Kerry's forest ideas out of step with sound ecosystem management

Psalm 110 Melchizedek at
Sun Aug 1 01:30:01 EST 2004

wxdano9 at (Dano) wrote in message news:<e351cb91.0407311754.34a1dd0e at>...
> Larry Caldwell <larryc at> wrote in message news:<MPG.1b59f2de6010615598afa9 at>...

> > Nutrients are not removed from a forest by logging.  The wood itself 
> > contains very little nutrients of any kind, other than the base 
> > cellulose and lignin.  Only the green, growing part of the tree actually 
> > contains trace nutrients.  Slash is not normally removed from the 
> > forest, though burning slash destroys nutrients and is not the best use 
> > of the material.  Chopping and blowing the slash back on the ground is a 
> > great improvement over the nutrient depletion caused by fire.

Nutrients most definitely are removed by logging. The most significant
visible evidence of this is brown streams of the runoff carrying away
large amounts of soil nutrients. Compaction of soil by heavy equipment
is another form of removal of nutrients, where moisture can no longer
penetrate and oxygenation cannot occur by the compression out of all
soil pore-spaces. Such impromtu "roads" or tracks take out of the
forest nutrient budget vast amounts of nutrients that otherwise were
previously available for circulation through myriads of lifeforms.

The forest decomposers of wood are the fungi. As a grower of oyster
mushrooms I can verify that this lifeform transforms nothing but wood,
sawdust, or straw into highly nutritious mycellium flesh. Laboratory
analysis of mushroom nutrients shows that oyster mushrooms have close
to the same protein content of milk. If you know your biochemistry,
then you know that the formula is 6.25 times the nitrogen content
equals the crude protein content.

There is considerably more going on here then the simplistic level of
discussion, and since these facts have been absent from the
discussion, it indicates a serious deficiency of knowledge by at least
one person who signs themselve as a "real environmentalist".

I know, but you don't know, the names and natural history of the
important forest fungi decomposers, some of which possess the gene for
manufacturing one of the three known forms of the enzyme 'Nitrogenase'
which fixes atmosheric nitrogen into living flesh.

What you don't know is enormous, and what you have shown you do know
is small. The first barrier you need to overcome is the fact that
there are a couple hundred books that you need to get about the
business of reading before you are qualified to hold an opinion here
on these matters. Don't let me keep you, the library is thataway >>>.

Just because soil is opaque to human vision does not mean that the
subterranean portion of forest ecology is irrelevent. My best estimate
is 40% of photosynthesis product ends up underground in the root
structures and micro-ecology. Root hairs are constantly seeking out
fresh lodes of nutrients to bring up from the depths and eventually
rain down as discarded needles, discarded leaves, or duff. These deep
nutrient torrents are shut off and shut down with the removal of the
mature trees. There are serious repercussions for altering the forest
landscape, and you are not displaying awareness of some of the most
major factors to be considered.
> In a very narrow sense this is true. The 'purpose' of dead wood is to
> release carbon back into the cycle - carbon being a nutrient. Organic
> matter and water holding capacity is added to the soil. "Nurse logs"
> is a good term to remember here.

Wood has no "purpose" in nature.  Wood is. Carbon is. Decomposers are.
It evolved this way. In nature vast amounts of annual carbon are
deposited underground, in shed cells of tunneling roothairs. A single
rye plant has 7 miles of roothairs measured by tedious counting --
trees have much more. The subterranean carbon reaches measurements of
50 times atmospheric CO2. Much of this will dissolve into water and
become carbonic acid that will etch rocks, sometimes dissolving
limestone caverns of great beauty like Carlsbad. Living trees deposit
40% of their photosynthesis underground, never seen. The annual
production of carbon below ground is close to the visible production
seen above ground.

Living trees are far more efficient carbonizers of the subsoil than
deadwood. Much of the aboveground carbon is returned to the atmosphere
every year, but very little of the belowground carbon sees the light
of day within a century.
> > Recent experiments with forest fertilization have shown that forests are 
> > nitrogen limited.  Interestingly, closed canopy forests are incredibly 
> > adept at recycling nitrogen.  One application of 160 lbs of nitrogen per 
> > acre will result in measurably accelerated growth for several years.

The whole world is nitrogen limited, in the sense that there is some
finite quantity. Ecology involves a whole array of species and
transitions. Grasses and herbs colonize the meadows and clearings,
followed by fast invading bushes and trees, replaced by the
slow-but-sure climax forest. The nitrogen availability varies from
square-foot to square-foot. Even the rocks get colonized by lichens
that take their Nitrogen out of the air. The phrase "nitrogen-limited"
has so much ambiguity that it is meaningless unless further qualified.

Serious quantities of a class of soil fungi/bacteria known as
actinomycetes possess the reserve ability to fix nitrogen from the air
when it is otherwise deplete. In some cases they form root nodules
with their favorite trees similar to legume-symbiot bacteria.
Discounting the microbial activity of the soil is to disregard more
than 50% of the biomass of the forest. There are more pounds of flesh
underground than above it. Discounting the nitrogen-fixing power of
that discounted biomass is just plum ignorance.
> Yes. One of the benefits of fire is the nitrogen release - the initial
> flush of growth after a fire is due in large part to the nitrification
> process that occurs after a fire.

Actually, I believe it might be possible to construct an experiment
where all the other nutrients are delivered EXCEPT excluding Nitrogen,
and you will see the exact same flush.

Liebig's law: whatsoever is the most-limiting nutrient will be the
dominent factor in limiting biomass formation. Nitrogen is often the
most limiting nutrient, but whatever is next in scarcity then controls
biomass formation.

The potash ("pot ash" as our grandparents knew it) or potasium is made
availabe in greater relative abundance, but a lot of nitrogen is
aerosolized and lost by the temperatures of forest fires.

One would suppose that the biomass created by fire debris would not be
greater than the amount that was present prior to the fire. In other
words, the building blocks of life have in no way been increased by
heat treatment. No "alchemy" or transmution here.

The discussion, as always, has been built around the focus of how to
we discount every value of living forests to justify deliving more
lumber profits of political campaign donors pockets. It is particulary
shabby science being selectively introduced for no other purpose than
to deceive others into supporting this agenda. This is not solely a
"republican" agenda, as democrats do the same damnable thin in their
turn in power. It is a perversion of science.

It would be preferable if you just came out and said "hey, lets steal
everything from our grandkids and have a big ole party while the
profits last, which hopefully won't run out until the day I'm on my
deathbed" and see if you can get people to back that agenda. If not,
give it up, because SCIENCE COP is going to bust your nuts if you use
fake science to further THAT agenda. Cappish?

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