Archive | Trees & Forestry

Forest Fire Studies May Give False Results

CORVALLIS, Ore., Feb. 1 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve determined some studies involving the impact of forest fires may have grossly overestimated the amount of carbon dioxide released.

Oregon State University researchers say some past approaches to calculating the impact of forest fires have overestimated the number of live trees that burn up and the amount of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere as a result.

The research focused on the Metolius River Watershed in the central Oregon Cascade Range, where about one-third — 100,000 acres — of the area burned in four large fires in 2002-03. Although some previous studies assumed 30 percent of the mass of living trees was consumed during the fires, the new study found only up to 3 percent burned.

Some estimates had suggested one of the Metolius fires released 600 percent more carbon emissions than all other energy and fossil fuel use during 2003 in the state of Oregon. But in the recent investigation, scientists concluded the four fires combined produced only about 2.5 percent of annual statewide carbon emissions.

“A new appreciation needs to be made of what we’re calling “pyrodiversity,’ or wide variation in fire effects and responses,” said Garrett Meigs, a research assistant in OSU’s Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. “And more studies should account for the full gradient of fire effects.”

The research appeared recently in the journal Ecosystems.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Pine Beetle Turns Trees to Carbon Emitters

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan. 10 (UPI) — Canadian researchers say the pine beetle has killed so many trees, the forests of British Columbia now put more greenhouse gases into the air than they store.

The experts say that has been true since 2003, The Toronto Globe and Mail reported Saturday. By last year, dead lodgepole pines had a bigger carbon footprint than the province’s human population.

By February 2008, when the province’s premier Gordon Campbell praised the forests as a sink for greenhouse gases, that was no longer true.

“We have few natural allies in our fight against climate change that are more important than our forests,” the Campbell government said in a policy speech.

The problem is that the carbon plants take in during their lives returns to the atmosphere when they decompose. The pine beetle has killed an estimated 1 billion trees, most of them expected to decay over the next half-century or so.

The pine beetle is native to North America, and many trees have natural defenses. But the most recent infestation in western Canada and the United States has been far more severe than previous ones, with experts blaming global warming.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Bugs, Insects, & Invertebrates, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

California Boy Charged with Arson in Wildfires

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif., Dec. 23 (UPI) — A 16-year-old boy was charged with arson Wednesday in a pair of destructive California wildfires.

Ricky Sean Lukacs was charged as adult by the San Bernardino, Calif., County District Attorney’s Office after being linked to up to 14 fires, the Victorville (Calif.) Daily Press reported.

Prosecutors allege Lukacs was responsible for starting the Aug. 30 Oak Glen fire and the Aug. 31 Pendleton fire, which together with other fires he is suspected of starting, burned about four square miles in California’s High Desert country.

The Daily Press said Lukacs is scheduled for arraignment Monday in San Bernardino County Superior Court.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Nature & Ecosystems, Office, Other, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

U.N. Climate Summit Produces Forest Saving Pact

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 16 (UPI) — Climate change negotiators meeting in Denmark moved closer to a pact that would pay countries for preserving forests and other landscapes, negotiators said.

If signed as anticipated, the agreement for the compensation program would provide a system by which countries could be paid for conserving ebbing natural assets based on their contribution to reducing emissions, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Environmental groups at the U.N-sponsored summit in Copenhagen, Denmark said the pact could be the biggest accomplishment of the summit.

“It is likely to be the most concrete thing that comes out of Copenhagen — and it is a very big thing,” said Fred Krupp, head of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Environmental groups support such a program because forests absorb carbon dioxide, the primary gas linked to global warming. Rain forest destruction, which releases the tree-stored CO2, is estimated to make up about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.

A final draft of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation was to be presented Wednesday to summit participants, but likely won’t be announced until the end of the week when world leaders arrive, the Times said. Yet to be resolved are how to address the rights of indigenous people living on forest land and how a forest is defined.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Conservation, Effects Of Air Pollution, Global Warming & Climate Change, Nature & Ecosystems, Other, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

British Columbian Forests Helping to Reduce Emissions

VICTORIA, British Columbia, Dec. 13 (UPI) — The destruction of British Columbia’s old-growth forests is ruining one of Canada’s best weapons against climate change, an environmental group says.

A report issued by the Sierra Club Sunday said industrial logging over the decades has decimated old-growth tracts to below the level needed to preserve species. The group also said wiping out so much old forest removes carbon-storage capability, adding to greenhouse gas emissions, the Victoria Times Colonist reported.

Logging on Vancouver Island alone has caused the release of 370 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the group said, calling for efforts to protect remaining old-growth and second-growth forest.

Ken Wu of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee will speak at the conference on climate change in Copenhagen about Vancouver’s forests and their effect on the environment.

“The international community here will be amazed to learn about how spectacular B.C.’s coastal old-growth forests are and the incredible amounts of carbon they store per hectare — virtually unmatched in the world,” he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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Rare Tree Stolen from Seattle Arboretum

SEATTLE, Dec. 10 (UPI) — Officials with the Washington Park Arboretum said someone apparently seeking a free Christmas tree chopped down a rare specimen from the Seattle park.

Randall Hitchin, manager of living collections for the University of Washington Botanical Gardens, which runs the arboretum, said workers discovered the stump of the formerly 7-foot-tall tree Wednesday and determined someone had chopped down the rare tree, which is native to the mountains of China’s Yunnan province, and had taken it from the park, The Seattle Times reported Thursday.

“It makes me want to cry,” Hitchin said of the Keteleeria evelyniana’s disappearance.

Hitchin said the tree, which the arboretum obtained in 1998, was one of two at the facility, but the second tree does not share the missing specimen’s symmetrical beauty.

“A Keteleeria is something that even most arborists have never heard of,” Hitchin said. “Or if they have, it’s just a reference in a book. To have a specimen in the flesh is just a tremendous thing.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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Climate, History Affect Logging Recovery

HOUGHTON, Mich., Dec. 8 (UPI) — U.S. researchers said they have determined climate and restoration efforts can affect how forests recover from logging.

Michigan Technological University Associate Professor Christopher Webster and Purdue University Assistant Professor Michael Jenkins said they studied a Smoky Mountains area that had been heavily logged nearly 80 years ago. They said they found the distribution of trillium plants, a perennial wildflower on the forest floor of the formerly logged area, was similar to that of areas that had never been logged.

Jenkins and Webster said that finding differs from that of researchers of a post-logging Oregon forest, where trillium failed to recover.

The scientists say they found differences between the Smoky Mountain and Oregon forests in the amount of rainfall, and in post-logging restoration efforts. Total summer rainfall was 20 inches at the Smoky Mountain site, but only about three inches in the Oregon forest. In addition, at the end of logging operations the Oregon site was burned and replanted, but the Smoky Mountain site was not treated.

“There’s still a lot of controversy about the effects of logging,” said Jenkins. “There is an effect on a forest, but there is also recovery as we’ve seen.”

The research appears in the journal Forest Ecology and Management.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Effects Of Air Pollution, Trees & Forestry0 Comments

Nine Amazon Countries Call for Aid for Forests

MANAUS, Brazil, Nov. 28 (UPI) — Nine South American countries that share the Amazon basin said Saturday rich nations must provide aid to help poorer ones preserve the rain forest.

The meeting in Manaus was hosted by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the BBC reported. Delegates were present from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela and Surinam, with one European leader, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, for French Guiana.

A statement of broad principles from the group is to be presented to the international climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, next month.

“The poor need to be supported without any country giving up its sovereignty,” Lula said. “Let no gringo ask us to let an Amazonian starve to death under a tree ”

At the meeting of Commonwealth of Nations countries in Trinidad and Tobago, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown proposed a fund to provide incentives for poor countries to stop cutting tropical forests.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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Southern California's Anaheim Hills Brush Fire Now Fully Contained

ANAHEIM HILLS, Calif., Nov. 26 (UPI) — A wind-whipped Southern California brush fire was fully contained Thursday, but firefighters beefed up units because of the warm, dry weather forecast.

The blaze, which broke out Tuesday night in Anaheim Hills, 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles, was initially fanned by 55 mph winds and threatened to jump across State Route 241 and burn toward populated areas, county fire officials said.

But ground crews, aided by water-dropping helicopters, stopped the flames from jumping the highway, the Orange County Fire Authority said.

The blaze charred more than 80 acres. No one was hurt and no houses burned.

The fire’s cause was under investigation, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The fire authority said it would staff each 24-hour shift through Monday with 11 additional firefighters, two water tankers and an on-call “incident management team.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Trees & Forestry, Wind0 Comments

Anaheim Hills and Orange County Wildfire Spreads to 60 Acres

ANAHEIM HILLS, Calif., Nov. 25 (UPI) — California firefighters say a wildfire burning near Anaheim Hills in Orange County is 15 percent contained.

Orange County Fire Authority spokeswoman Tasha Schilling said no structures had been burned and no evacuations had been ordered in connection with the fire, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The blaze was reported around 10 p.m. Tuesday by the California Highway Patrol and had spread to 60 acres, KABC-TV, Los Angeles, reported.

The authority’s Capt. Greg McKeown said rising wind gusts on Wednesday would make it harder for about 200 firefighters to battle the blaze, near the Irvine, Calif., Ranch Conservancy.

“That’s a big concern for us, especially with all the hot embers and all the hot spots that are still inside the perimeter of the fire,” he told KABC.

The National Weather Service issued a red-flag wildfire warning for Orange County Wednesday, with low humidity and winds expected to gust as high as 50 mph.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Trees & Forestry, Wind0 Comments

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