Monday, January 12, 2009

Logged/Slashed Rainforests Are Regrowing, but Still Have Issues

Ruth Sandra Sperling
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I read 2 articles today concerning the conference/symposium at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. about the rainforests.

I don't really have all the data that was discussed or presented, but the 2 articles have slightly different perspectives.

Article from "Times Online": Apocalypse delayed: tropical forests fight back as farmers flee

Article from "globeandmail.com/science": Regrowing rain forests still have issues

Also interesting that both are from non-U.S. sources on the Internet, but the Smithsonian is in the United States. The "Times Online" is from London; the "globeandmail.com" is from Canada.

In the first article about "Apocalypse delayed", a Professor Laurance is quoted: “We are still having a devastating loss of forests. It’s just that there’s some suggestion now that it is partly offset by the regeneration of secondary forest.”

In the second article, other statements by the same Professor are given:

"But these young forests cannot support what the old-growth forests did, said William Laurence, also of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Center." - and

“There's just no way that secondary forests are going to capture a lot of the biodiversity and critical ecosystem,” he said. “They're also much more vulnerable to fire.”

I find this discussion all very interesting. It made me think almost immediately of a chapter in Aldo Leopold's book, A Sand County Almanac, Part IV The Upshot, "Wilderness for Science" - where he discusses the value of wilderness for science. Here are 3 of my favorite quotes from this section on this subject in the order they are in this section of his book.

1. "Many forest plantations are producing one-log or two-log trees on soil which originally grew three-log or four-log trees. Why? Thinking foresters know that the cause probably lies not in the tree, but in the micro-flora of the soil, and that it may take more years to restore the flora than it took to destroy it."

....

2. "Palentology offers abundant evidence that wilderness maintained itself for immensely long periods; that its component species were rarely lost, neither did they get out of hand; that weather and water built soil as fast or faster than it was carried away. Wilderness, then, assumes unexpected importance as a laboratory for the study of land-health."

....

3. "One cannot study the physiology of Montana in the Amazon; each biotic province needs its own wilderness for comparative studies of used and unused land."

Also, it should be pointed out that they are discussing the first logging/slashing of the rainforest and the regrowth is secondary forest and seems to be natural regeneration, which is relatively good.

Referring to what Aldo Leopold stated about forest plantations with smaller trees (one-log is smaller than three-log or four-log) - quote #1 above - and what this Professor Laurance is quoted as saying, it is fairly obvious that the deforestation affected the micro-flora of the rainforest soil and that even though there is regrowth, the regrowth is not as strong as the original old growth that was in the rainforest.

But hopefully there is some native original rainforest in the same biotic province that can be studied for restoring more fully the regrowth, if some scientists will follow through with it!

I find it very interesting to apply what I have read in books to what is going on today in the world!!

Restoration can be done - and it is significant in the high biodiversity rainforests, even if the restored areas are not quite as good as the original forests.

If you are interested in the land health of this planet, I strongly encourage you to read Aldo Leopold's books, which you can find listed here: http://www.aldoleopold.org.

And if you are interested, you might want to take a look at my other posts under the Label "forest" here on my blog!

By the way, Aldo Leopold restored forest!!


Ruth

1 comment :

Beholden-To-Nature (Kenna) said...

There is something tranquil and majestic in the energy of an old-growth forest that just does not translate into a replant. I'm not saying logging is always bad, but you know... balance and *respect.* I agree that there are definitely some places that we should respect and leave as they are.