Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Peddling of "Pulp Fiction" - Dirty Secret Behind Sustainable Forestry

Don't you just love definition shell games - "Retention Forestry"

credit: National Geographic
Not seeing the Forest through the Swe-Tree. It's incredible what the official listing of a forest is around the globe by the United Nations. 10s of 1000s of acres of GMO Tree Plantations are considered a real Forest. Actually some may even call this practice of leaving some trees in place after slaughtering and obliterating the landscape of almost 90 percent of it trees as something called "Retention Forestry", which in my view is nothing more than them applying salve to their own conscience in an attempt at convincing themselves that they are being responsible. It's also good Company public relations for damage control and presenting an image bolster public opinion who have otherwise become more and more critical of the disastrous ecological effects of Industrial Forestry. The above Redwood Giant in the above photo was spared, but I guarantee you it wasn't left because of wanting to help preserve wildlife habitat through the practice of Retention Forestry. Take a look at that trunk and those imperfections from some damage perhaps centuries earlier when it was younger. No doubt this giant has heart rot. This is not uncommon in old growth forests and is not necessarily bad as the tree may live on centuries more and provide great wildlife habitat. But most likely, it's being untouched had more to do with  it's being worthlessness in terms of it's potential economic value to the landowner, but hey, it's still great public relations for pulling the green wool over people's eyes. You might say it's kind of like those old Chevron - "People Do" Ads. 

Recently however, there was a paper published on this very subject and the above mentioned dimension of working in cooperation with nature by leaving a few trees behind for wildlife. It focused on that same aspect labeled as 'Retention Forestry' , which attempts to publicize itself as a far more responsible modern industrial forestry as compared to it's old time clear-cutting ancestors from the past which are now painted as Neanderthal by comparison to their much more sophisticated enlightened descendants. The author and team leader of the study is Dr Roberge from the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), called for studies addressing the cost-effectiveness of different retention and Agroforestry systems in relation to biodiversity conservation. Here is a short view of that paper and the link to the actual study and this will be followed by the an photo they published as an example of what they consider to be a responsible Retention Forestry (the new cloak for Industrial Forestry):
"It is increasingly recognized that protected areas alone are not sufficient for successful biodiversity conservation, and that management of production areas (e.g. forestry and agricultural land) plays a crucial role in that respect. Retention Forestry and Agroforestry are two land management systems aiming to reconcile the production of human goods with biodiversity conservation." 
"The retention forestry model is, as the name suggests, based on retaining some of the local forest structures when harvesting trees in an attempt to preserve local biodiversity. Agroforestry addresses this need through the intentional management of shade trees alongside agricultural crops. Despite the technical differences, both systems provide an intermediary between unlogged forest and intensively managed land. A paper recently published in the open access journal Nature Conservation, draws an important parallel between the two systems."
"From a conservation point of view, both retention forestry and agroforestry are expected to provide a variety of ecological benefits, such as the maintenance and restoration of ecosystem heterogeneity. They also provide habitat for tree-dependent species outside the forest as well as increased connectivity for forest species within landscapes. Moreover, both systems minimize some of the off-site impacts of management. In spite of some inherent differences between the two systems, the large number of similarities suggests that both would benefit from a bridging of scientific and practical experiences." 
(Source)Retention forestry and biodiversity conservation: a parallel with agroforestry

photo credit: Science Daily
The photograph to the left is being offered in this paper as a prime example of responsible Retention Forestry. The reality however is that this depiction is rather generous as to what I've personally seen practiced out in the field. I actually know this for a fact from making several runs back and forth up north for various reasons. Actually, I have traveled extensively along Swedish Highways and other motorways and have never seen such a healthy mix as referenced the above picture attempts to propagate. What I generally see being left behind are worthless (from an economic viewpoint) trees like stunted and crooked Björk(Birch) trees which were not wanted anyway. Very few conifers do I see. Just lousy flimsy snags.

Nothing lives inside an industrial forest
except mythology
The idea is of course that leaving some trees helps out wildlife. Okay, that would certainly make some sense on the surface. But the problem is, there is really not that much wildlife left in and around these Industrial Forests in the first place. I have already pointed this out months ago last year in an article where I wrote about  all of Europe's Industrial Forestry, not only here in Sweden and elsewhere in Scandinavia, but all of Europe.  When Ideology Becomes Nature  If anything, what remains of any wildlife(birds, Moose, Elk, Deer, Lynx, wolves, Bears etc) mostly or likely lives on the margins or fringes of these dead corridors. As I pointed out before, nothing lives inside these dark dank dead zones. Even mosses and lichens which generally explosive in growth and colonization in healthy forests are non-existent here in the Industrial Settings. Sometimes later when they do thinning of trees do some things green up a bit. But there is clearly something more sinister inside these industrial forests than the mere overgrown density of an agricultural money crop. I got a clue that something was wrong with modern Industrial Forestry back in 2005 when my future wife came out to visit me in Southern California in January 2005. During that month of January, Southern Sweden was slammed by a type of northern European Storm that could only be described as a type of Hurricane. Millions of trees in the vast Industrial Forest complex easily fell over. This natural disaster was all over the News. My future wife and her two kids who were visiting me in San Diego, California in January 2005 and escaped that experience. But the devastation was huge and it was enhanced and made more further complicated by the fact that these were human genetically manipulated inferior trees which were engineered to grow fast, utilizing man-made fertilizers, having less of a root structure than normal and also the fact that they were engineered to have less lignin in their woody tissues which benefits another industrial entity here and that is the Paper Mill. Below is a link to that destructive "Gudrun" storm and a gallery of photos which document just how destructive this thing was.
Storm “Gudrun” and the Swedish Forest (2005)

Photo Credit: Chalmer's University Göteborg

The photos side by side above are obvious before and after photos. The storm was devastating and spared nothing. It's description from overseas when I was still in San Diego California was like that of a Hurricane. People in the southern area of Sweden called Skåne were without power for w few weeks from what I was told.

Not all the storm victims blew over from a smaller weaker root system. Often the weaker wood as a result of the less lignin content, caused the trees to simply snap in half. 

Salvage Logging Operations. They only harvested a fraction of what actually existed of the fallen down trees.  Evidently, Beetles got the rest of them which made the wood worthless. Still, what a horrible loss. so much so that some land owners (Farmers) committed suicide because their whole livelihood was based on those crops of Forest trees.

credit: Tales of a Young Mamma blog
The real catastrophe here was not so much the storm and the catastrophic aftermath that resulted, but the genetically engineered GMO trees themselves and there are a number of species of trees which have been ruined by this technology here. I have spoken with older Swedes here who have said that trees never use to fall down before, even in the heaviest of wind storms. Even in mild storms, a good number of these trees will easily fall over as the photos below indicate and I have photographed many as well. The main fault can be put on the weaker GMO wood created for the paper pulp industry. There is little strength. Even the wood many purchase for wintertime wood burning stoves or to be inserted into the disposable BBQ Grills above here illustrate just how valueless the wood actually is. It burns like match sticks or twigs very rapidly, maybe even paper. Don't even plan on a slow cook BBQ. There is no longer any slow burn qualities about the wood, even for the home or Cabin wood burning stove as those older hardwood traits have been engineered out of the tree. These trees have been engineered to grow fast and more rapidly just like any other farm crop. The other goal of course is faster growing pulpwood trees for the paper industry. The goal is 20 years or less and old growth is not the object. They are not interested in lumber. Mostly they are looking to harvest pulpwood matchsticks like those below.

The world is fast losing it's once vast resources and the resulting global ruination by Wars and man made or enhanced Natural disasters have made raw materials much more hard to come by and more expensive. This is where Biotech companies like  SweTree  and  ArborGen  come in. In their minds ONLY THEY have the answers for the Earth's problem. The true reality is they are exacerbating them. The excuses and spin on the Gundrun Storm were that the trees that fell were Fir and Pine species and they are not known having the deep roots like other trees. True, when younger, these trees do have shallower root systems and especially when grown without the protection of accompanying other different tree or shrub species, but that is why many of them develop more slowly within a canopy of other trees. In the wild, most firs (like Maples) actually develop better inside already existing forest canopies. Their tolerance of shade is much greater than other tree species and they acquire their nutrition from the root and mycorrhizal network infrastructure already established, but eventually they will take over. Long dead now, Austrian Forester and Naturalist Viktor Schauberger was right on the money when he expressed outrage at forcing trees to grow too quickly. They need slower growth, especially the first years when developing their own engineered infrastructure to carry them through later life. Industrial Forestry & GMO Companies have no such patience and neither do the end users of their wares.  In the west of North America this is also true of pines having shallow roots in the beginning, but they have the underground infrastructure support of the chaparral plant community to actually support them physically and nutritionally. When older and certainly when they have been allowed to age into an old growth forest setting, the situation is much different. The roots are by that time long well established with many sinker roots which have developed from the lateral or horizontal branching feeder roots. Take a look below at some of the trunks snapped like twigs and the pathetic root infrastructures of the blown over trees from that Gundrun Storm.


Pathetic lack of good development of good strong root structure is what is wrong here. True, Spruce, Firs, and Pines are not as deeper rooted as Oaks and other trees, but such roots would have held and made deeper soil intrusions had the been a normal growth tree. Trees need to grow slower than the demands of industrial forestry will allow. Even Austrian Forester Viktor Schauberger pointed this out back in the 1940s and no one listened then. Of course War efforts demand resources, another wonderful achievement mankind has made scientific advancement with. 

How do large trees snap in half like twigs ?  True, there have been such storms flattening of forests by comet blasts or volcanic eruptions in instantaneous disaster scenarios, but this was different. The wood is genetically engineered to be much weaker for a specific pulpwood money making purpose. Making better pulp for paper mills (another environmental killer). The ever present danger of course is that these degenerative traits get out into wild forested ecosystems and then collapse becomes totally complete. Other tree species such as Birch and members of the Populus family like Aspen are having their genetics manipulated and messed with as well. These GMO companies insist they will not be allowed to flower and pollinate the wild. Anyone out there familiar with tree species from the Populus family and the many ways they actually propagate themselves ? The spin is pathetic. Aside from the problems of the deliberate genetically altering of  lignin content for much weaker wood, many GMO Trees are also engineered for killing insects. Like any of the conventionally cultivated crops, the Industrial Forester, insects are perceived as evil and need to be dealt a deadly lethal blow as permanently as possible. Traits engineered into many GMO Trees are for it's foliage to be lethal if insects attempt to feed on the tree. In the case of many forest crop trees of course there is always the ever present problem with many differing species of Bark Beetles. That makes sense because even in healthy old growth forests, Beetles play roles within the system to recycle any sickly trees from the system. It's just that their numbers are kept in check and balance. 

But the other big problem is that when these needles or leaves drop to the forest floor, they are lethal to not only other critters that would normally feed and break them down to be recycled into the soil to be reused by the Trees, but also lethal to the underground biological microscopic organisms like beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizal. This was even published last April 2012 on the subject of GMO Corn and the damaging effects related to mycorrhiza colonization of roots from the article: Genetically modified corn affects its symbiotic relationship with non-target soil organisms  Forest symbiotic relationships with mycorrhizal fungi have been going on for perhaps 10s of 1000s of years maybe longer, but it's they main mechanism or machinery that allows life to operate there by feeding trees what they desperately need nutritionally. You also may not realize or know of this, but many giant Industrial Forest complexes have to be fed inorganic high nitrogen fertilizers because the normal biological functions of a forest floor feeding normal trees in a forest doesn't exist and beside, remember that these trees were needed yesterday, not decades or centuries from now. Hence anything to accelerate rapid growth rates are necessary if the farmer wants to see a quick profit. But the trees do have to be fed artificially nevertheless. That is why most of the forest floors I've posted photos of in the past are so dead and lifeless under the canopy. If there were any symbiosis going on, the intro of chemicals for feeding these trees would have caused detachment  and killed these organisms long ago. So much for being EcoGreen.

credit: Tunza Eco Generation
Certainly such feeding and fertilizing programs also offer other valuable repeat purchasing profit opportunities from customers for the large corporations which manufacture them. Creating and selling millions of trees is generally only the beginning. SweTree  claims to have the answer alternative to spreading inorganic chemicals on the forest floor. Their solution is for customers(farmers) to purchase their version of organics in the name brand of  arGrow® fertilizers  . Still this is a far cry from the way the natural processes of a forested ecosystem actually operate. This was another one of those interesting little details I discovered on my first ever trip to Sweden in 2004. I traveled to the country with my future wife and friends to a little farm house one of her friend's husband's inherited. We drove out into the country to picnic and swim next to a lake. What amazed me was the degenerate looking cancerous algal growth throughout the water, even right in the middle of the lake. Of course some of the spin for this is blamed on other industrial countries in Europe, not Sweden.

Swedish University of
Agricultural Sciences
A measure of this could be true, but I'm not referring to Acid Rain, but on the lake and river pollution front, I'm talking excessive amounts of nitrogen & phosphorus being leached into the system from these unnatural forests. I'm talking about massive amounts of chemicals being spread by tractors and eventually on massive tracts of land by Helicopter. I'll provide a gallery of Scandinavian Fertilization technology at the end. It's disgusting to say the least. The spin given for the brown coloured water and large amounts of Algal growth in Swedish waters is that it's proof that it is clean and natural. I'm told if it were really polluted, such things would NOT grow in these waters and it would be clear. Seriously, I've been told that. Yes, it has zero to do with the above picture of a Swedish Crop dusting operation dumping millions of tons of chemicals on wild landscape. Truly Unbelievable.
The only other place in the world I had ever seen this type of dirty gray brown algal growth was in Independence Iowa when last visited in 2001. There is a small dam built on the Wapsipinicon River which created a shallow, but large lake to operate an old water powered grain milling operation run in the old days. I remember the conversation I had with a cousin and how much more pure and clean the water use to be when I first visited back in 1970. It's true, that river among others, along with every lake, pond, stream and creek were crystal clear. It's not that way today. He said Farmers have had to use more and more chemical fertilizers to get better and better yields like they use to decades ago. The extreme algae growth is caused by the excessive amounts of chemicals leaching into the water table and coming to the surface through underground springs creating in creeks, streams rivers and lakes which creates this abnormal looking charcoal gray-brown cancerous looking algae. It's a serious turn off and you definitely don't want to swim in it. It's nothing like sea or lake weed, nor any other pretty green algae you see in clear streams of summertime. Still, I found it bizarre that this junk would be growing out here in the middle of nowhere in all these country Swedish lakes for which there is hardly any conventional agricultural farming of crops which would account for just such a pollution. Why, everything all around is forest, but just not natural forest. It wasn't till later I found out how such forests have to be fed artificially. In a way it was a shock considering the usual P.R. about the Eco-Greenness propagated about this place over here. But seriously, when it comes to economics, why should they be any different than any other country on Earth. Clearly, materialism comes before principle.

What else is there to say. Apparently there are plans for ArborGen to introduce it's GMO Eucalyptus Trees into the southeastern United States as part of a Bio-Fuels (another bad science idea) project for U.S. fuel needs. This info has actually been out for a while now, but here is a link anyway:  
Scientific American: "Genetically Modified Forest Planned for U.S. Southeast"    
Now take a look at some photographs of an unnatural world I never ever thought that I would possibly see in my lifetime. This is how industrial tree plantation are fertilized by helicopter of plane to speed up growth to harvest.

Image - UPM's Stakeholder Magazine
Biofore - Finnish Industrial Plantation Forestry
Many methods are by helicopter with a large bucket with oscilating blades which shoot the synthetic pellets over large distances over the tops of the tree canopy. You most likely familir with the concept if you have ever fertilized your lawn in such a way. It's just that Industrial Plantations need massive scale equipmnt. Can you imagine the tonage of synthetics that will be dumped and the large percent of runoff which will never make it to the trees ?

Image - Absolute Lawn Services

Above Credits are from Swedish, Finnish and the last photo is from Ireland. This junk technology is practiced everywhere globally. And the Media wonders why the planet's clean fresh water is becoming scarce !!!

Credit: Terra Daily November 2012
The above photo from Terra Daily had an article on the supposedly necessary practice of wholesale forest fertilization.  These forest it is said need to be harvested in 25 years, not 100+ years from now. Here is a quote being spun on the pimping of  making a responsible investment in Chemical Fertilization:
"Trees are generally fertilized when they are planted and again when they are between eight and 10 years of age," he said. "When the trees are 20 to 25 years old, they are considered harvestable."
"Decisions by small landowners are critical because it is estimated that 65 percent of the forests in Texas are owned by small landowners. The PineMap study will give them the tools needed to help make decisions on the best future avenues to take."
"The big issue for a small landowner is whether the land will stay in their family," he said. "They have to make an investment today that will not pay off for about 25 years. And the question is, 'Will that land still be with their children or grandchildren and so will it pay for us to make an investment in forest management?"
Source:  Forest fertilization can increase production, decrease carbon emissions
 When Ideology Becomes Nature
Storm “Gudrun” and the Swedish Forest (2005)
Genetically modified corn affects its symbiotic relationship with non-target soil organisms