was Trees cut down in Kvitfjell ski area. Why?

Eugene N. Miya eugene at wilbur.nas.nasa.gov
Fri Mar 11 21:37:01 EST 1994


In article <2lit02$dqt at nic.lth.se> sundinKC at dna.lth.se (Anders Sundin) writes:
>Maybe you could give me a couple of examples of what plants "just don't
>grow back" in the conifer belt. All plants I know of do grow back if
>given the right conditions. This means that as long as we don't drain
>wetlands and maintain a variety of plants of different ages in mixed
>populations (e.g. broad leaf trees among the conifers) then things will
>grow back.

Sure, a quickly, I had dinner with a couple botanist friends from UC
Berkeley and Stanford.  I am not as well versed in coniferous regions as
they are: from tropical regions I would suggest Eight Bottle Palms or
a Hyophorbe amaricaulis (of which only one plant exists).
I am not nearly concern about the ski area as just the general attitude
exhibited by the one poster about biology.

One of the friends wrote (based on discussion):
|        Many trees (and tundra plants) do not respond well to being planted
|by people.  In fact, virtually all of the forest service replanting
|efforts, after cutting, have a very low success rate.  In that case, it is
|probably not that the plants won't grow in pots, but that once they are
|planted in the field, no-one waters them, and often they are a bit damaged
|in the planting process.  Natural regeneration is always much more
|successful, but if you clear-cut, there often is an insufficient seed
|source for regeneration.  Many of the tundra species are slow to regenerate
|even in nature, because of the harsh conditions, and I certainly haven't
|had much luck transplanting some of the evergreen species (Ledum palustre
|ssp decumbens and Vaccinium vitis-idaea) for my respiration experiment.  
|        Moreover, aside from that issue, monocultures of anything have a
|host of problems associated with them; they are much more susceptible to
|insect outbreaks or diseases, because there are no other types of resistant
|tree species that would slow down the spread of disease from one
|susceptible individual to another (eg pine mixed in with spruce and fir),
|and because there is generally less genetic diversity among the trees of
|the same species (hence differing levels of disease resistance within the
|species).  In addition, because all of the trees are the same age, there is
|less diversity in understory vegetation, which impacts wildlife and
|birdlife.  Also, the trees are more susceptible to blowdown if any of them
|are cut, etc., etc.  And, the soil is much more likely to lose nutrients
|into the groundwater after a cut, if all the trees are the same age and you
|cut them all at once.  Repeated many times, this can lead to degradation of
|the site, so that it won't support trees any more.  Overall, the whole
|ecosystem is less resilient to changes in environmental conditions (eg
|especially hard winters, summer drought, global climate change) if it is a
|monoculture than it is if the biomass is composed of many species, many age
|classes of each species.  Any more questions?

>Real environmentalists and ecologists don't jump ten feet high just
>because they happened to see a clearing on a hillside when watching
>the Winter Olympics.

True.  Small peanuts.

>However, I do agree with you that it is important to make the
>forestry industry responsible for the ecological balance and
>for maintaining a multitude of biotopes.
>
>And I do agree that it would be interesting to hear the professional
>biologists opinions on this.

Above.

>-Anders

Previous message and reply by Anders removed for space.

Gone skiing.  Edit Followups as needed.

--eugene miya, NASA Ames Research Center, eugene at orville.nas.nasa.gov
  Resident Cynic, Rock of Ages Home for Retired Hackers
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