Conservation group to purchase worlds largest privately owned giant sequoia forest

October 2, 2019 by  
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Alder Creek, a 530-acre forest billed as the largest privately owned giant sequoia property in the world, will be acquired by century-old conservation group, Save the Redwoods League. The group will ultimately transfer the land to the United States Forest Service to safeguard the trees as a national treasure. Alder Creek’s sequoia trees number 483, many with diameters of 6 feet or greater. Mightiest of Alder Creek’s sequoias is Stagg Tree, believed to be the fifth-largest tree in the world. It towers at 250 feet with a width of 25 feet. Related: How National Parks benefit the environment Known for reaching heights of more than 300 feet, giant sequoias are esteemed for their rarity. What sets apart the giant sequoia from other trees is that it lives to be up to 3,000 years old, older than Christmas itself. Only two other tree species — the Great Basin bristlecone pine and the Patagonian cypress — have members older than the giant sequoia. These trees are only found in approximately 73 groves across 48,000 acres of Sierra Nevada territory. Most of the land these majestic behemoths grow on is in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Forest and Yosemite National Park .  The height and girth of one giant sequoia means this ancient type of tree is resilient. Its carbon-sequestering capacity makes it irreplaceable, which is why its long-term conservation is of poignant significance. It is also home to such endangered animals as the American marten, California spotted owl and Pacific fisher. “Old growth of any species , let alone the world’s largest trees, is extraordinarily rare,” explained Samuel Hodder, president and SEO of Save the Redwoods League. “There is precious little left of the natural world as we found it before the Industrial Revolution. Alder Creek is the natural world at its most extraordinary.” Alder Creek, located about 10 miles south of Yosemite National Park, is comparable in size and significance to the renowned Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Of the 1,200 acres of giant sequoia stands still held privately, Alder Creek is the largest, measuring about five times the size of other privately owned parcels. Alder Creek has been on land owned by the Rouch family since the 1940s. Claude Albert Rouch initially purchased the land for logging . While the family logged pine and fir for lumber, they made sure the giant sequoias remained unscathed. The deal has been under negotiation for the past 20 years, and the group has until the close of 2019 to garner the $15.6 million required to secure Alder Creek’s purchase. + Save The Redwoods League Via Times Standard Photography by Victoria Reeder via Save the Redwoods League

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Conservation group to purchase worlds largest privately owned giant sequoia forest

Hundreds of community climate action plans, yet few include forests

September 4, 2019 by  
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It’s about accounting for the forests and the trees.

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Hundreds of community climate action plans, yet few include forests

See the forest for more than the trees why reforestation isn’t working

August 6, 2019 by  
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We can all agree planting a tree is good for the environment — right? According to a recent study in Nature , the global crusade for reforestation as a remedy for climate change is largely missing the mark. So where did it go wrong? The new evidence reveals that most of the countries with large-scale tree-planting programs are actually developing tree plantations, which might help the economy but fail to sequester the carbon that the countries originally pledged to. The Bonn Challenge promises 350 million hectares of trees In 2011, the international Bonn Challenge was announced as an ambitious plan to plant 150 million hectares of trees by 2020. In 2014, more than 100 nations signed on under the New York Declaration of Forests, increasing the target to 350 million hectares by 2030. Unlike many lofty development goals, most countries are actually on track to exceed their promises, at least at first glance. In fact, the world actually has more forest cover now than it did in 1982. So, what’s the problem? Related: The ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ is transforming northwestern Pakistan Well, the majority of countries have been using the incentives and global momentum to back monoculture farms and counting trees that will be logged within years in their Bonn Challenge totals. According to the assessment, 45 percent of trees planted were species that will be quickly harvested for paper production. Another 21 percent were tree farm species, like fruits, nuts and cocoa . Only 34 percent of trees planted were part of so-called “natural forest,” even though the original intention of the Bonn Challenge was that all hectares planted should be natural forest. “Policymakers are misinterpreting the term forest restoration [and] misleading the public,” argued the study authors, Simon Lewis of Leeds University and Charlotte Wheeler from Edinburgh University. While agroforestry trees do provide important benefits to the environment and economy, monoculture plantations (especially when farmers clear natural forests for crops) fail to provide anywhere close to the same benefit in terms of sequestration and biodiversity . The value of natural forest A general definition of a natural forest is a “multilayered vegetation unit dominated by trees, whose combined strata have overlapping crowns, and where grasses are generally rare.” In general, a natural forest will store up to 40 times more carbon than a plantation that is harvested every decade. Related: How forest bathing can profoundly improve your health and well-being More than just trees , forests are important and intricate ecosystems. They are home to incredible biodiversity and provide sanctuary and habitat for thousands of species. They are also critical to the climate, because forests maintain rainfall and prevent desertification. Because clouds accumulate over forests, places that have destroyed all of their major forests often experience low rainfall, drought, desertification and other climate-related issues. Reforestation pledges around the world Even before the Bonn Challenge, China launched a massive reforestation program in response to flooding along the Yangtze River. Despite over two decades of reforestation, the report claims that 99 percent of all trees planted have been within monoculture plantations. Related: Philippine students must plant 10 trees to graduate, new law says In Niger, after years of complying with foreign and government extension officers who advised farmers to remove trees, farmers have finally argued that native trees serve an important purpose right where they are. Trees stabilize soil, produce nitrogen, buffer strong wind and improve organic matter in the soil. As a result of the farmers’ knowledge, deforestation has decreased, although the majority of farmers now wisely plant trees that will supplement their incomes rather than simply sequester seemingly abstract carbon. Yale Environment 360 reported that in Brazil, up to 82 percent of the forest restoration work is developing monoculture plantations and not natural forests. How to plant a forest? “Get out of the way.” According to National Geographic’s investigative article, “ How to regrow a forest: Get out of the way ,” even specific efforts by the U.S. Forest Department to plant natural forests have not worked the way they were intended to. For ease of planting and eventual use as lumber, the Forestry Department had a long-term tradition of planting native trees in neat rows at 12-foot gaps. Though the majority of trees were then left to develop into natural forests, the meticulous spacing has since exacerbated fire risk. The Department now opts for more irregular spacing and species biodiversity. Although it is more time- and cost-intensive, it ends up saving the department in firefighting costs later. Similarly, in Canada, a study found that a government campaign to drain wetlands thought to be smothering spruce trees caused a fire that destroyed 2,400 homes in 2016. Under the pretense of growing larger trees to store more carbon, peatlands were systematically destroyed. However, it is now recognized that peatlands ultimately store enormous amounts of carbon naturally and were more resilient to fires. “If you take the perspective that no matter what, more trees are better, that’s going to have unintended consequences,” said Sofia Faruqi from the World Resource Institute. “In the case of the West Coast, restoration may mean removing trees from the landscape.” Turning over a new leaf on reforestation pledges According to Faruqi, policies must acknowledge both what kind of tree is planted and how the tree “jibes with the larger health of the forest, the amount of water available or the needs of local people.” As we approach the start of the United Nation’s declared Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, many forestry experts agree that reforestation solutions must be localized — both at a national level and at the individual forest level. While the need for income, especially sustainably sourced income, is paramount, cash crop trees should be planted in addition to the 350 million acres of natural forest. Tropical forests are particularly important, because they have the potential to capture more carbon than any other forest type in the world. In many equatorial regions, where there are large amounts of land available and a high need for economic stimulation, healthy tropical forests can provide jobs, support indigenous traditions and capture an estimated 3 billion tons of carbon annually. That’s the equivalent of taking 2 billion cars off the road every year. Blanket pledges of specific tree planting targets have not worked and leave the door open for damaging misinterpretation. More research and awareness is needed to understand the importance of different ecosystems and more priority given to protecting and keeping natural ecosystems intact. The idea that any tree planted helps is simply outdated and misleading. A quote by American poet, environmentalist and farmer Wendell Berry sums it up nicely: “Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest.” + Nature Via Yale Environment 360 and National Geographic Images via Michael Benz , Marc Pell , Jesse Gardner , Janusz Maniak , Steven Kamenar and Zoer Ng

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See the forest for more than the trees why reforestation isn’t working

Ethiopia plants 350 million trees in one day

July 31, 2019 by  
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Ethiopia broke the world’s tree-planting record by planting more than 350 million trees in just one day. The effort is part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Green Legacy Initiative, which aims to address climate change and deforestation. The goal of the program is to plant more than four billion indigenous trees throughout the country. It has already reportedly planted three billion, and last week’s efforts made significant progress toward meeting the target. Related: Scientists confirm tree planting is our best solution to climate change Some government offices were shut down for the day to allow staff to participate in the planting efforts. Representatives from the United Nations, African Union and foreign embassies also came out to support the event. “We’re halfway to our goal,” the prime minister announced midway through the planting day, and he encouraged Ethiopians to continue the work in the remaining time. He later announced on Twitter they had not only met the “collective #GreenLegacy goal” but exceeded it. The prime minister is hopeful that he can reach his final target if every citizen plants 40 seedlings. The government is running educational videos about planting and maintaining trees to encourage citizens to join in. The biggest concern for young seedlings is grazing by goats and other livestock that would destroy the trees before they have a chance to grow. Ethiopia’s forest cover is alarmingly low and plummeted over the last few decades. At the start of the 20th century, the country had approximately 35 percent forest cover, but that number dropped to just 4 percent in 2000. Over 80 percent of Ethiopians rely on agriculture or forest products for their income. “I think we demonstrated the capacity for people to come together collectively and deliver on a shared vision,” said Billene Seyoum, Ahmed’s press secretary. The previous record for tree planting was held by India, where 66 million trees were planted in one day in 2017. Via CNN and Climate Change News Image via Pixabay

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Heatwave roasts mussels alive in California

July 3, 2019 by  
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An unusual heatwave sent droves of Californians to the beach, where they were met with hundreds of unfamiliar beach-goers – cooked mussels. Consecutive days of high temperatures caused a widespread die-off of mussels along Northern California’s Bodega Bay, a marine reserve and fishing community. Ecologists reported similar die-of scenarios throughout a 140 mile stretch of coastline. Although there was a similar die-off of mussels in 2004, this appears to be the largest in 15 years. With low-tide temperatures reaching up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the mussels were roasted right in their shells and washed up on the beaches fully cooked. Related: Trash collecting device returned to Pacific garbage patch Scientists worry that although they can see the damage to the mussel population by walking along the shore, there could be other widespread damage to other species and ecosystems below the water and out of eyesight, as mussels are a critical species within their ecosystem. “Mussels are known as a foundation species . The equivalent are the trees in a forest– they provide shelter and habitat for a lot of animals, so when you impact that core habitat it ripples throughout the rest of the system,” said marine research coordinator, Jackie Sones. “These events are definitely becoming more frequent, and more severe. Mussels are one of the canaries in the coal mine for climate change, only this canary provides food and habitat for hundreds of other species,” said Christopher Harley, a biologist at the University of British Columbia. Much research about rising sea levels and temperatures focuses on nearshore tropical ecosystems, where coral reefs are sensitive to even the slightest shifts in temperature or acidity. Less research exists for cooler coastlines and open waters such as Northern California, but the mussel die-off is evidence that the negative impacts of climate change have already reached these waters. Via The Guardian Image via joycemay

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Heatwave roasts mussels alive in California

Earth911 Podcast, July 1, 2019: Customers Targeting Single-Use Plastic Bags

July 1, 2019 by  
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Theresa Carter launched an online petition calling on Target Stores … The post Earth911 Podcast, July 1, 2019: Customers Targeting Single-Use Plastic Bags appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast, July 1, 2019: Customers Targeting Single-Use Plastic Bags

Earth911 Podcast, June 7, 2019: Recycling’s National Safety Stand-Down Day

June 7, 2019 by  
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Earth911 Podcast, June 3, 2019: It Is the Time for Trees at the Arbor Day Foundation

June 3, 2019 by  
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Earth911 Podcast, June 3, 2019: It Is the Time for Trees at the Arbor Day Foundation

Philippine students must plant 10 trees to graduate, new law says

May 31, 2019 by  
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The Philippine Senate passed a new law passed this month requiring all students to plant 10 trees in order to graduate. The program would total about 525 billion trees planted across one generation of students. The “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act,” championed by Congressman Gary Alejano encourages inter-generational collaboration and responsibility for the future of the environment. The Act encompasses 12 million elementary school graduates, 5 million high school graduates and half a million college graduates every year . Related: English tree planting challenge will help plant 130,000 trees “While we recognize the right of the youth to a balanced and healthy ecology …there is no reason why they cannot be made to contribute in order to ensure that this will be an actual reality,” said Congressman Gary Alejano. Local nonprofits will assist with the implementation of the new legislation by selecting indigenous tree species and site locations. According to the Act, trees will only be planted in mangroves, existing forests, protected areas, military ranges, abandoned mining sites and urban areas. The nonprofits will also establish nurseries to ensure the stock of trees can keep up with the annual surge in demand. The Philippines is recognized as a highly deforested country. Nearly 25 million acres of forest cover was cut down in just 50 years between 1938 and 1988, primarily for the logging industry. Throughout the entire 20th century, forest cover dropped from 70 percent of land to just 20 percent. Without trees to stabilize the ground and coastline, communities and urban areas are at elevated risk for flooding and landslides. Congressman Alejano is confident that even if only 10 percent of the trees survive, the widespread planting will result in at least 525 million additional trees. Furthermore, students will learn the valuable lesson that they must be part of the solution to protect the environment for their future and for their children’s future. Via Bored Panda Image via Exchanges Photos

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Inside The Mohicans: an Ohio treehouse empire

May 22, 2019 by  
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Waking up in a tree 30 feet off the ground with no noise but birdsong, you might not think you were halfway between Columbus and Cleveland. But The Mohicans is a collection of treehouses and cabins in the quiet woods of Ohio’s Amish country. The treehouses are situated off the road and far enough apart that you can spend a night or two and never run into your human neighbors. Kevin Mooney began building treehouses on his property in 2012. Now, he’s a treehouse addict— with seven completed and a couple more nearly done. “When I hit 20, I might slow down,” he said. Building a Treehouse Empire Mooney was in junior high school when he first visited this area of woods, Amish farmhouses, rolling hills and the canoe-friendly Mohican River. A friend’s family owned 300 acres and Mooney and his classmates spent many weekends in an old farmhouse . Mooney loved the area at first sight. As an adult, he bought land near his old friend’s house. When he left his work as a banking entrepreneur 15 years ago, Mooney decided to share his land with visitors. He started building cabins. Related: Futuristic treehouse in Arkansas is designed to inspire imagination Then a friend showed Mooney a book by master treehouse builder Pete Nelson. “I looked at the treehouse book and I had one of those ‘ah’ moments.” Immediately he saw treehouses in his future. “I really believed in treehouses. I thought, people are going to come here to stay in treehouses.” Mooney was already working closely with an Amish builder named Roman Hershberger. The two men studied Pete Nelson’s treehouse books and began figuring out how to construct them. Mooney then decided to contact Nelson, who eventually visited Ohio and built a treehouse on Mooney’s property for the first season of his Animal Planet/Discovery Network show,  Treehouse Masters. The show introduced The Mohicans to a worldwide audience. Meet the treehouses The Little Red Treehouse Nelson built for his show is the most immediately striking. Its bright red exterior and gothic faux stained glass windows make it look like a cross between a chapel and a one-room schoolhouse. The neutral colors of the other treehouses blend into the forest . The Old Pine Treehouse was built inside the property’s only pine stand from reclaimed barn siding. Inside, the feel is rustic, with hand hewn beams and vintage touches. White Oak Treehouse, suspended from oak and hickory trees, is the most spacious, with two full bedrooms. The romantic Moonlight Treehouse boasts a crystal chandelier. The Octagonal Nest treehouse, designed by the famous treehouse builder Roderick Romero, includes cathedral windows and is popular with honeymooners. The more modern Tin Shed Treehouse has a corrugated metal exterior, big windows and a rolling garage door that opens onto a deck. Other treehouses are coming soon, including an aerial Airstream trailer. Each treehouse has its own staircase and suspension bridge, which is part of the fun of staying there. How many hotel rooms come with a private bridge? Eco measures  Standing in a cabin at The Mohicans, it seems like the lights are on. But that’s the clever placement of skylights .  Since the Amish don’t use electricity, they are masters at maximizing passive light and energy. They’re firm believers in insulation and even take advantage of the earth’s seasonal tilt. “We built our overhangs about three feet out from the structures,” Mooney said, “so in the wintertime the sun comes in the structure and in the summertime it doesn’t.” Buildings at the Mohicans that sit on the ground, rather than in the trees,  such as the cabins and the wedding venue, are heated through hot water lines on the floor. In summer, these structures are 20 degrees cooler inside than out. “We do a lot of repurposing,” Mooney said. Whether it’s buying two thousand dollars’ worth of repurposed insulation or disassembling four old barns from Toledo, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania, it’s likely that parts of Mooney’s treehouses had a previous life. Weddings Mooney soon discovered that brides and grooms were drawn to The Mohicans’ rustic charm and beauty, so he began to dream up a central building. His Amish crew built the grand barn wedding venue without a drawn plan. The builder stood on the site, calling out to his assistant the size of the lumber he needed; the assistant would go cut a tree and saw it to the correct length. The result is a fabulous rustic barn that incorporates 100-year old barn siding, hand hewn beams, re-purposed windows and doors, and endless vintage accents and details such as sliding barn shutters, hay loft ladders and solid pine trusses. Old wagon wheels have been turned into chandeliers. Despite the warnings of friends who told Mooney his rustic weddings would never catch on, lots of couples find treehouses romantic. He’s had many out of state couples, and some from as far as Norway and England. One couple from London got engaged there; the bride insisted they come back this June for the wedding. The Treehouse Experience Like many of the treehouses, the octagonal El Castillo is made from old barn wood. This treehouse is so new it isn’t even on the website yet. Red textiles and wrought iron light fixtures bolster its castle image. Downstairs is one good-sized room— large enough for a person to do yoga or two people to have a restrained dance party— which serves as the sitting area and kitchen, unless you pull down the Murphy bed— which takes up most of the downstairs room. The kitchen is well-stocked with pots, pans, a two-burner hot plate and a microwave. Related: This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood If you don’t want to drive five miles to the nearest restaurant, you need to plan ahead and bring all your food , including spices and cooking oil. This is especially important if you have special dietary restrictions. Vegans , take heed and buy provisions in Columbus before you drive into the woods. Also, bring your own soap. A gorgeous, rustic spiral staircase takes you to El Castillo’s upstairs bedroom. The king-sized bed is comfortable, so plan to sleep in. El Castillo has a small balcony off the bedroom and a larger one off the sitting room. A small bathroom is downstairs. There’s also an outside shower on the lower balcony. The amount of insulation inside these treehouses is surprising. Inside was cool, quiet and bug-free. The treehouses are an interesting combination of remote yet modern. There’s no Wi-Fi and you probably won’t have cell service, but there are tons of outlets for charging all your devices. While El Castillo technically sleeps four, most would find that crowded. however, couples, friends and especially families delight in the treehouse experience. Mooney’s favorite thing about running a treehouse empire? Without hesitation, he says, “Hearing the kids run across the bridge laughing.” Via The Mohicans Images via Inhabitat

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