What is agroforestry? Well...

Michael Hagen mhagen at mail.olympus.net
Fri Aug 15 13:44:35 EST 1997

kats wrote:
> Jamie Simpson wrote in article <33F3C660.1450 at uoguelph.ca>...:Yes, this most
> certainly is agroforestry.  Seeing as how high THC 'Weed'
> :can be grown here, there is no reason to believe that low THC hemp could
> :not be grown for fibre production.   There are a few trial plots of
> :monocropped hemp in Ontario.
> Too bad it is still illegal to grow hemp for fibre here in BC - I am tired
> of paying the outrageous prices for imported hemp products.

Just saw a breakdown on the conifer fiber vs. hemp vs. kenaf issue.
Without going into exhausting detail the American Forest & Paper Assoc.
found that "the highest yield of paper grade (hemp) fiber is 1.17
tons/acre in Italy.  Kenaf and hardwood "supertrees"  produce close to 6
Now I admit to never having grown either of the alternative crops
myself, but wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that hemp and kenaf
would be grown in a very intensive manner, that is, high in herbicide
use, high fertilization, and with very little plant matter returned to
the soil?  This doesn't sound compatible with most forest conditions,
much less what we would consider in healthy riparian areas.  Sounds
better for low value ag lands. Please correct me if I'm off target.

> :where are the people who are practicing this stuff?  And as consulting
> :foresters, are you informing your clients of such potential income?  If
> :not, then are you doing all that you can for your clients?
> As a consultant, I can recommend to my hearts content.  Unfortunately,
> legalities (back to the hemp thing) prohibit my making the recommendations I
> would like to make. 

Also, potential clients think you're a crazed enviro (bad word here)
when you start talking about sustainable forestry and alternative crops.
The attitude that if it doesn't require heavy equipment, its not worth
anything seems to be common among local land managers, with the definite
exception of several tribal land managers.

 It is unfortunate because we have a few sites here that
> have been clearcut that will take a long time to produce merch timber (high
> elevation, very exposed sites).  Hemp could be a possible alternative to
> conifers in these areas.  Also all those river flats that will never be
> logged again - unfortunately due to rising water tables and seasonal
> flooding - will not support conifers (very few, anyways).  Usually we end up
> with a healthy crop of red alder  :)  BUT the forest service does not want a
> crop of red alder if we logged sitka spruce, hemlock and amabilis fir.  So
> every year we replant the areas with balsam and hemlock (sitka spruce gets
> hit real hard here by white pine weevil so it is a non-crop tree now).  If
> the encroaching brush doesn't wipe them out, they just drown.  And the few
> that do survive must reach 'free growing' status in a set time frame
> (usually 11 - 14 years).  In order to reach that status, all 'competing'
> brush species (including alder, maple, poplar, etc.) must be wiped out.  So,
> we treat the brush and girdle the alder . . .

The forest service here finally gave up and recognized that Red
Alder/Big Leaf Maple/ Cottonwood community is the dominant type for
certain frequently disturbed floodplain sites. However, the State
occasionally forces conifer to establish because of the need for large
woody debris for fisheries habitat.

>good stuff snipped ...all the other complications (wildlife habitat, ministry of environment, riparian management restrictions, bla bla) and you have a full blown circus on your hands.
>Thats why we get paid the big bucks (snort :) Actually I misdirected a rant myself recently, (into the ozone, I think) that refered to ginseng, chanterelles, curly willow and some really good alternative forest crops. There are several people here in the former logging capital of the world that have always been into the alternative forest market and the ideas are getting more refined. Using alt crops as trades for riparian restrictions is just the first step, although it's tough for many. Ultimately a temporate climate branch of agroforestry will result and I want to be in on it.
> Rant all you like - it gets the rest of us going <G>
> kath

Mike H.

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