suggestions for deciduous substitution?

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Sat Jan 13 12:29:26 EST 2001

In article <93pkmf$1h5 at>,
  lewitt at (Martin E. Lewitt) wrote:
> In article <93nhuk$pop$1 at>,  <dwheeler at> wrote:
> >In article <93msl3$hdm at>,
> >The reason the lumber industry likes evergreens is that they concentrate
> >biomass into one relatively straight stem. Many of the largest softwoods
> >also are the largest known trees in the world: Coastal redwood, Giant
> >sequoia, Ponderosa pine, Sugar pine, Douglas fir, etc.
> >Deciduous trees tend to grow wide and squat rather than tall and massive.
> >That's why the majority of climax forest trees are evergreen rather than
> >deciduous. This fact was noted over 100 years ago by the first head of
> >the Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot from research done in the Black
> >Forest of Germany.
> I need to overcome the bias in my thinking.  "Flowering plants are superior,
> and these conifirs are more primitive."  If they have survived and are
> the climax forest then who are we to judge them.
> >The thing that doesn't make sense is the alledged "research" you mention
> >above. Evergreens live far longer than hardwoods, and degradation of
> >their biomass requires considerably longer than hardwoods, which
> >logically results in a longer carbon sequestration than from hardwoods.
> >Until such work is cited and can go through the review process, I would
> >be extremely leery of it.
> I was encouraged by the research, because I thought it meant there was
> another idea for something we could do, and helped explain the northern
> temperatures that were higher than expected from the early climate
> models.                          -- Martin
> --
I appreciate that, Martin. But regardless of whether you have conifers or
broadleafs nearby, there will always be the danger of fire.

The thing that undisturbed forests have over *planned* forests are
multiple canopy levels, and nearly solid overstory. This shelters the
soil from direct sunlight, increases fungal productivity, and increases
the health of the forest while retaining more of the water that falls
each year. Old growth forests are projected to store at least 2-5 years
of annual rainfall within their wood biomass. During both hot and drought
years, this stored water cools the air, decreases fire danger, and
moderates drought.

The one thing private landowners can do which is beneficial to their
safety as well as the forest's is to prune small-diameter dead woody
debris from living trees, and chip them into sawdust or chips. Small
diameter debris is the majority of what fires feed on, and at the same
time the most beneficial material for long-term soil health. By chipping
the material, you put a greater surface area open to fungal degradation
close to the soil, where it is recycled quickly, and the nutrients stored
therein go back to the living trees, making them even more fire-

Unless you are unlucky to have a *devastation* forest fire, such common-
sense pruning goes a long way toward fire-proofing your property. But
anyone who lives near trees of any size has a fire danger, whether they
know it or not.

In addition, a study done at Bull Run Watershed, which supplies most of
the drinking water for the Portland metropolitan area, found that conifer
needles, especially pine, spruce, hemlock and fir, "comb" moisture from
clouds, and can substantially increase the available water in a forest
even when rainfall or other percipitation is unavailable. BTW, this *
technology* is being used in the driest parts of Chile and Argentina to
create enough water to support an ever-growing population and the crops
needed to support them.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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