Tag Archives: Forest

Four ways to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises simultaneously

A landmark report by the world’s most senior climate and biodiversity scientists argues that the world will have to tackle the climate crisis and the species extinction crisis simultaneously, or not at all.

That’s because Earth’s land and ocean already absorbs about half of the greenhouse gases that people emit. Wild animals, plants, fungi and microbes help maintain this carbon sink by keeping soils, forests and other ecosystems healthy.

Failing to tackle climate change meanwhile will accelerate biodiversity loss, as higher temperatures and changing rainfall patterns make survival for many species more difficult. Both problems are intertwined, and so solutions to one which exacerbate the other are doomed to fail.

Luckily, there are options for addressing climate change and biodiversity loss together, called nature-based solutions. If implemented properly, these measures can enhance the richness and diversity of life on Earth, help habitats store more carbon and even reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, making ecosystems more resilient while slowing the rate at which the planet warms.

1. Protect and restore ecosystems

Everyone is familiar with the need to preserve tropical rainforests, but there are other pristine habitats, on land and in the ocean, which are in dire need of protection.

Mangrove swamps occupy less than 1% of Earth’s surface, but store the equivalent of 22 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. That’s around two-thirds of total emissions from burning fossil fuels each year. These coastal habitats act as a home, nursery, and feeding ground for numerous species. More than 40 bird, ten reptile and six mammal species are only found in mangroves.

Under the canopy in a tropical mangrove forest.
Mangroves are particularly good at storing carbon. Velavan K/Shutterstock

Peatlands – those soggy ecosystems which include bogs, marshes and fens – store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests. The top 15cm stores more carbon below ground than tropical rainforests do above ground. In the UK, peatlands store the equivalent of ten billion tonnes of carbon dioxide and host precious plant and animals such as red grouse, mountain hares and marsh earwort.

Unfortunately, more than 80% of the UK’s peatlands are degraded in some way. A single hectare of damaged peatland can emit more than 30 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – equivalent to the yearly emissions of seven family cars.

Protecting these ecosystems can prevent carbon being released into the atmosphere. Restoring them where they’ve been damaged can suck carbon dioxide from the air and guarantee shelter for rare wildlife. Diverse natural systems also bounce back better from climate extremes than do species-poor, highly degraded systems, and will keep helping biodiversity and people even as Earth continues to warm.

2. Manage farmland and fisheries sustainably

Not all of the world’s land and ocean can be left to nature, but the land and ocean people use to produce food and other resources can be managed better.

People currently use about 25% of the planet’s land surface for growing food, extracting resources and living. The global food system contributes one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Methods of farming – such as agroecology, which involves incorporating trees and habitats within farm fields – and sustainable fishing practices can protect and regenerate topsoil and seabed habitats, boosting biodiversity and improving how resilient these ecosystems are to climate change.

Rows of vegetable beds with lines of young trees.
Reforestation in tandem with food growing: lettuce, cauliflowers and tomatoes grow among saplings in Brazil. Luisaazara/Shutterstock

3. Create new forests – with care

People have already cut down three trillion trees – half of all the trees which once grew on Earth.

Creating new woodlands and forests can draw down atmospheric carbon and provide diverse habitats for a range of species, but great care must be taken to plant the right mix of trees in the right place. Vast plantations of non-native trees, particularly when they’re a single species, offer less useful habitat for wildlife, but a mix of native trees can benefit biodiversity and store more carbon in the long run.

A study in south-east China showed that forests containing several tree species stored twice as much carbon as the average single-species plantation.

We can do the same thing in the ocean by restoring seagrass meadows.

4. Shift to more plant-based diets

Globally, animal agriculture is a major contributor to biodiversity loss. Millions of hectares of Amazon rainforest, African Savanna and Central Asian grassland have been ploughed up to create pasture and plant feed crops for the cows, pigs and chickens that we eat. Nearly 60% of all planet-warming emissions from food production originate in livestock rearing.

Reducing demand for meat and dairy, through diet changes and cutting waste, would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions – which itself benefits biodiversity by limiting climate change – it would also lower pressure for farmland and so reduce deforestation and habitat destruction, freeing more land for the wider use of nature-based solutions.

A vegan burger with a side of sweet potato fries.
A vegan diet is better for wildlife and the climate than a high-meat one. Rolande PG/Unsplash, CC BY-SA

Meat, especially highly processed meat, has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and bowel and stomach cancer. Plant-based diets are healthier, reduce healthcare costs and reduce carbon emissions.

A note of caution

It’s important to remember that nature-based solutions aren’t a substitute for the rapid phase out of fossil fuels. They should involve a wide range of ecosystems on land and in the sea, not just forests. Wherever they’re implemented, nature-based solutions must proceed with the full engagement and consent of Indigenous peoples and local communities, respecting their cultural and ecological rights. And nature-based solutions should be explicitly designed to provide measurable benefits for biodiversity – not just carbon sequestration.

With all this in mind, the world can design robust and resilient solutions for the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, sustaining nature and people together, now and into the future.

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About the authors:

Pete Smith currently receives research funding from UKRI, EU, Wellcome Trust and Scottish Government. He is on the science advisory team for Carbon Direct (https://carbon-direct.com/).

Mark Maslin is a Founding Director of Rezatec Ltd, Co-Director of The London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, a member of Cheltenham Science Festival Advisory Committee and a member of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group. He is an unpaid member of the Sopra-Steria CSR Board and Sheep Included Ltd Advisory Board. He has received grant funding in the past from the NERC, EPSRC, ESRC, DFG, Royal Society, DIFD, BEIS, DECC, FCO, Innovate UK, Carbon Trust, UK Space Agency, European Space Agency, Research England, Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust, The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation Sprint2020, and British Council. He has received research funding in the past from The Lancet, Laithwaites, Seventh Generation, Channel 4, JLT Re, WWF, Hermes, CAFOD, HP, and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Camille Parmesan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Paul Noël his writings and thoughts

Paul Noël or Paul Paddington when he was at school and as a teenager he promised his English teacher that he would one day write a book.

After studying he landed up in the IT, not exactly a place where books are written. Many years later he spent a lot of time travelling around South America with his partner and during the eight and half months there they sat on long-distance coaches quite a number of times. As part of this round the world trip once they left South America they spent Christmas and New Year in New Zealand and the time and the experience there are what kicked off the ideas for writing stories for children.

So, after completing a one year away travelling experience it was back to work for him. In his spare time he tried to get all the publishers in the Writers and Artists Yearbook interested in his work but rejection was one hundred percent. He basically gave up or was too busy and did not notice the huge growth of the wonderful Kindle Direct Platform allowing everyone to easily publish their ideas.

Then in February of 2018 he was made redundant after having worked at the same company for him to polish his stories and get them published on Amazon.

Next to writing stories he also publishes a blog. In his opinion the planet is in a very bad state and we have only got ourselves, the human primate, to blame. He writes

To get out of this mess we would need a species level mindset change and that would take some inspired leaders. Unfortunately, taking a look around, there are not many of those. {The wooden elephants have moved, London}

Perhaps the only way that we will see elephants in the future unless we stop senselessly killing them and encroaching on their land. Something that would involve curbing and stabilising human population growth. Taking things a step further we must hope that living trees weren’t chopped down to make the elephants.{Wooden Elephants, The Mall, London}

He also looks at places around his neighbourhood. He also notices how trees got damaged. He finds trees amazing, and

a crucial part of the life support systems that sustain all other life including the human primate. It’s a shame that we are such dumb monkeys and cut down and burn so many of them. {Battered tree, Hyde Park, London}

And he remarks:

Hyde Park of course is very managed and in normal woodland and forests the ground would not be manicured as it is here. The fallen trees would be a source of food for so many other forms of life.

Trees are amazing, a crucial part of the life support systems that sustain all other life including the human primate. It’s a shame that we are such dumb monkeys and cut down and burn so many of them. {Fallen giants lying at the feet of living giants, Hyde Park, London}

> Books By Paul Noël

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The Enchanted Forest

In these days of lockdown having so much less traffic that even the animals do not know any more where to find it, whilst more people having to stay at home or around their house went walking and perhaps (re)discovering nature.

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Not far from sight,
Lies a forest I’ve never seen
The trees and the bushes
Glimmeringly green

I take tiny steps
As I walk into the mist
To a world of enchantment
That I never knew could exist

The day has begun
With the sun wide awake
The endearing tweeting of birds
The dawn chorus they create

Sweet-scented berries
Giving a delectable forest scent
Squirrels scampering down trees
To try some of them

Cheerful rabbits
With their fur, snow white
With their tiny pink noses
They frolic in delight

I pick up a flower
With a silky white petal
It’s alluring fragrance
Leaves me in an Elysian fettle

Behind a lush tree
Of a juicy blue berry
Lies a jewel-clear river,
A world of faery

Not a speck of dust
Seen in the pristine blue tint
The scintillating sun kissed water
Giving out its gorgeous golden glint

It burbles all…

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What Did We Do?

Source of Inspiration

deforestation

Not even night
brings relief from the heat.
What have we done
when pools boil
in lands where
forests have been slain?

Climates gone haywire
ice caps melting
waves of water wash
life away, pollution the norm.
What have we done?

Across the globe, people
gather to find solutions
to the destruction greed
has caused. Join their voice
start the change wherever you live.
Plant a tree, save water
stop buying that which
contributes to the loss
of this earth’s resources.
Each of us can make a difference.

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The Forest

Though being 5 over 12 it is not too late to change our behaviour and to call a halt to the destructive power of man’s greed.

Source of Inspiration

sequoias

Is the forest filled
with trees of danger and despair
or a haven of birds
unicorns and devas?

Cut down the forest
sell the wood to the devil
who feeds on our greed and fear.
Clear the underbrush
wherein lurks temptation
prepare the land for
sand dunes of ruin.

Once our lands
were filled with mighty
forests home to beast and beauty
now asphalt heats
boiling putrid waters filled
with industrial wastes
people drowning in chemicals
and death, dwindling to a
trickle of despair.

Is it too late to change
how the story ends?
Too late to fill the land
with joyous song again?
No, but we must act now
to stop this tale of greed.
We must stand together
say, “no more!” then
act swiftly to save humanity.

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Sensitive trees for insensitive man

even, dense and old stand of beech trees (Fagu...

even, dense and old stand of beech trees (Fagus sylvatica) prepared to be regenerated (watch the young trees underneath the old ones) in the Brussels part of the Sonian Forest (Forêt de Soignes – Zoniënwoud) in Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For years already, I claim we should treat plants and animals as subjects but also as living beings created by the Divine Creator, who has given them for our use but not mis-use or maltreatment. I always claimed they too have feelings and ways of communicating. In the 1970ies I followed many scientists who tried to proof and did proof how plants also have feelings and communicate with each other.

Though at regular times people seem to be reminded of it. Because too often man forgets that he is not alone having feelings and able to communicate with others of their own sort properly.

It is long known to biologists that trees in the forest are social beings. They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbours; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots.

The German Peter Wohlleben studied forestry and spent over twenty years as a civil servant in the forestry commission. For him trees are his life and for that reason he also gave up his job by the state forestry because he wanted to put his ideas of ecology into practice. He now runs an environmentally friendly municipal piece of woodland in the village of Huemmel, holds lectures and seminars and has written books on subjects pertaining to woodlands and nature protection so those interested can accompany him through the forests of his homeland and the whole world.

The Hidden Life of Trees describes how trees are like human families. We as human beings only think of ourselves being able to make a nice family, though many make a mess of it, and when watching Danish television series I even wonder if there are normal Danish people walking around in the North, who can have a normal family life. In the series we come to see they all seem to be unfaithful.
In nature we see better build ups. Tree parents living together with their children, communicating with them, and supporting them as they grow, sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warning each other of impending dangers. With their newfound understanding of the delightfully complex life of trees, readers will never be able to look at a walk.
English: The deep dark forest One of the track...

The deep dark forest One of the tracks through Pantmaenog Forest. There are prehistoric tumuli marked on the map here but they are difficult to find among the dense conifers. The trees here were planted after Bellstone quarry closed in 1908 and some of the old quarry workings are also concealed by the forest: human beings making their mark on the landscape in a variety of ways. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since it first topped best-seller lists last year, Mr. Wohlleben has been spending more time on the media trail and less on the forest variety, making the case for a popular reimagination of trees, which, he says, contemporary society tends to look at as “organic robots” designed to produce oxygen and wood.

Though duly impressed with Mr. Wohlleben’s ability to capture the public’s attention, some German biologists question his use of words, like “talk” rather than the more standard “communicate,” to describe what goes on between trees in the forest. But no matter how you want to call that communication we should come to understand that it is really communicating, no matter if you want to call it talking or something else.
It is also different with human beings who think they communicate and are on social media, thinking they have so many friends, but in reality do not have many friends nor comrades and do not really have any real communication going on between all those people. We did not mind to run around in that what God had created us and did not have to hide anything for others, always able to keep faithful to the one we loved and where we choose for. But to day they want to shine and glitter in fashion clothes but are fast to take those cloths of in the hidden to do things we would have found inappropriate when there was not a strong connection with each other. But to day they seem to change of girl like they change of underpants, and often there is not much conversation going on and lots of time it is just a one night stand with no further communication at all. They have become worse than animals. (Are am I looking at it too pessimistic?)
Whilst I do believe those trees have much more communication going on than their human counterparts who are not afraid to kill more and more of those air-cleaners, not seeing that they are polluting more and more their own environment, making it poorer and poorer. Even those Germans who are reputed to have a special relationship with the forest are a kind of a cliché and it can well be that those Germans do not love their forest more than Swedes or Norwegians or Finns.
When I lived and worked in Germany, for relaxation I went into the woods around Köln and went swimming in open air. Then I could encounter many like minded nature lovers who wanted to be one with it and, like me searched for ways to respect it and to make properly use of feeding us in a clean and appropriate way. No chemicals, no additives, all pure whole grain and pure natural food.

Young musicians living in a shared community in Amsterdam.

Though when I look at how enthusiast we where in the 196070ies and had so many dreams, being called ‘flower power‘ people, many not understanding our idea of sharing and love and making a collective community, kibbutz or commune, many of them have gone far away from their idealism and the last few months we see many things we fought for, being undone in a very short time.

Though might we see somewhere some light shining in the dark, perhaps getting back some younger ones again being interested in nature and how we should behave in it? Can it be that there are again seeds planted for people willing to reconsider our human behaviour in the big universe?
For sure it is high time that people are going to understand the need of forests and green spaces around our busy roads and living estates. Yesterday it was again on the news that in the Kempen 122 ha of woods has to be offered for sand-winning, as if it is nothing. Man also thinks it is alright to artificially space out trees, but forget that shall not give the same intensification as wooded areas. The plantation forests that make up most of West Europe’s woods ensure that trees get more sunlight and grow faster. But, naturalists say, creating too much space between trees can disconnect them from their networks, stymieing some of their inborn resilience mechanisms.

Intrigued, Mr. Wohlleben began investigating alternate approaches to forestry. Visiting a handful of private forests in Switzerland and Germany, he was impressed.

“They had really thick, old trees,”

he said.

“They treated their forest much more lovingly, and the wood they produced was more valuable. In one forest, they said, when they wanted to buy a car, they cut two trees. For us, at the time, two trees would buy you a pizza.”

But where are all those very thick trees gone, I wonder. In Belgium some years ago you could find also many places where you could enjoy the view of masterly or kingly majestic trees. The last two years , in the region where I live now (Leefdaal, Flemish Brabant), we have seen hundreds of trees being cut and not replaced.

English: Deep in the forest something stirred ...

Deep in the forest something stirred Go Ape, a series of aerial walkways, swings and zip slides in the forestry land north of Aberfoyle. Note – human beings included for a sense of scale. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mr Wohlleben had also difficulties with the ministry of forestry but it turned out that Mr. Wohlleben had won over the forest’s municipal owners. 10 years ago, the municipality took a chance. It ended its contract with the state forestry administration, and hired Mr. Wohlleben directly. He brought in horses, eliminated insecticides and began experimenting with letting the woods grow wilder. Within two years, the forest went from loss to profit, in part by eliminating expensive machinery and chemicals.

We should enjoy those trees going to grow in all sorts of shapes, creating all sorts of designs in the air. When we look at ourselves, we should see that we also do not have a life going in straight lines. We also not all grow up straight. Why should trees have to grow up in those particular straight lines indicated by people in the office. The same as the right 25 cm cucumbers, the bananas with the drawn out moon shape, the tomatoes and apples which may not be too big or flat… everything should be according to the book and numbers indicated,  … but life is not according the book of man … but should be according the Book of life …. with not everything exactly the same, and not always according to the books of man….
When is man going to see we should come back to being close to nature and to be part of nature again? And when is he going to understand we do need much more green around us … to have a colourful life full of health and joy?
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Please also find to read:

  1. World Agenda for Sustainability
  2. Welfare state and Poverty in Flanders #1 Up to 21st century
  3. 2nd Half 20th Century Generations pressure to achieve

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