paper and activities such as forest management and logging. However, with Canada’s commitment to clean technology and the transition to a low-carbon economy, Lucy was pleased to read that non-traditional forest products, such as advanced bio-products, are growing in importance. The Canadian forest industry is a major employer nationwide, employing over 200,000 people and its economic contributions are particularly important in many rural and Indigenous communities, where forest-related work is often the main source of income. In these communities, forestry jobs are crucial to ensuring economic sustainability. More information on the forest industry is available on the Government of Canada’s website at: https://bit.ly/332NWnQ.
World Wide Forest Management and Carbon Storage
A groundbreaking study found that “natural climate solutions” – the conservation, restoration, and improved management of land in order to increase carbon storage or avoid greenhouse gas emissions in landscapes worldwide – can provide up to 37 percent of the emission reductions needed by 2030 to keep global temperatures under that 2°C mark. That’s 30 percent more than previously estimated. There is, however, a catch: The world must act now. If we’re too slow to start better managing and protecting these natural systems, the inaction will damage Nature’s ability to help heal the planet. Source: Nature.Org at: https://bit.ly/2TSnWqY.
Managed Forest Tax Incentive – Ontario
If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who owns at least four hectares of forested land in Ontario, you may be eligible for significant tax savings.
Ontario’s Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MTIP) is a program designed to increase landowner awareness about forest stewardship. It recognizes that certain forestlands may be privately owned, but may benefit all Ontarians.
The Ontario Woodlot website describes the program requirements and potential MTIP benefits to eligible landowners as:
“Landowners who apply and qualify for the program have their property classified and assessed as managed forest under the Managed Forest property class. The land is taxed at 25 percent of the municipal tax rate set for residential properties.
MFTIP is a voluntary program and in order to be eligible, landowners must:
- own at least 4 hectares (9.88 acres) of forested property,
- must prepare a Managed Forest Plan and have it approved by a certified Managed Forest Plan Approver,
- and activities on the property must be carried out in accordance with “good forestry practices” as defined in the Forestry Act.” https://bit.ly/2wF7LW6
For program details, guide, eligibility criteria and sample application forms go to the Government of Ontario website at: https://bit.ly/2v528jz.
Canadian Botanist – Diana Beresford-Kroeger
Thanks to Reader Terry in B.C., last week we were introduced to Diana Beresford-Kroeger through a five-part series of articles written by Tyee’s Andrew Nikiforuk and published in the New York Times.
Her life-story makes for intriguing reading as much as her pioneering reforestation efforts and insights into the hidden life of trees. Here is what Good Reads writes in a review of Beresford-Kroeger’s book, “To Speak for the Trees: My Life’s Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest,” –
“Canadian botanist, biochemist and visionary Diana Beresford-Kroeger’s startling insights into the hidden life of trees have already sparked a quiet revolution in how we understand our relationship to forests. Now, in a captivating account of how her life led her to these illuminating and crucial ideas, she shows us how forests can not only heal us but save the planet.”
“When Diana Beresford-Kroeger–whose father was a member of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy and whose mother was an O’Donoghue, one of the stronghold families who carried on the ancient Celtic traditions–was orphaned as a child, she could have been sent to the Magdalene Laundries. Instead, the O’Donoghue elders, most of them scholars and freehold farmers in the Lisheens valley in County Cork, took her under their wing. Diana became the last ward under the Brehon Law. Over the course of three summers, she was taught the ways of the Celtic triad of mind, body and soul. This included the philosophy of healing, the laws of the trees, Brehon wisdom and the Ogham alphabet, all of it rooted in a vision of nature that saw trees and forests as fundamental to human survival and spirituality. Already a precociously gifted scholar, Diana found that her grounding in the ancient ways led her to fresh scientific concepts. Out of that huge and holistic vision have come the observations that put her at the forefront of her field: the discovery of mother trees at the heart of a forest; the fact that trees are a living library, have a chemical language and communicate in a quantum world; the major idea that trees heal living creatures through the aerosols they release and that they carry a great wealth of natural antibiotics and other healing substances; and, perhaps most significantly, that planting trees can actively regulate the atmosphere and the oceans, and even stabilize our climate.”
“This book is not only the story of a remarkable scientist and her ideas, it harvests all of her powerful knowledge about why trees matter, and why trees are a viable, achievable solution to climate change. Diana eloquently shows us that if we can understand the intricate ways in which the health and welfare of every living creature is connected to the global forest, and strengthen those connections, we will still have time to mend the self-destructive ways that are leading to drastic fires, droughts and floods.” https://bit.ly/333rdYY.
Man of the Trees – Richard St. Barbe Baker
Author Paul Hanley, as well as the International Tree Foundation might claim that the work of Beresford-Kroeger builds upon and follows the earlier pioneering efforts of Richard St. Barbe Baker, who some say is the original “global conservationist”.
Hanley’s biography of this fascinating environmentalist is titled, “Man of the Trees: Richard St. Barbe Baker, The First Global Conservationist”. Barry Silverstein offers this positive review of it in ForewardReview.Com:
“Richly textured, Man of the Trees paints an intimate portrait of environmentalist Richard St. Barbe Baker.
Baker was a self-admitted “tree hugger” who, as early as the 1920s, pursued sustainable forestry and started Men of the Trees, the first international environmental nongovernmental organization. Paul Hanley’s biography faithfully follows Baker as he roams the world and innovates in forestry, instigating a dance for the planting of trees in Africa, working to save the redwoods in California, and envisioning the reforesting of the Sahara desert. The man revealed is passionate, driven, and fully committed to environmental conservation.
This biography is all the more fascinating because it delves into Baker’s psyche and his personal life. Hanley carefully documents Baker’s love of trees, which began during his childhood in England and never stopped. It brought Baker fame when, on a radio program, Lowell Thomas named him “the man of the trees” and notoriety when Baker influenced Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps.
Hanley chronologically traces Baker’s progression as an environmentalist until his death in 1982. As with many visionaries, some of Baker’s ideas were too advanced for his time, but today they are being realized. For example, “His vision of a green front against the Sahara ultimately came to fruition in the twenty-one nation effort to plant Africa’s Great Green Wall.”
Baker’s life was complex and at times “serendipitous.” He acted as “a catalyst, a wedge, a collaborator.” His Men of the Trees organization was renamed the International Tree Foundation and continues Baker’s mission to combat deforestation in Africa.
Man of the Trees is a finely drawn, well-executed biography of an important environmental figure.” https://bit.ly/2TwUFmW
Wikipedia describes St. Barbe Baker as, “…an inspirational visionary and pioneering environmentalist who is credited with saving and planting billions of trees.” He founded the international Men of the Trees organization after World War II, which was later renamed as the International Tree Foundation (UK) and continues its tree planting work around the world to this day. Read what the Foundation has to say about Why Trees Matter at: https://bit.ly/3cFmj8J.
Both Beresford-Kroeger and St. Barbe Baker have strong Canadian connections – Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a Canadian living in Ontario, and St. Barbe Baker is buried at Woodlawn Cemetry in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. According to Wikipedia, “Saskatoon City Council in 1979 celebrated the achievement and distinction of Baker naming the afforestation area preserved in perpetuity in Saskatoon (south of the CNR Station) in his honour – the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area. Richard St Barbe Baker’s papers, manuscripts, personal correspondence, forestry and conservation activities, photographs and fonds are preserved at the University of Saskatchewan Archives and Special Collections Room.” https://bit.ly/2TOjo4T.
Perhaps, as we learned earlier, since the huge Boreal forests occupy 60 percent of Canada’s landmass, it may be only fitting that Canada is also home to such eminent and leading botanists and inspirational tree experts and advocates as St. Barbe Baker and Beresford-Kroeger.
FYI, at a Reader’s suggestion (thank you), we have added a new Menu item called “Quick Links to Old Posts“.
We try to end each post with a good news story.
We are encouraged by what the possibilities might hold in future for greater momentum, innovation and resolve to stop the world’s climate crisis, sponsored in part by a big boost in climate change philanthropy – to the tune of $10 Billion (!) – via the new Bezos’ Earth Fund, announced in February 2020. This article in the Verge (https://bit.ly/39Du3q0) as well as this BBC interview with Professor Elizabeth Robinson at the University of Reading, begin to imagine where best to invest these new funds, for the best ROI on behalf of Planet Earth and all our futures…..https://bbc.in/39FIbyJ.
Just in time for this week’s post focused on forests, we learned that in 2012 the UN began designating every March 21 as International Day of Forests.
The UN’s website, titled Too Precious to Lose, explains why – “When we drink a glass of water, write in a notebook, take medicine for a fever or build a house, we do not always make the connection with forests. And yet, these and many other aspects of our lives are linked to forests in one way or another.”
“Forests, their sustainable management and use of resources, including in fragile ecosystems, are key to combating climate change, and to contributing to the prosperity and well-being of current and future generations. Forests also play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)…”
“…Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects.”
“Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate.“
Readers may wish to learn more on this at: https://bit.ly/2xsDUAB and/or watch this one-minute video clip profiling the 2020 theme for International Day of Forests as ‘Forests and Biodiversity’ (https://bit.ly/2TIFF5o). For mystery-lovers, seven secrets that forests are keeping from us may be discovered here at https://bit.ly/2IGyBjv.
March presents us with an opportunity to reflect on the importance of forests to our lives, as we prepare to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, 2020 – less than six weeks away.
Next week’s Blog post will look into tree canopies and bird survival, and what contributes to effective tree planting and survival rates.