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As wildfires have become increasingly common across the West, there’s been a growing emphasis on forest management as a means of preventing and mitigating the effects of blazes. Emerging science suggests that a new way of replanting forests could protect areas from fires — rather than planting trees individually, at even intervals, the US Forest Service has found that planting trees in clusters may make forests more fire-resistant.
This new method of reforestation places emphasis on spacing and variety of planted trees. As National Geographic explained, “evidence in support of this new model comes not just from California but from China, the Amazon, Europe, and elsewhere. It’s a more natural way of doing forestry, and one that also puts these experts on the front lines of a pivotal struggle to slow climate change.”
Barking Up The Wrong Tree?
Conventional wisdom suggests that trees should be planted like any other crop — evenly and densely. In the past, this may have been effective, as California tended to have frequent, lower-intensity fires that could easily be put out before they burned up too much.
But as fires have grown increasingly severe, these dense forests have dried out and become tinderboxes that could explode at any moment. Instead, spottier tree layouts have been more fire-resistant, as the pattern breaks up vegetation in such a way that when a fire passes through, some groups of trees are left intact.
This finding bucks conventional wisdom. Planting trees in even rows maximizes growth and prevents trees from competing with each other for resources. However, some worry that planting trees in clusters will prevent effective carbon sequestration.
But advocates of planting trees in clusters suggest that wildfires are the biggest threats to carbon sequestration, and persistent conflagrations will prevent saplings from growing into trees that can store carbon.
Craig Thomas, a longtime environmental activist who leads the Fire Restoration Group, a nonprofit that advocates for the use of prescribed fire, emphasized to Bloomberg the importance of finding new solutions: “Are we going to allocate this funding to practices that basically repeat the failures of the past, or are we going to bring in the best available science and scientists and do what they’re recommending? When it comes to fire, we are on the wrong side of nature.”
Many European cities are known for their impressive walls, but Madrid is taking siege protection to the next level. The city has embarked on a project to build a 75-kilometer urban forest surrounding the city, planting one million new indigenous trees. Madrid’s councilor for the environment and urban development, Mariano Fuentes, says the project will “improve the air quality in the […]
The Amazon River Basin is home to our planet’s largest rainforest: roughly the size of the forty-eight contiguous United States and covers about 40% of the South American continent. While this vast forest has traditionally been a carbon sink, for years scientists have feared that the Amazon could turn into a carbon source instead. A […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer It’s official: the Biden administration has announced it will end large-scale logging in the Tongass National Forest and restore the “roadless rule” that was previously rolled back under Trump. The administration says it will focus its efforts in the Tongass on forest restoration, recreation, and other non-commercial ventures. Officials are now celebrating the […]
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