Gearing up for the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition Bioversity International scientist Barbara Vinceti speaks about the importance of forest foods in peoples' diets.
Via Luigi Guarino
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December 12, 2012 Science Heathen
Over half of the world’s forests have been destroyed in the last 10,000 or so years, the majority of this loss has occurred in the last 50 years, occurring simultaneously with a massive increase in the human population. The incredible scale of this loss has led to significant changes throughout many parts of the world, and in recent years these changes have been accelerating. These changes include: large scale extinction events, desertification, climatic changes, topsoil loss, flooding, famine, disease outbreaks, and insect ‘plagues’, among others.... http://scienceheathen.com/2012/12/13/deforestation-effects-causes-and-examples-top-10-list/
Via pdjmoo, Nick Stevens
Learning hydroponics gardening? Love gardening with organics? Get frequent updates, with the best plant feeding tips, plant growth information, and easy garden design tips.
Via Linn Gustavsson
Tree leaves that fall every autumn make fantastic compost or mulch to feed your garden plants.
Tree leaves are the end source of all of the elements a tree’s roots draw from the ground. Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorous, Nitrogen and Ash are found abundantly in leaves (amounts differ depending on the type of tree), and those elements are pretty much the complete food course for your plants. The yearly addition of leaves into your garden beds will eventually create a rich, dark soil with excellent tilth.
There are a number of ways to re-purpose those tree leaves.
Tree leaves are a great addition to your compost pile. But as they’re very high in carbon (54:1 carbon to nitrogen ratio), make sure that you’ve got enough greens, kitchen scraps or manures(poultry or horse only) in the pile so the leaves break down in a timely manner. Without the added nitrogen they’ll mat together and form one big clump of dead, wet leaves.
You know that layer of black soil just under the leaves and twigs on the forest floor? That’s leaf mold and it feeds plants like nobody’s business. To make your own, create a 3′ by 3′ x 3′ bin from chicken wire (or similar fencing) and place it in a shady corner of your property. Rake your tree leaves and load them into the bin. Leave in place for one or two years, keep the pile consistently moist and turn only once a year. Fungi work on the leaves to break them down and eventually create leaf mold, which is a fantastic compost and soil builder. Expect your leaf mold to be about 1/3rd the volume of your original leaf pile.
According to the Rodale Book Of Composting: “Leaf mold is ordinarily found in the forest in a layer just above the mineral soil. It has the merit of decomposing slowly, furnishing plant nutrients gradually, and improving the soil structure as it does so. Leaf mold’s ability to retain moisture is amazing. Subsoil can hold a mere 20 percent of its weight in water; good, rich topsoil will hold 60 percent; but leaf mold can retain 300-500 percent of its weight.”
You don’t need a fancy shredder to shred tree leaves, you just need a lawnmower. A mulching blade on your mower works best, as it will grind the leaves into tiny particles, small enough to force them down to the soil line where they’ll feed your lawn over the winter and add water holding capacity to the soil. If you have a bag mower and a standard mower blade, use the mower to shred the leaves, which will end up in the bag. That makes for a nice, clean yard and plenty of compostable material, as you’ll have the leaves and nitrogen-heavy lawn trimmings mixed together (see above).
Put leaves to bed
My personal “leaf technique” is sloppy, but it works. I simply work tree leaves into my flower and vegetable beds with a garden cultivator. If any are already dry, I crumble them up and scatter them in the bed. This gets the leaves down into the soil where the worms, fungi and bacteria can go to work on them. By the following spring, the leaves have decomposed and have deposited their nutrients in the soil. It’s very important that you don’t just let the leaves lay on the surface of your garden bed. If they mat together, they’ll create a dense cover which won’t allow air and water through, although it will block weed seeds. Piles of dry leaves on your beds may simply blow away on the winter winds.
Tree leaves are a great gift for your garden – don’t let them go to waste.
Via Giri Kumar
phoebird has added a photo to the pool: For now at least. The garden is on an easement between my friend's property and the neighboring high school. The school would love 6 more parking spots...and have lately been threatening to pave it over.
Via Luigi Guarino
Frank Rijsberman, head of the world's 15 international CGIAR crop research centres, which study food insecurity, said: "Food production will have to rise 60 per cent by 2050 just to keep pace with expected global population increase and changing demand. Climate change comes on top of that. The annual production gains we have come to expect … will be taken away by climate change. We are not so worried about the total amount of food produced so much as the vulnerability of the one billion people who are without food already and who will be hit hardest by climate change. They have no capacity to adapt. www.ccafs.cgiar.org
Via CGIAR Climate
There is immense potential of biomass energy in ASEAN countries due to plentiful supply of diverse forms of wastes such as agricultural residues, woody biomass, animal wastes, municipal solid waste, etc. ASEAN region is a big producer of wood and agricultural products which, when processed in industries, produces large amounts of biomass residues.
Via Salman Zafar
Wood chips are a long lasting organic mulch for trees, shrubs, and perennials which in many cases can be had for free...
If you garden, you may often hear that arborist wood chips should not be used as mulch, which actually is not supported by studies. Wood chips are one of the best mulches for trees and shrubs, but may not be the best for annuals and vegetables, according to Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott from Washington State University.
In a 1990 study comparing 15 different organic mulches, wood chips were one of the best for holding moisture, moderating soil temperatures, controlling weeds, and overall sustainability. Wood chips absorb more water than many other mulches, water which both cools the soil and is slowly released to plants.
Economically wood chips work too, as in most areas they can be obtained free from arborists or local recycle centers. Obtaining them from local sources rather than in bags at chain stores, trucked in from distant locations, keeps the product out of landfills and supports less fuel wasted on trucking. They’re also economical in that being slow to break down, wood chips will last longer than most other choices, so don’t need replenishing as often.
Dr. Chalker-Scott points out that since wood chips contain materials of various sizes—bark, wood, and leaves—they are more resistant to compaction than sawdust and bark. This diverse selection of materials also supports a diverse selection of soil microorganisms. These, in turn, are more resistant to environmental stresses and create a healthier plant environment.
One of the main concerns, and reason often cited for not using wood chips, is that they will tie up nitrogen and cause plants to be hungry. When wood chips are used on trees and shrubs, many studies have shown just the opposite. While there is likely a shallow zone near the surface under a layer of wood chips in which nitrogen is often lacking (organisms use up nitrogen as they break down organic matter), the deeper roots of shrubs and trees should have sufficient nutrients in good soils. This shallow zone under wood chips, lacking in nitrogen, may help reduce weed seed germination. Fewer weeds means more nutrients available for your plants.
Since this surface zone, lacking nutrients, is the area of the shallow roots of annuals and many vegetables, wood chips are not best to use for these. Nor would they be good on first year perennials, or those with shallow roots such as yarrow. If concerned about a lack of nitrogen, with shrubs and trees, use a nutrient-rich compost layer on the soil before applying wood chips. This “mulch sandwich” is similar to what one finds in a forest ecosystem, and is what the wood chips will form on their own over time.
Some gardeners apply extra fertilizer to the soil surface, particularly nitrogen-rich ones, prior to applying wood chips. For organic nitrogen sources, you could use blood meal (12 percent nitrogen), fish meal (9 percent), cottonseed meal (6 percent) or soybean meal (also 6 percent) among others. A 5-3-4 analysis organic fertilizer supplies nitrogen as well other nutrients.
Another major concern is whether wood chips will bring in diseases. If this is a worry, let them age for a year or two before applying. The downside to this is that some of the nutritional value will be lost. Studies have shown that wood chips don’t transmit disease organisms to roots of healthy trees. In healthy soils, there are more good fungal diseases that out-compete the bad ones on roots. In healthy plants, weak plant diseases can’t get established. These are often called “opportunistic” diseases, as they take advantage of opportunities for infection, such as wounding of bark and damaged roots.
While the studies noted were done on roots, tree tops weren’t mentioned. Unfortunately, in my own experience, I unknowingly imported some leaf diseases (needlecast in particular) on bark spread under susceptible spruce species. Control required more spraying than was possible or desirable, so these trees are now mostly dead. Other species not susceptible to this disease are fine. So my lesson learned is not to use bark or other wood products like wood chips from unknown sources, which may have come from infected trees, around evergreens that may get leaf diseases.
Yet, in other areas and similar to some growers I know, I’ve used wood chips on trees and shrubs with no effect on their growth. This mulch has not acidified soils, as is often claimed, nor has it increased pests such as carpenter ants, nor has it killed the plants through leaching harmful (“allelopathic”) chemicals.
More on the use of wood chips, and other horticultural myths based on a review of scientific studies, can be found on Dr. Chalker-Scott’s website (www.informedgardener.com).
Dr Leonard Perry is an Extension Professor at the University Of Vermont and an advisor to the Vermont Association Of Professional Horticulturists
Via Giri Kumar
Besides aesthetics and shade, trees also stabilize soil and reduce erosion, store water, provide wildlife habitat, and moderate air and soil temperatures...
After Hurricane Sandy felled thousands of trees in October and took down power lines throughout the mid Atlantic, I started thinking about how the sudden loss of those beautiful old growth trees would change the properties they stood on.
Besides the obvious functions of aesthetics and shade, trees also stabilize soil and reduce erosion, increase soil fertility, enhance the land’s ability to store water, provide wildlife habitat, moderate air and soil temperatures, and help to reduce salinization. Trees are therefore essential in protecting our homes and communities. This may seem counterintuitive in the wake of so many large trees being snapped like twigs during Hurricane Sandy, but bare with me.
“We can thank trees for our life. They evolved an imponderable 370 million years ago and helped create the very air that we breathe by “inhaling” carbon dioxide, acting as carbon sinks, and “exhaling” oxygen…With the exception of a very few reptiles, trees are the only living organisms with a lifespan greater than that of humans. They are unique inter-generational gifts to pass on to our descendants. Indeed, the oldest living tree has spanned more than 150 human generations.” - United Nations Plant For The Planet The Billion Tree Campaign.
Trees protect your home by slowing wind speed.
Windbreaksare one of the most essential functions of trees and are key in minimizing damage to our homes from storms.The function of windbreaks is to slow wind speed. Trees, even one or two, are very effective as windbreaks, but your choice of species and planting location must be considered carefully. A mix of deciduous trees (those that lose their foliage in winter) and evergreens offer the best protection. If only large evergreens are used, they may allow so little wind to pass through that they take on the qualities of a fence – hurricane strength winds have difficulty passing through, and the force uproots the tree. In my neighborhood, Hurricane Sandy took down the biggest trees, and almost all were pines.
Trees should be planted on the leeward side of your home, which is the side which receives the prevailing winds. This will vary depending upon where you live. At my home in northeast Pennsylvania, most of our storms blow from the South or West, as they usually travel up along the coast of the mid Atlantic or roar in from the midwest.
When choosing trees to serve as windbreaks, look for species that mature at a few feet over the peak of your house – the mature height of every tree is shown on the plant tag at your local garden center. Plan your windbreak so the trees are a sufficient distance from buildings to allow the trees to grow without restriction. I can’t tell you how often I see a beautiful tree like a white pine (popular as Christmas trees) planted only ten feet from someone’s front door. It looks beautiful when the tree is a sapling, but becomes a huge problem in twenty years as it begins to reach maturity, shading out everything around it, blocking the view, and branches and roots butt up against walls and foundation.
On small properties, Arborvitae may be a better choice for wind protection. Some members of this family of shrubs can grow as tall as trees, from 8-60 feet, but don’t have as wide a profile. Arborvitae provide excellent wind protection, as their foliage runs all the way to ground level, but allows wind to pass through, and they don’t have large limbs which break off and create hazards in storms. Arborvitae also make excellent natural fences.
Always choose species of trees or Arborvitae that are native to your area, as they’re adapted to your local climate and will thrive with little maintenance.
One large tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground and discharge it into the air in a day – North Carolina State University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Trees offer protection against soil erosion and intercept storm water runoff.
Much of the rain that hits a tree collects in the leaf canopy and bark, where it evaporates back into the air, leaving the rest to drip to the soil below. Tree roots extending 2-3 times beyond the dripline (the area beyond which no water will drip from foliage) absorb much of this water. In fact, the crown of a large tree can intercept so much rainfall that in one year more than 1500 gallons will evaporate back into the atmosphere instead of hitting the ground.
If that tree is removed either intentionally or by a storm, the rainwater is free to run across your property, taking with it topsoil and other beneficial organic matter, eventually dumping it all into your local storm sewer. A properly maintained lawn provides protection from erosion, but little when compared to a tree.
Depending on size and species, a single tree may store 100 gallons or more of water until it reaches its saturation point after one to two inches of rainfall. When multiplied by the number of trees in a community, this interception and redistribution of rainwater can be significant. The slowed water percolates through the soil, finding its way into local aquifers and feeding streams and rivers. Trees also protect your soil from wind erosion – the drying of the soil caused by wind.
“Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and save 20-50 percent in energy used for heating.” – USDA Forest Service
Trees moderate surrounding air and soil temperature.
What’s better than cooling off on a hot summer day under the dense shade of a beautiful, old Maple tree?That cooling effect also extends to the soil around the tree, keeping insects, worms and bio-organisms happy near the surface, instead of driving them deep below to stay cool. These creatures are brilliant at breaking down organic matter like fallen tree leaves into elements necessary for plant growth, benefiting the lawn and flowers within the shade of the tree.
For the most effective temperature moderation of your home, plant deciduous trees on the south side of your property. The mature tree will cast a cooling shadow on your house on summer afternoons and the absence of foliage in winter allows the sun to warm the house. Once again, be aware of the mature size of the tree when determining planting distance from walls.
Trees clean air and provide oxygen
Trees act as a giant carbon dioxide (CO2) sponge. They require CO2 to perform photosynthesis, and then give us the byproduct of this process, oxygen. This improves the air quality around your home and in your community and is especially important in cities. “A big tree does 60 to 70 times the pollution removal of a small tree,” says David Nowak, a project leader with the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Syracuse, N.Y. It’s estimated that one mature tree, depending on its type, can annually release enough oxygen for a family of four.
Additional benefits of planting trees
Trees planted along your property line can provide privacy and look a whole lot friendlier than a fenceThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that trees can reduce bothersome noise by up to 50% and mask unwanted noises with pleasant, natural soundsTrees nurture birds, beneficial insects and other wildlife, providing resting spots during migration, nesting opportunties, and protection from weather extremesTrees increase the value of your home, as a well landscaped property is more attractive to buyers than a clear cut property
These suggestions for planting trees will offer protection from typical storms. However, with hurricane force winds like those from Sandy, anything can happen, and the best planning may be rendered moot. In my area, Hurricane Sandy’s winds came from the North, an odd direction for us in the fall, but this was no normal storm. The largest trees took the brunt of the 75 mph winds, which is why the power outages were so extreme.
With climate change upon us, it’s predicted that storms such as Sandy will become more frequent. The more natural protection you can provide for your home, the safer you’ll be.
Via Giri Kumar
The Middle East is the largest oil-exporting region in the world. Around 85 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions come from energy production, electricity generation, industrial sector and domestic energy consumption. Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia figure among the world’s top-10 per capita carbon emitters. Without a change in energy policies and energy consumption behavior, Middle East's energy-related GHG emissions will continue to grow.
Via Salman Zafar
Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2013 examines progress in the development and deployment of key clean energy technologies. Each technology and sector is tracked against interim 2020 targets in the IEA 2012 Energy Technology Perspectives 2°C scenario, which lays out pathways to a sustainable energy system in 2050.
Stark message emerge: progress has not been fast enough; large market failures and preventing clean energy solutions from being taken up; considerable energy efficiency remains untapped; policies need to better address the energy system as a whole; and energy-related research, development and demonstration need to accelerate.
Alongside these grim conclusions there is positive news. In 2012, hybrid-electric vehicle sales passed the 1 million mark. Solar photovoltaic systems were being installed at a record pace. The costs of most clean energy technologies fell more rapidly than anticipated
Via Hans De Keulenaer