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    Indigenous Burning: Myth and Realities – The Wildlife News - October 29, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Forest Service using drip torch for prescribed burning. Photo by George Wuerthner

    There has been a spate of articles in various newspapers and magazines, asserting that if the Forest Service were following burning practices of Indigenous people, the massive wildfires we have seen around the West would be tamed.

    Here are some representative of Indian burning will save the forest articles.

    The October 7th, 2020 article Wildfires has ravaged the Western United States this year. Sending firefighting experts to Indigenous communities for guidance by Jim Cowan in the New York Times is typical of the erroneous assertions about Native American burning and its influence on large wildfires.

    Long before California was California, Native Americans used fire to keep the lands where they lived healthy. That meant intentionally burning excess vegetation at regular intervals, during times of the year when the weather would keep blazes smaller and cooler than the destructive wildfires burning today.

    And the Guardian article, like most of these recent publications, implies that the loss of native burning is contributing to large blazes: a century of practicing fire suppression over traditional tribal land stewardship has led to larger, more destructive wildfires.

    The idea that tribal burning impacted the broad landscape is asserted by some scholars (Williams, G.W. 2004; Lightfoot, K.G. and R.Q. Cuthrell. 2015) but often with scant evidence to back up these claims except for oral traditions of Native people.



    As Barrett et al. 2005 noted: For many years, the importance of fire use by American Indians in altering North American ecosystems was underappreciated or ignored. Now, there seems to be an opposite trend. It is common now to read or hear statements to the effect that American Indians fired landscapes everywhere and all the time, so there is no such thing as a natural ecosystem. A myth of human manipulation everywhere in pre-Columbus America is replacing the equally erroneous myth of a pristine wilderness.

    We believe that it is time to deflate the rapidly spreading myth that American Indians altered all landscapes by means of fire. In short, we believe that the case for landscape-level fire use by American Indians has been dramatically overstated and overextrapolated.

    Noss et al. 2014 assert: Despite ample evidence that lightning fire was a primary ecological driver in the NACP [North American Coastal Plain], the myth persists that most fires before the arrival of Europeans were set by Native Americans. For example, Mann (2005; 361) provides a map that shows essentially the entire pre-Columbian NACP, including the lightning-riddled Gulf coast and Florida peninsula, as dominated by anthropogenic fire or with widespread forest clearing for agriculture. No evidence is offered to support these claims.

    Most evidence for the widespread influence of indigenous burning is based on oral tradition, which is notoriously subject to variation of interpretation and misinterpretation.


    The question is not whether Indian burning occurred, but rather to what extent it influenced the landscape as a whole and precluded large mixed to high severity blazes or what some people term mega fires. Is it a panacea for thwarting large blazes as implied? Furthermore, it needs into the notion that high severity blazes are somehow unnatural and ecologically destructive.

    The Blow up or 1910 Burn that charred 3.5 million acres of Idaho and Montana occurred well before fire suppression led to fuel build-ups Photo George Wuerthner

    The idea that fire suppression has led to some fuel build up in some plant communities is accurate, but fuel build-up is not the primary cause of sizeable high severity blazes. Most of these blazes are burning in plant communities like lodgepole pine, spruce/fire, juniper, and other plant communities that naturally had long intervals between fire events and naturally accumulate fuels. In other words, fuel build up in these plant communities is entirely natural.

    There is ample evidence that Indian burning had little effect on large fires on the landscape. Except for some high-use areas, Indian burning did not significantly alter fuels across the broader landscape; more importantly, it did not preclude larger blazes.

    Large mega fires have occurred for thousands of years, and Indigenous burning did not preclude them.

    Plus, the idea that low severity fires dominated western landscapes ignores the fact that numerous species depend on the high-severity snag forests that result from sizeable high severity blazes. The second-highest biodiversity after old-growth forests is found in the snag forests and down wood that results from these blazes. These high severity habitats would simply not exist if such Indigenous burning were as successful as advocates suggest.

    Indeed, the effectiveness of one hundred years of fire suppression can be questioned. For instance, in the early part of the 20th Century, as much as 50 million acres burned annually in the United States during several drought decades.


    Cultural burning was done for a variety of other purposes. To create favorable conditions for the growth of specific plant foods that might be favored by fire, create fresh new growth of grasses and other plants favored by wildlife like deer, elk, or bison. Fires were also used in warfare to burn out enemies that might be hiding in dense brush.

    Just as today, wildfire was a natural force that influenced where people lived. One of the ways tribal people lived with fire was to locally reduce fuels to safeguard their villages, trading centers, and traditional gathering areas from large dangerous blazes.

    This is the model that we should be promoting todayworking from home outward to reduce local flammability of homes and communities edge.

    Since most tribal people lived in lower elevation landscapes like valley bottoms with grasslands or dry ponderosa pine forests where a wildfire was naturally more frequent, Indigenous burning likely favored the continued existence and expansion of these plant communities.

    Ponderosa pine forests characteristically experienced low severity frequent fires that reduced ground fuels. Photo by George Wuerthner

    It is important to note that these community types are often a small percentage of the landscape. For instance, dry montane forests (chiefly ponderosa pine) make up only 4% of western Montana and northern Idaho.

    However, the question remains as to whether this cultural burning was sufficient to change fire regimes across the broader landscape to the point it precluded larger wildfires.

    While there is no doubt that Indigenous burning was widely practiced, the idea that cultural burning was a significant influence on landscape-scale fire influences is questionable.

    There are multiple lines of evidence to suggest that Indian burning likely was local and did affect the broader landscape.


    Perhaps the biggest problem with the Indigenous burning will preclude large blazes is that it feeds into the narrative that fuels drive the massive fires we see around the West. The problem with this explanation is that large fires are climate-weather driven events-and have always been a consequence of climate-weather. There is abundant coloration between extensive drought and large landscape fires. Conversely, during periods of wet, cool climates, there are fewer large blazes.

    If fuels were the primary driver of large blazes, we would expect large mega-fires along the Pacific Northwest coast where forest biomass is the greatest on the continent. Yet these coastal forests burn very infrequently-typically on 500-1000-year rotations due to the cool, moist climate.

    Tom Butler hugs old growth Sitka spruce, Hoh River Valley Olympic National Park Washington. Photo by George Wuerthner


    If you have severe drought, low humidity, high temperatures, and, most importantly, wind, you get large landscape fires. If you do not have these weather/climate conditions, you get fewer ignitions, smaller fires that mostly self-extinguish.

    The wind driving flames through vegetation during the 1988 fires that charred more than a million acres of Yellowstone National Park.

    While Indian burning likely did influence fuel loading in some localized areas, it did not change the basic weather/climate ingredients that drive all large blazes (Whitlock, C et al. 2010).

    Furthermore, you simply will not get large acreages to burn unless you have these extreme fire weather conditions.

    First, most cultural burning, like the prescribed fires set today by state and federal agencies, was practiced in the spring and fall when fire spread was limited by moist fuels, high humidity, cool temperatures, and when winds are calm. High fuel moisture and cool temperatures limit fire spread. In other words, you will not burn much acreage. Under such conditions, most fires simply self-extinguish and are challenging to maintain.

    Despite the implied notion in some of the above articles that somehow the Forest Service is ignorance of burning practices, this is the same reason federal and state agencies usually do prescribe burning during these seasons.

    By contrast, all our larger landscape fires occur during extreme fire weather conditions, typically in the summer and early fall months. These include severe drought, low humidity, high temperatures, and, most importantly, wind.

    Why is this important? Because most fires, even natural fires, are small. Unless you have these extreme fire weather conditions, 97-99% of all fires will burn 1-5 acres even if you dont suppress them. Whether the ignitions are from lightning or humans, if you dont have the right weather conditions, you will not burn a significant amount of the landscape.

    For instance, 56,320 fires burned over 9 million acres in the Rocky Mountains between 1980-2003. 98% of these fires (55,220) burned less than 500 acres and accounted for 4% of the area burned. By contrast, only 2% of all fires accounted for 96% of the acreage burned. And 0.1% (50) of blazes were responsible for half of the acres charred. (Baker 2009 Fire Ecology in Rocky Mountain Landscapes).

    In another example, between 1972 and 1987, Yellowstone National Park did not suppress backcountry fires. During this period, there were 235 blazes. Of these, 222 charred less than 5 acres and most burned less than 1 acre. And all 235 fires self-extinguished.

    Then in 1988, more than a million acres burned in Yellowstone. Did fuels suddenly balloon overnight to sustain large high severity blazes? 1988 was the driest year on record since the park was established, with humidity as low as 1-2% and winds exceeding 50 mph.

    Mosiac pattern of the 1988 wind-driven fire in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by George Wuerthner.

    Thus, it would require setting thousands of these small fires when the climate/weather is not conducive for fire spread to burn any substantial amount of the landscape. So, the idea that Indian burning, which can be characterized as primarily low-severity frequent fires, was of sufficient size and scale to affect larger landscapes is questionable based on such ignitions timing.

    Native people were wise enough to avoid purposely setting fires in the middle of extreme fire weather. Setting a blaze under conditions with variable high winds and drought was a recipe for disaster because it quickly leads to uncontrollable fires threatening villages and lives.


    Most of the Wests plant communities tend to naturally have long to very long fire rotations between fires, of many decades to hundreds of years in length. These communities include aspen, most fir species, mountain hemlock, western hemlock, west-side Douglas fir, chaparral, sagebrush, juniper-pinyon, lodgepole pine, white pine, western larch, and various spruce species.

    Old-growth mountain hemlock forest which typically remains fire-free for hundreds of years between blazes.

    This means wildfire historically did not burn in these communities except at infrequent intervals, almost always dictated by climate/weather.

    During extreme weather conditions, the relative importance of fuels diminishes since all stands achieve the threshold required to permit crown fire development. Weather/climate is important since most of the area burned in subalpine forests has historically occurred during very extreme weather (i.e., drought coupled to high winds). The fire behavior relationships predicted in the models support the concept that forest fire behavior is determined primarily by weather variation among years rather than fuel variation associated with stand age (Bessie and Johnson 1995).

    Many of these species have few adaptations to withstand frequent fires and would simply not exist if tribal burning affected them.


    Though most fire ecologists concede that native burning likely declined after European American settlement due to population decline resulting from disease, warfare, and displacement, there is plenty of evidence for large fires before large scale Euro American occupation.

    For instance, in Oregons Willamette Valley, most large trees were established after large, high severity fires that occurred long before Euro-American influences on native populations. The 1865 Silverton Fire burned more than a million acres of the western Cascades. The 1853 Yaquina Fire burned nearly a half-million acres. Recent records from Washington estimate that a series of large fires in 1701 may have burned between 3 and 10 million acres in a single summer. To quote from a recent article on fires in Washington state: 1701 is given as the best estimate for the last devastating fire that occurred throughout Western Washington, a fire that burned an estimated 3 million to 10 million acres. At the upper end of that range, the area is roughly equal to 10 Olympic National Parks. (

    Although individual accounts can vary, the observers detail can provide some hint of early accounts accuracy. For instance, David Douglas (for whom Douglas Fir is named) traveled from the Hudson Bay Post at Fort Vancouver down the Willamette Valley in 1826, carefully noting the vegetation. Douglas reported seeing burnt patches but indicated that most were small (Knox and Whitlock 2002).

    Oak woodland in Willamette Valley, Oregon. Photo by George Wuerthner

    Peter Skene Ogden noted extensive burns in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon and attributed it to natives. However, unless one actually observed Natives setting fires, it is difficult to know the source of ignition.

    On the other hand, numerous travelers who kept meticulous notes like Lewis and Clark and John Fremont seldom mention encountering Indian burning. The absence of evidence is not the same as no evidence; nevertheless, when someone like Lewis and Clark or John Fremont fails to report extensive Indian burning, it does raise a cautionary note about interpreting historical accounts.

    The other consideration is that Douglas, like most people traveling through the landscape, used the Indian trails and natural travel routes. Since human occupation is greatest in such areas, it may provide a biased view of the occurrence of human ignitions. Even today, the majority of wildfires occur near roads. Also, since most of these areas were dominated by grasslands and low elevation dry pines where fire is more frequent even today, it does not support the broader influence of human burning on the landscape.


    Beyond just historical accounts of fires, there is proxy evidence for past fire occurrence. Scientists use various methods to determine the fire history of any location.

    The scientific evidence for historical fire regimes is based on a few different methods. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages (Whitlock et al. 2004).

    The most common method for reconstructing fire history is fire scars, but other ways, including charcoal and pollen studies, among other techniques, result in different perspectives.

    When a fire burns through an area at low severity (i.e., typically does not kill mature trees), it can leave a scar in the surviving trees. The scar eventually heals and is recorded in the tree rings. By examining tree rings, one can count the years between fires, and in some cases, even determine the season of the burn. This is the most popular method of determining fire histories.

    Fire scar in ponderosa pine Oregon. Photo by George Wuerthner

    There are, however, some problems with fire scar methods that some researchers believe results in an overestimation of fire frequency and influence (see Baker and Ehle 2001). For more detail on the problems of fire scar historical reconstructions, see (Wuerthner 2018)

    There have been numerous studies that have looked at Indian burning and its influence on fire regimes. Most work done by fire ecologists who focus on large landscape fires do not find any additive impact from Indigenous burning. Instead, climate/weather appears to control periods of significant wildfire activity (Baker W.L. 2002).

    In other words, they find evidence for more frequent fires during major droughts and in the immediate area of villages, along major travel corridors, trading centers, and other high use areas. Still, across the landscape as a whole, they do not find evidence that human ignitions were additive to total landscape acreage charred by wildfire.

    In my view, the best way to document whether human ignitions were an important influence for landscape-scale fires is to use charcoal or pollen studies. But other techniques such as air photo, General Land Office (GLO) surveys, and even historical accounts of early Euro Americans can also provide insights.

    Charcoal studies are a proxy for wildfires that rely on examining core drillings in lakes and ponds to extract sediments where charcoal from major wildfires are recorded. By reviewing such cores, researchers can document the larger wildfires in a landscape going back thousands of years. Charcoal studies tend to record the larger regional blazes.

    Pollen from the same core samples also documents the primary vegetation present in surrounding lands.

    For instance, Vachula et al. 2019 studied Yosemite National Park, where historically large Indigenous communities resided. Their research found a direct correlation between climate and the amount of burning on the landscape.

    Yosemite Valley, smoke from fire, Yosemite NP, CA. Photo by George Wuerthner

    We analyzed charcoal preserved in lake sediments from Yosemite National Park and spanning the last 1400 years to reconstruct local and regional area burned. Warm and dry climates promoted burning at both local and regional scales Regional area burned peaked during the Medieval Climate Anomaly and declined during the last millennium, as climate became cooler and wetter and Native American burning declined.

    Our record indicates that (1) climate changes influenced burning at all spatial scales, (2) Native American influences appear to have been limited to local scales, but (3) high Miwok populations resulted in fire even during periods of climate conditions unfavorable to fires. However, at the regional scale (< 150 km from the lake), fire was generally controlled by the top-down influence of climate. (Vachula et al. 2019)

    Another study in the Willamette Valley found that the mean fire interval in Oregons Coast Range was 230 years, and the presence of fire-sensitive species like Sitka spruce indicates a lack of frequent fire (Knox and Whitlock 2002).

    Sitka spruce in Oregons Coast Range experience a mean fire interval of 230 years. Photo by George Wuerthner

    Regarding Indigenous ignitions in the Willamette Valley, Whitlock notes: The idea that Native Americans burned from one end of the valley to the other is not supported by our data, says Whitlock. Most fires seem to have been fairly localized, and broad changes in fire activity seem to track large-scale variations in climate, she says. (Fire Science, 2010).

    In another charcoal study of Washingtons Battle Ground Lake, Megan Walsh (Walsh et al. 2008) concluded that Fire frequency was highest during the middle Holocene when oak savanna and prairie were widespread near Battle Ground Lake. She suggests: The vegetation and fire conditions were most likely the result of warmer and drier conditions compared with the present, not from human use of fire (Fire Science 2010).

    The authors (Walsh et al. 2008) concluded that wildfires were: mostly large or high-severity fire episodes. The fire history at Battle Ground Lake was driven by climate, directly through the length and severity of the fire season, and indirectly through climate-driven vegetation shifts, which affected available fuel biomass.

    To give another example, one can show that Indian burning was more frequent in the Yosemite Valley where Indian people resided much of the year, but no evidence for wide-spread human burning in the majority of what is now Yosemite Valley or the Sierra Nevada Mountains as a whole (Vale 1998).

    Hoffman et al. 2016 looked at Indian burning influence in coastal British Columbia and concluded: fires. At the decadal scale, fires were more likely to occur after positive El Nio-Southern Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation phases and exhibited 30-year periods of synchrony with the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation. Fire frequency was significantly inversely correlated with the distance from former Indigenous habitation sites.

    Though the Karuk and other tribes in northern Californias Siskiyou Mountains assert that their traditional burning precluded large fires, and that fire suppression of native burning practices contributed to the sizeable high severity blazes now burning the region.

    Columbaroil and Gavin (2002) documented that large fires always occurred in the Siskiyou Mountains, primarily due to climate/weather, even during the pre-European period. Fire is a primary mode of natural disturbance in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Increased fuel loads following fire suppression and the occurrence of several large and severe fires have led to the perception that in many areas, there is a greatly increased risk of high-severity fire compared with presettlement forests. To reconstruct the variability of the fire regime in the Siskiyou Mountains, Oregon, we analyzed a 10-m, 2,000-y sediment core for charcoal, pollen, and sedimentological data. The record reveals a highly episodic pattern of fire in which 77% of the 68 charcoal peaks before Euro-American settlement

    High severity burns always occurred in the Siskiyou Mountains, despite Indigenous burning. Photo by George Wuerthner

    Odion et al. (2004) (Conservation Biology), conducted in a 98,814-hectare area burned in 1987 in the California Klamath region, found that the most fire-suppressed forests in this area (areas that had not burned since at least 1920) burned at significantly lower severity levels, likely due to a reduction in combustible native shrubs as forests mature and canopy cover increases: The hypothesis that fire severity is greater where previous fire has been long absent was refuted by our studyThe amount of high-severity fire in long-unburned closed forests was the lowest of any proportion of the landscape and differed from that in the landscape as a whole (Z = -2.62, n = 66, p = 0.004).

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    Indigenous Burning: Myth and Realities - The Wildlife News

    Homeowners, beware: ‘Bag’ worms are infesting trees and shrubs – Kankakee Daily Journal - October 10, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Do you have a bagworm infection in your trees? The bags they inhabit are easy to spot but often confused for cones or seed-bearing structures.

    According to the University of Illinois Extension of Kankakee County and The Morton Arboretum, they take up homestead in conifer, arborvitae, spruce, eastern red cedar, other junipers or white pine trees.

    The bags are usually 1.5- to 2-inches long and will look different depending on the host plant, the Morton Arboretum says. For example, the bag on a maple will look different from a bag on an arborvitae. Because bagworms add plant materials to the top of the bag, the freshest and greenest material is on the top of the bag. Inside the bag is, or was, a worm. A few of them and your trees would be OK, but a whole lot of them could eat down your tree or bush.

    The dark brown bagworm caterpillars are 1/8- to 1/4-inch long when they first hatch, eventually reaching 1-inch long. As the insect feeds, it creates a silken case covered with the leaves made from the host plant, binding the bag together and attaching it to the plant with a silken thread.

    Once a plant is infested, populations can grow quickly.

    Life cycle

    Bagworm young hatch in the overwintering bag and emerge in June to begin feeding, the extension says. They are blown to other plants easily. As they feed, female worms construct their case (bag) for about three months; sometimes during this stage, it is possible to see the bags moving as the worms move. In late summer the mature worms pupate for seven to 10 days; winged males emerge and exit the bag, and wingless females stay and mate while still in the bag. One female lays up to 1,000 eggs in the bag, where they will stay until the next year. Meanwhile, the female dies.

    You will find bagworms feeding during the summer, but they are much easier to kill when they are small. These caterpillars remain susceptible to chemical treatment into early July. Heavy infestations can be unsightly with all the eaten foliage and can kill branches or whole plants.

    By the time August comes, when bagworms are most likely to be noticed, these caterpillars already have formed their bags, it is too late for chemical control. Hand picking is an option.

    So, now is the time to get outside and remove the bags. They can be handpicked and destroyed from fall through spring, thus removing the eggs and helping to eliminate the threat next year.

    Damage being done

    Bagworms usually begin feeding at the top of the tree, according to the extension office. When small, the worms feed in the layers of the leaf tissue, creating light patches on leaves. As they age, they consume entire needles or leaves.

    A severe infestation could defoliate plants, which can kill branches or entire plants. A healthy deciduous tree or shrub that has been defoliated usually produces a new flush of leaves and survives. However, a defoliated evergreen cannot push out an additional set of leaves and might die.

    Sources: University of Illinois Extension of Kankakee County and The Morton Arboretum

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    Homeowners, beware: 'Bag' worms are infesting trees and shrubs - Kankakee Daily Journal

    Invasive shrubs in Northeast forests grow leaves earlier and keep them longer – Penn State News - August 19, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. The rapid pace that invasive shrubs infiltrate forests in the northeastern United States makes scientists suspect they have a consistent advantage over native shrubs, and the first region-wide study of leaf timing, conducted by Penn State researchers, supports those suspicions.

    With the help of citizen scientists spread over more than 150 sites in more than 20 states, researchers collected thousands of observations over four years of exactly when both invasive and native shrubs leaf out in the spring and lose their leaves in the fall. The study area was expansive, stretching from southern Maine to central Minnesota south to southern Missouri, to North Carolina.

    In the spring, the invasive shrubs in the understory at Shaver's Creek have green leaves to take advantage of extra sunlight while the overstory canopy is leafless. However, native shrubs have barely burst leaf buds. Citizen scientists collected data on this phenomenon of extended leaf phenology across the Northeast.

    IMAGE: Erynn Maynard-Bean/Penn State

    Eastern North America is the recipient of more invasive shrubspecies into naturalareas than any other geographic region of the world, said lead researcherErynn Maynard-Bean, postdoctoral researcher in the College of Agricultural Sciences, working under the guidance of Margot Kaye, associate professor of forest ecology.Invasive shrubs are growing in both abundance and in the number of species established at the expense of many types of native species.

    The researchers reported in Biological Invasions that invasive shrubs can maintain leaves 77 days longer than native shrubs within a growing season at the southern end of the area studied. The difference decreases to about 30 days at the northern end of the study area. At the southern end of the study area, the time when invasive shrubs have leaves and native shrubs do not is equally distributed between spring and fall; in the northern reaches of the study area, two-thirds of the difference between native and invasive growing seasons occur in fall.

    The location of observations used for modeling leaf emergence and leaf off. The final number of observations used to model leaf emergence by citizen scientists was 911 across 153 sites, and for leaf off was 589 observations across 72 sites.

    IMAGE: Erynn Maynard-Bean/Penn State

    The longer period with leaves gives invasive plants an advantage in acquiring more energy from sunlight and their leaves create shade in early spring and late fall that may limit growth of native species, such as forest ephemeral wildflowers, Maynard-Bean explained.This helps explain their negative impact on native tree regeneration, plant diversity and abundance, she said. But invasive shrubs also have a negative impact on communities of animal species sensitive to light and temperature, such as bees, butterflies and amphibians.

    Small, local studies in Northeast forests have shown that invasive shrubs have leaves longer than native shrubs. However, because the phenomenon known as extended leaf phenology varies geographically, the degree to which it benefits invasive shrubs across the region had previously been unknown.

    The difference between native plants and invasive plants having leaves is not consistent, Maynard-Bean noted. It varies, dependingon latitude, species studied and weather for the study period.

    But with the help of citizen scientistswithUSA National Phenology Networkwatching plants with us from around the eastern U.S., we found a pattern of greater extended leaf phenology as you move south, she said. This provides a unified framework for connecting local-scale research results from different parts of the eastern U.S. that had previously not agreed with one another.

    In early spring, northern spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is a native shrub that is just breaking buds on the left, while an invasive shrub, Morrows honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii), has well-developed leaves on the right.

    IMAGE: Erynn Maynard-Bean/Penn State

    With the goal of understanding on-the-ground implications for eastern deciduous forest ecosystems, the researchers chose common, widespread species that co-occur in forest understories. Native shrubs followed in the study included alternate-leaf dogwood, flowering dogwood, gray dogwood, spicebush, mapleleaf viburnum, southern arrowwood, hobble-bush and black haw. Invasive shrubs native to Europe or Asia followed in the study included Japanese barberry, burning bush, multiflora rose and several species of honeysuckles and privet.

    About 800 citizen scientists collected more than 8,000 observations of leaf timing for 804 shrubs at 384 sites, from 2015 through 2018.In addition, Maynard-Bean made observations at three sites in Pennsylvania.

    In late fall, the native shrub, mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), exhibits fall color prior to the adjacent invasive privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium) which is still bright green and photosyntheticallyactive.

    IMAGE: Erynn Maynard-Bean/Penn State

    Thepatterns of extended leaf phenology for invasive shrubs compared to native shrubs found in this study have important implications for policy and management, according to Kaye, whose research group has been evaluating invasive shrubs in Northeast forests for more than a decade. She pointed out that invasives included in this study are still commonly used for horticultural purposes in some states but are banned in others.

    The presence of this phenomenon may serve as a predictive trait for the invasion potential of new horticultural specimens, Maynard-Bean said. From a management perspective, extended leaf phenology makes invasive shrubs an easier green target in the spring and fall for detection, removal and treatment, which can protect dormant, non-target native species.

    Also contributing to the research were Tyler Wagner, adjunct professor of fisheries ecology, andEric Burkhart, associate teaching professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.

    In late fall, the native shrub northern spicebush (Lindera benzoin), with yellow fall color surrounded by Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) that still has deep green foliage as well as red fruits.

    IMAGE: Erynn Maynard-Bean/Penn State

    The National Science Foundation funded this research and theUSA National Phenology Network's support was instrumental in the study. The Arboretum at Penn State and Shavers Creek Environmental Center also supported the research by allowing data collection at their sites.

    Extended leaf phenology becomes apparent at the ends of the growing season in early spring and late fall when most native woody species have lost their foliage.

    IMAGE: Erynn Maynard-Bean

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    Invasive shrubs in Northeast forests grow leaves earlier and keep them longer - Penn State News

    What Is Oleandrin? Trump Reportedly Wants FDA to Approve Plant Extract for Coronavirus – Newsweek - August 19, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    President Donald Trump reportedly wants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the plant extract oleandrin as a potential treatment for COVID-19, despite a current lack of evidence that it would be effective for this purpose.

    The extract was promoted to the president during an Oval Office meeting in July, which involved Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell and Andrew Whitney, an executive at Phoenix Biotechnologya company that is developing and pushing the oleandrin product to the Trump administration.

    During the meeting, Trump "basically said: ...'The FDA should be approving it,'" Lindell told Axios. But what is oleandrin and does the substance have any medical uses?

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    Oleandrin is a botanical extract from the oleander plantan evergreen shrub or small tree that is highly toxic to humans and many animals if any part is ingested. Oleandrin is one of several toxic compounds that the plant contains.

    Some "in vitro" researcha term used to refer to studies done in test tubes rather than animals or humanshas suggested that the substance could potentially be useful as a treatment for various cancers, including those of the colon, pancreas and prostate.

    Furthermore, one in vitro study published in the journal Fitoterapia found that the compound inhibits the ability of HIV to establish an infection, although it should be noted that the results of test tube studies do not always translate into animal or human models.

    Professor Sharon Lewin, an internationally renowned expert on antiviral drugs from the University of Melbourne in Australia, told Axios: "Oleandrin looks to have antiviral activity at high doses in a test-tube model. You'd certainly want to see more work done on this before even contemplating a human trial" for its effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2the virus that causes COVID-19.

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    While one paper published in July by researchers from the University of Texas at Galveston indicated that oleandrin inhibits SARS-CoV-2 in monkey kidney cells, its conclusions should be viewed with caution. The paper, which lists Robert Newmanchairman of Phoenix Biotechnology's scientific advisory boardas an author has not been peer-reviewed. This means it is yet to undergo evaluation by experts in the field in order to be published in a scientific journal.

    In May 2020 the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) conducted some preliminary testing of oleandrin against SARS-CoV-2. The results were "inconclusive," a spokesperson, Caree Vander Linden, told Axios.

    "Additionally, USAMRIID was contacted by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, indicating that they were also testing it," Vander Linden said. "Given our inconclusive results, and having other high priority therapeutics to assess, we did not continue with this line of research."

    Aside from the aforementioned research, there appear to be no other published papers testing oleandrin's efficacy against SARS-CoV-2 in animals or humans. However, Whitney told Axios on Saturday that an unpublished lab study testing oleandrin on humans as a COVID-19 treatment is in the process of being peer-reviewed.

    Whitney says that oleandrin can "cure" COVID-19, causing symptoms to disappear "in the vast majority of cases," Axios reported, although there is currently insufficient publicly available evidence to back up these claims.

    "We have something that we believe will address the problem and we want to make it available," Whitney told Axios. "We believe we should be given the opportunity to demonstrate that in a hospital clinical trial setting and we believe that must happen now and not a month from now."

    The company is exploring oleandrin as a potential COVID-19 treatmentsomething which would require the drug to undergo rigorous human clinical trials. However, Phoenix Biotechnology is also pushing the FDA to allow oleandrin to be sold as a dietary supplement. This could happen quickly, according to Whitney, although the company would not be allowed to make claims about its effectiveness in treating or curing COVID-19.

    Oleandrin's use against COVID-19 is supported by Carson and Lindella Trump backer, who recently bought a stake in Phoenix Biotechnology. Lindella personal friend of Carson and the presidenthelped to arrange the July Oval Office meeting where Whitney discussed oleandrin's use against COVID-19, The Washington Post reported.

    Some senior administration officials have expressed their concern over oleandrin being pushed as a COVID-19 treatment at the top of the U.S. government.

    "The involvement of the Secretary of HUD and in pushing a dubious product at the highest levels should give Americans no comfort at night about their health and safety during a raging pandemic," a senior administration official told Axios.

    In March, Trump pushed FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn to authorize the emergency use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19.

    The agency subsequently issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the drug. however, the FDA revoked this in June based on results from a large, randomized clinical trial in hospitalized patients "that found these medicines showed no benefit for decreasing the likelihood of death or speeding recovery."

    Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

    Follow this link:
    What Is Oleandrin? Trump Reportedly Wants FDA to Approve Plant Extract for Coronavirus - Newsweek

    The best spa hotels in the UK for a relaxing staycation – The Independent - August 19, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    With spas given the go-ahead to reopen their doors, relaxing spa hotel staycations are back on the travel agenda.

    While the spa experience will look a little different you can expect increased cleaning frequency, therapists wearing PPE, and to book treatments, pool and relaxation area slots ahead of time a silver lining is that limited guest numbers to aid social distancing mean an even more peaceful atmosphere. Whether its a pampering countryside break or a city-slick urban recharge youre after, here are the best UK spa hotels to book...

    Note: Steam rooms and saunas in England and Northern Ireland are allowed to re-open subject to social distancing measures Scotland and Wales are currently awaiting guidance on when theirs can open. At the moment, most hotel spas are only open to resident guests, some are implementing pre-treatment temperature checks, offering a stripped-back treatment list, and asking guests to change in-room and arrive robe-ready. Given that government guidance is liable to change quickly, wed recommend calling the hotel to double check the latest rules when you book.

    Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

    The Independent's hotel recommendations are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and book, but we never allow this to affect our coverage.

    The Gainsborough has direct access to Baths ancient springs (The Gainsborough)

    As famed for its pretty honey-hued Georgian buildings as the ancient thermal waters it was founded on, Bath makes for a brilliant wellness break. The place to bed down is the Gainsborough Bath Spa, which has 99 bedrooms with restful monochrome palettes and is the only hotel with a spa directly fed by Baths mineral-rich spring water. A handful of spa bedrooms even have the thermal water piped straight into roll top bathtubs.

    The Spa Villages centrepiece is a dramatic sapphire mosaic-tiled thermal pool surrounded by Romanesque columns. This, combined with two smaller soaking pools, an ice alcove and relaxation terrace, forms an invigorating self-guided bathing circuit. Unknotting aromatherapy and Swedish essential-oil massages are on offer in 10 treatment rooms, and the gym and complimentary weekend yoga classes will keep active types happy. For the moment, the spas signature watsu-style aqua therapies are on hold.

    Doubles from 340, room-only, including spa access.

    Lime Wood

    Set in the New Forest National Park, where wild ponies meander through woodland and violet-tinged heather scrub, Lime Wood is perhaps the ultimate rural retreat. The 13th-century lodge, transformed into a country house hotel with glorious grounds, has cosy lounges with roaring fires, an Italian restaurant helmed by Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder and 33 rooms with botanical artwork, antique furniture and bloom-festooned cushions.

    Facilities at the calming, three-level Herb House spa include a 16 metre indoor lap pool (floor-to-ceiling glass windows mean front crawl comes with a side of forest views), two hydropools and 10 treatment rooms for unknotting massages using seaweed-infused VOYA or Bamford products reflexology sessions and OPI mani-pedis. Matt Roberts personal trainers are on hand in the Technogym to ramp up workout regimes, there are al-fresco pilates and yoga classes in the herb-filled rooftop garden, and delicious, healthy meals think freshly-pressed greens and ginger juices and nori rolls at Raw and Cure restaurant.

    Doubles from 395, room-only, including spa access. Book now

    Calcot's hot tub at twilight


    Mayfair's COMO Shambhala Urban Escape feels a world away from the busy capital

    COMO Shambhala Urban Escape

    The hot tub at The Scarlet, Cornwall

    The Scarlet

    Bikes outside Babington House's Cowshed spa

    Soho House Babington House Cowshed

    The outdoor hot pool at Herb House, Limewood

    Herb House, Limewood

    Dormy House's modern spa

    Dormy House

    Rudding Park's glam steam room

    Rudding Park

    Recover from a night out in nearby Cardiff at St David's Hotel & Spa

    St David's Hotel & Spa

    A treatment room at Cowley Manor

    Cowley Manor

    Brave the outdoor pool at Hotel Portmeirion

    Hotel Portmeirion

    The Cheeky Nail Bar at The Ned

    The Ned

    Finn Lough is on the banks of Lough Erne

    Finn Lough

    The Mondrian spa embraces the Hollywood glamour of the hotel itself


    The clean white of Clivedon's spa


    The Roman Bath-style pool at Gainsborough Bath Spa

    Gainsborough Bath Spa

    Calcot's hot tub at twilight


    Mayfair's COMO Shambhala Urban Escape feels a world away from the busy capital

    COMO Shambhala Urban Escape

    The hot tub at The Scarlet, Cornwall

    The Scarlet

    Bikes outside Babington House's Cowshed spa

    Soho House Babington House Cowshed

    The outdoor hot pool at Herb House, Limewood

    Herb House, Limewood

    Dormy House's modern spa

    Dormy House

    Rudding Park's glam steam room

    Rudding Park

    Recover from a night out in nearby Cardiff at St David's Hotel & Spa

    St David's Hotel & Spa

    A treatment room at Cowley Manor

    Cowley Manor

    Brave the outdoor pool at Hotel Portmeirion

    Hotel Portmeirion

    The Cheeky Nail Bar at The Ned

    The Ned

    Finn Lough is on the banks of Lough Erne

    Finn Lough

    The Mondrian spa embraces the Hollywood glamour of the hotel itself


    The clean white of Clivedon's spa


    The Roman Bath-style pool at Gainsborough Bath Spa

    Gainsborough Bath Spa

    Surrounded by 132 acres of parkland by the tranquil River Maine, 40 minutes from Belfast, the atmosphere at the 124-room Galgorm is refreshingly relaxed and jolly (it has a 400-strong gin library for one thing). Accommodation ranges from business-style bedrooms to Scandi-style cottages and rustic log cabins. There are five restaurants, including laid back Italian joint Fratellli and fancy 3 AA Rosette-awarded River Room, plus rousing live music each night at Gillies Pub.

    The propertys Spa Village is one of Europes largest thermal spas, and flashpoints include an outdoor infinity hydrotherapy pool, riverside hot tubs for leisurely soaks with a glass of fizz, an indoor pool, snow cabin, salt room, aroma grotto and herb caldarium. Massages use Aromatherapy Associates oil, and the Forest & Photo Therapy combines a massage with a no-touch Dermalux LED facial (where coloured lights are used to target concerns) and a mud mask. For post-relaxation fuel, order poke bowls and virgin watermelon margaritas at timber-dome restaurant Elements.

    Doubles from 178, B&B, including spa access.

    Sink into a hot tub with unbeatable sea views at The Scarlet (The Scarlet)

    A seaside break is an instant reviver, and the adults-only Scarlet, with its cliffside setting above Mawgan Porths butterscotch sands, eco-architecture and wonderful spa, is a breath of fresh air for the soul. The 39 rooms all pale wooden floorboards, decorated in mossy green and dusky blues each have a sea view, be it full-facing or from an upper-level sitting room.

    The spa also has seascape panoramas from the indoor pool, outdoor natural pool (freshwater, filtered by a living reed bed filtration system) and two cliff top hot tubs. Hour-long ayurvedic treatments (tasters of the normal four-hour journeys), and hot herb and oat-filled poultice massages take place in six treatment rooms. Afterwards, laze in slumber-inducing hanging canvas pods, do outdoor yoga and tai chi, or head out surfing. A visit to the restaurant for a cream tea is a must (just be sure to layer jam before clotted cream, in keeping with the Cornish tradition).

    Doubles from 210, B&B, including spa access.

    Rudding Park has opened a spa roof garden (Rudding Park)

    Historic Rudding Park, a quick drive from former spa town Harrogate, will suit spa junkies looking for a retreat with a modern, unstuffy vibe. The Georgian Hall turned 90-room property has comfortable rooms with colour-pop touches, 300 acres of gardens, a cinema, two golf courses and 3 AA Rosette Horto, where the likes of dainty Japanese seven-spice tempura courgettes and flower-strewn desserts are served.

    Its the innovative spa, fed in part by natural spring waters, thats the real masterstroke. Alongside an indoor pool, juniper log sauna, rasul (for mud masks and scrubs), nail studio and gym, there are audio meditation pods, an AV relaxation room and Mandala colour therapy zone. Outside on the shrub-filled rooftop, theres even more: a hydrotherapy pool, steam room, glass-fronted sauna with astonishing panoramas of the Yorkshire countryside, sunlight therapy room and oxygen pod. Treatments run the gamut from Elemis and hot stone massages to flower wraps, and for something completely different, there are bolt-on CBD-experiences too.

    Doubles from 348, B&B, including four hours spa access.

    Go Grecian at Chewton Glen (Chewton Glen)

    In 1990, long before it became de rigueur, Chewton Glen was one of the first country house hotels to create a purpose-built spa, and it has been winning accolades ever since. The straight-out-of-Austen hotel sits in 130 acres of grounds on the fringe of the New Forest National Park, and many ingredients used at the Dining Room come from the kitchen garden. Rooms range from traditional affairs with mallard-print cushions, mahogany furniture and rose colour palettes to kooky high-in-the-canopy tree house suites with hot tubs on the balconies.

    Fresh from a revamp, the 1,350sqm spa has a 17-metre Roman-style indoor lap pool, a hydrotherapy pool and outdoor whirlpool. On the spa menu are Jessica mani-pedis, Mii make-up sessions and oil massages. Cant decide? Book a slot and the therapist will craft something bespoke. Junior spa treatments, a nine-hole par 3 golf course and tennis courts also make Chewton a good family pick.

    Doubles from 370/tree houses from 1,150, B&B, including spa access.

    The indoor pool at Dormy House spa (Dormy House )

    A real bucolic charmer, this 39-room hotel just outside Broadway village is about as cosy and convivial as it gets. There are lounges with deep leather armchairs and flickering fires to retreat to after yomps through the Cotswolds countryside, and slow-food Back Garden restaurant for comforting celeriac and truffle risotto and apple tarte tatin. Bedrooms blend clean-lined Scandi-style interiors with exposed wooden beams, which nod to Dormy Houses 17th-century farmhouse roots.

    At the House Spa, theres a showstopper indoor infinity pool (candlelit for added zen), a bubbling hydrotherapy hot tub, well-equipped gym and thermal suite with Finnish cabin and salt steam room. The treatment menu includes Aaahhh! a sugar buff scrub and warm oil massage combo a soothing back cure massage (by Beata Aleksandrowicz), Gelish mani-pedis and from September a new flotation tank experience. Its hoped the full treatment list featuring Temple Spa and Natura Biss will be resumed soon.

    Doubles from 269, B&B, including spa access.

    South Lodge spa (Amy Murrell)

    Read more here:
    The best spa hotels in the UK for a relaxing staycation - The Independent

    Horror of honeysuckle: How to prevent the spread of this hellish invasive shrub – Herald Times Reporter - August 16, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Jenna Brandl, For USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin Published 8:16 a.m. CT Aug. 15, 2020

    UW-Manitowoc professor emeritus Chuck Sontag has been birding the Manitowoc lakeshore for decades. HTR News

    Honeysuckle, horrendous? I wouldnt have believed it a month ago, either.

    As a Woodland Dunes land management intern, I often interact with honeysuckle. The Tartarian and Bush honeysuckle, aka Lonicera sibirica tatarica and Lonicera sibirica latifolia, are two of the most common subspecies found in Wisconsin. These shrubs can range from 3 to 15 feet tall, which can make them look more like a tree than a shrub.

    How can you identify honeysuckle? Look to see if the leaves are 1 to 2-1/2inches long with an oval shape at the stem that leads to an abrupt pointed end. Their stems and branches aregrayish brown, have broad groovesand are thorn-less.

    Honeysuckle at Woodland Dunes Nature Center and Preserve in Two Rivers.(Photo: Jenna Brandl)

    May through June, these shrubs produce white or pink flowers that start to yellow as they age. In September and October, they produce red juicy berries in groups that usually occur at the leaf axil (where the leaf meets the twig). These elegant flowers are what some may say easy on the eyes, so why are these intricate shrubs so dangerous to our delicate ecosystems?

    Surprisingly, they are actually an invasive species that cover a broad range of habitats including roadsides, lakeshores, open woods, forest edgesand old fields. Countless people continue to plant these invasive shrubs, especially the Eurasian Bush honeysuckle, as ornamentals in their yards, which leads to the spread.

    Birds are no help, either. By eating the berries and flying from place to place, numerous species of birds spread honeysuckle twice as quickly. This makes the process of controlling their spread extremely difficult and why we typically find these plants at the bottom of trees that birds perch in.

    Honeysuckle is also hazardous for plants such as tree seedlings and wildflowers because they are known to alter the habitat around them by decreasing light sources, soil moistureand nutrients. According to the Wisconsin DNR, it is also possible that L. tatarica releases allelopathic chemicals that prevent the growth of other plants around them. Does this affect the growth of trees as well? It is hoped new research might arise to help solve this mystery, alongside my own investigation at the Woodland Dunes preserve.

    It might leave you flabbergasted to learn that honeysuckle is not your typical plant but an invasive to our wetlands, temperate forestsand prairie ecosystems in Wisconsin. Now you may be wondering, How do I control this invasive plant? The best way is the process of cutting the shrub stems and applying a herbicide treatment. It may be a tedious task to cut down the entire shrub, but it is the most effective way to kill the honeysuckle as a result of its multiple stems and large growth radius. For this treatment to be successful, all stems must be cut and treated with herbicide so no new growth is allowed to occur.

    After a month of combating these hellish shrubs, its my hope that others will begin to recognize and take steps to prevent the spread of honeysuckle.

    Jenna Brandl is asummer land management intern at Woodland Dunes Nature Center and Preserve in Two Rivers.



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    Horror of honeysuckle: How to prevent the spread of this hellish invasive shrub - Herald Times Reporter

    Poison Ivy: How to Recognize and Treat – theLoop - August 16, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    from White Plains Hospital:

    For those of us who hike, garden, or just enjoy being outdoors, theres a trio of troublesome plants spread across the country that can turn a pleasant day outside into a scratch-filled trip to the doctor.

    Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac may be different plants, but they have one thing in common urushiol. Urushiol is an oily sap found in the plants and according to the American Skin Association,85% of all Americans are allergic to it.If you come in contact with one of these plants, youre likely develop a rash within 12-72 hours.

    The signs and symptoms may include:

    Leaves of three, let it be

    Poison ivy grows throughout the United States, primarily east of the Rocky Mountains. It grows as hairy or fuzzy-looking vines or a shrub, and can be found in open fields, wooded areas, parks and backyards. The plants typically have smooth, almond-shaped leaves clustered in groups of three.

    Poison oak, on the other hand, is indigenous to the western part of the country, and also grows as a vine or shrub.Although poison oak looks similar to poison ivy, it has larger leaves that are more rounded, like that of an oak leaf. Like poison ivy, it also has a tri-clustered leaf arrangement, so make sure to remember the old saying, Leaves of three, let it be!

    The other urushiol carrying plant, poison sumac, is less common than poison oak and ivy and is mostly found in swamps in the southeastern part of the country. Poison sumac grows as a shrub or small tree with each stem containing 7 to 13 leaves arranged in pairs. Compared to poison ivy and poison oak, poison sumac has a greater potential to inflict a more severe rash.

    The initial treatment for someone who has been exposed to any of these plants is to rinse the infected area with lukewarm soapy water to remove the urushiol oil within 10 minutes of exposure, says Dr. Jennifer Camacho, Allergy and Immunology Specialist at Scarsdale Medical Group. Its also important to scrub under your fingernails to remove any remnants of urushiol oil. In addition, you should thoroughly clean clothing or any objects that may have come into contact with these plants, such as gardening tools camping equipment or pets.

    If youre working outside in wooded areas or locations with heavy foliage wear long pants, long sleeves, dont forget to wear boots and gloves for protection.

    Stop that itch

    If youre looking for relief from the itching and swelling caused by poison ivy, oak and sumac, calamine lotion is an over-the-counter medication that is convenient and affordable. While its not a cure, its main ingredient, zinc oxide, has a calming effect on the skin and helps dry out the rash caused by the plants.

    Other remedies include a hydrocortisone cream, or an oral antihistamine like Benadryl. You may also want to tryhome remedieslike a baking soda or an oatmeal bath, or try essential oils such as eucalyptus or chamomile. For those who prefer a do-it-yourself method, it may take three weeks or longer for a rash to resolve. However, if the rash does not dissipate on its own, or if you are having trouble breathing, develop a fever, or cant find relief from the discomfort and itchiness, consult your doctor.

    You should also see a doctor if the rash appears infected or spreads to your eyelids, lips or face, says Dr. Camacho. Your doctor may prescribe a high-potency steroid cream or an oral corticosteroid, such as prednisone, to accelerate your recovery.

    Originally posted here:
    Poison Ivy: How to Recognize and Treat - theLoop

    The future of wildfires: A cultural struggle to learn to live with fire – Summit Daily News - August 16, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The future of wildfires doesnt have to be calamitous or tragic.

    There are factors at play that point to a bad ending. The results of ongoing climate change and a history of questionable land-management policies are already impacting the kinds of wildfires were seeing today, often more frequent and more intense.

    But much is being done to brighten the outlook.

    Fire scientists are working to create more ambitious modeling systems to predict wildfire behavior and provide officials with a better understanding of how fires function. Firefighters are experimenting with new technologies that will track resources and pinpoint hazards in real time, and developing better ways to enhance their suppression techniques.

    As innovators work on creative solutions to deal with fires, others stress that one key to mitigating risk is more cultural: Can humans learn to better coexist with fire?

    Most people tend to assume that we have a choice not to have wildfires, that we can put it out, we have that choice, said Mark Finney, Ph.D. and research forester with the U.S. Forest Services Fire Sciences Lab in Missoula, Montana. The fact is every year, were reminded we dont have the choice. Its not within our power to keep fire out of our wildlands.

    The real choice that isnt often appreciated is our choice of when to have a fire and what kind to have. We have a choice of living with the kind that are both sustainable to our ecosystems and communities, or only living with the worst ones.

    Some of the biggest problems surrounding future wildfires are climate change, invasive species and fuel loading.

    The impacts of climate change could be far reaching. Warmer weather has resulted in earlier spring runoff, drier fuels and longer wildfire seasons. And experts say the trend of larger and more frequent wildfires is likely to continue.

    In higher elevation forests that are ripe with fuel sources, the climate is historically what has helped to keep wildfires in check.

    What weve seen looking at the trajectory going back through the past 50 years is that the fire season is getting longer, said Julie Korb, professor of biology at Fort Lewis College in Durango. When I first moved here 20 years ago, we would have snow in the High Country up to the Fourth of July, and then the monsoons hit. The fuel never had a chance to dry out.

    But across the West, what were seeing is that even in normal snow years, theres early spring runoff. As we keep broadening that gap from when theres snow on the ground to when we get precipitation in the summer, its going to increase the length of the wildfire season, and often affect the size and behavior of wildfires. They can move more rapidly, and once they get going, theyre not as easy for firefighters to attack.

    But climate change at lower elevations, which frequently deal with hot and dry conditions, also can have major impacts on wildfire behavior. Deborah Kennard, a professor of environmental science at Colorado Mesa University, said some ecosystems might never look the same after a wildfire.

    Kennard said crown fires in ponderosa pine forests are preventing seedling regeneration, which could convert those areas to shrub or grasslands. Fires in riparian areas along the Colorado River could spell the end of some cottonwood stands, which require flooding levels for regeneration that might no longer be realistic. And as the Pine Gulch Fire rages north of Grand Junction, there are concerns that drought could impede the regrowth of the pinyon-juniper habitat.

    We might be getting to a situation today where the climate may not be the same as it was when these woodlands were established, Kennard said. Those are going to possibly go through a type conversion to a different type of system.

    One major fear is that as changes in the climate inhibit the regeneration of natural vegetation, invasive species could start to take over in certain areas. In Colorado, one nonnative species causing trouble is cheatgrass, a highly flammable weed that can significantly impact native plants.

    The grass potentially could fill in traditionally barren areas that rely on fuel breaks in the landscape to keep fires at bay, creating more contiguous fuels and larger fires. And once the natural vegetation is dead, it might never return.

    The grass comes back right away and even better after a fire, Kennard said. That means that those other species cant get ahold. Once you get cheatgrass in an area, it increases the fire frequency and the fire size, and it makes it so much harder for other fuels to come back. It turns into an annual grassland that could burn every couple years.

    Climate change, I think, will be the overarching factor increasingly as we look forward to future wildfires because it will keep getting hotter and drier. But especially in Western Colorado and drier areas, climate change coupled with nonnative invasive species has a synergistic effect where we could see fires that are bigger than they would have been otherwise.

    A history of wildfire suppression over the past 100 years is also taking its toll on many modern forests, which were not allowed to burn naturally resulting in massive fuel loads capable of creating larger fires. Colorado residents have seen the results already.

    In 2002, the Hayman Fire northwest of Colorado Springs became the biggest recorded wildfire in the states history, burning more than 137,000 acres, 133 homes and costing about $40 million to suppress.

    In the Forest Services case study on the Hayman Fire, officials said it burned in rich and dry vegetation, resulting from the exclusion of fire over recent years, and called the blaze an example of a consequence of what is wrong with current forest management policy in this country.

    Repeat photography after more than a century or so of lapse shows tremendous changes in vegetation, Finney said. The trees in the forest are so dense now, and theres complete coverage over large parts of the terrain that at one point burned (frequently) enough to have a patchy structure to it.

    Were well beyond the point where we can get a head start on this. Looking back to something like the Hayman Fire, it was a direct consequence of having landscapes for tens of miles with very little management.

    While turning the tables against climate change is an endeavor further down the line, officials have begun to reshape the way they think about land management.

    As with modern day firefighting, creating a more positive future outlook on wildfires relies heavily on proactive solutions. Fuels reduction projects along the wildland-urban interface have become more commonplace over recent years and will continue to be one of the more important tools officials have to combat fires near developed areas.

    But some are calling for more cooperation from local, state and federal agencies to take a broader view in building resiliency across larger landscapes.

    There are so many areas that need treatment that we need to stop saying this is private land or state land or federal land, Korb said. We need to work across all lines to determine how were going to manage our landscapes. So when were talking about tackling these issues in the future, its really about forming this collaborative and working together to look at larger landscapes not 1,000- or even 10,000-acre parcels, but 100,000 to half-million acres to determine how to manage that to have the type of fires were willing to live with.

    Korb emphasized that resiliency might look different for varying types of forests and ecosystems and that there is not a one-size-fits-all prescription. In other words, the topography, fuel types and other factors in certain forests might call for more widespread human manipulation while others might be best left alone.

    While fuels are really the only major component of natural wildfires that humans have some direct control over, it makes sense to prioritize treatment projects as we look to the future. But officials also say that not all treatments necessarily have the same impact.

    Tree harvesting and the mechanical removal of fuel sources certainly have their place, but those treatments dont do much to remove finer fuels like grass and brush from the forest floor. Instead, some experts are pushing to allow more wildfires and prescriptive burns to create forest maintenance benefits.

    You can use chain saws and modern logging methods, but that doesnt really remove the fuel that wildfires depend on, Finney said. And once youre done thinning, then fire is the only way of maintaining fuel conditions and keeping the ecosystem running. One thing we know for sure is that fire plays an essential role in most of our ecosystems in the West, and theres just no substitute for it.

    But large-scale land-management overhauls and prescriptive fires are solutions easier said than done. In areas that already have embraced changes to management policies, officials say the funding to conduct the desired work is often difficult to come by. In other areas, where the strategies have been slow to take hold, officials say theyre still fighting a cultural war to inform the masses of the benefits of fire.

    This culture which consists of the public, elected officials, media and the fire agencies all come together in reacting to wildfires and determining what the acceptable responses are, Finney said. And they tend to react in a very predictable way: to try and put the fire out.

    When you try to change the appropriate response to fires, such as doing more prescribed burns or not putting a fire out, then the culture tends to react negatively to that. We have to change how we look at fires. The science is well developed. The obstacle to using that knowledge in a proactive fashion is almost entirely cultural.

    As experts toil away at creating better land-management practices, scientists in the field are hard at work trying to provide better tools to get the job done.

    If officials are going to use fire more proactively, providing them with an even better understanding of the underlying physical processes resulting in different wildfire behaviors is key.

    Fire is full of nonintuitive processes, said Torben Grumstrup, a Ph.D. and research mechanical engineer with the fire sciences lab in Montana. Its a very odd phenomenon, and its very normal for us to run into something that makes us say, What the heck is that? Something that just doesnt make sense. But as we dig deeper, we realize it does. Were learning more and more about fire behavior and ultimately we hope to update and modernize training with that knowledge.

    Scientists at the fire lab and elsewhere around the world are working to create newer computer modeling systems that can more accurately predict how a wildfire will behave in a given environment. Upgraded models would allow officials to realistically preview how a fire would react in different fuel types, topographies and weather conditions as well as fundamentally improve the way we plan fuel mitigation projects and fire breaks along the wildland-urban interface.

    Variations of this technology have existed for a while. Current models are still based on the foundational Rothermel surface fire spread model developed during the 1960s and early 1970s, but theres much that could be improved.

    Our understanding of fire has come a very long way, Grumstrup said. The advantage to the model is its very fast on the computer, and relatively simple and easy to run.The disadvantages are that there are some aspects of it that dont model fire in a realistic way. There are some parts that were developed as educated guesses. Its long past time to develop a new model.

    Grumstrup and his colleagues are actively working to develop a new modeling system that would incorporate more realistic physics, heat transfer, ignition processes and combustion properties. But as the underlying framework undergoes a facelift, better data collection is needed to power the model.

    On a more micro level, the lab is running experiments to determine how fast and long different sizes of fuels burn and how a flames orientation on a piece of wood plays a role. With Big Sandy, a 12-foot-long rotating table filled with sand, scientists are getting their best data yet on how the shape of flames and variable slopes are impacting heat transfer.

    On a macro level, officials are working to map fuel types and densities on a massive scale. Aerial mapping of fuel sources across the United States is updated every few years, and serves as a valuable tool for land managers and firefighters.

    In the mid-2000s, the Landfire project launched in partnership between wildland programs at the U.S. departments of agriculture and interior, and was tasked with providing comprehensive geospatial data to describe vegetation, wildland fuel and fire regimes across the country. But experts say more detail is needed to determine not just how much fuel is in an area but how it is arranged.

    The way we describe fuels right now is with the average loading, the average tons per acre of fuel across an area, Finney said. But that doesnt account for gaps or patchy structure in the landscape. The nonconformity is not captured. Through some of these much more high-resolution images, we can capture special arrangements of fuels that are sufficiently detailed to do a good job modeling whether a fire can spread or not.

    To that end, researchers are relying on new technologies in aerial imagery to help. In smaller areas, light detection and ranging systems are allowing officials to get detailed 3D maps by reflecting lasers off the treetops from the air. Other techniques rely on aerial photographs taken from different angles that are later constructed into 3D structures of the landscape. Once detailed fuels mapping is complete, experts can distill the information into their more sophisticated wildfire modeling systems.

    Were hoping in a couple years well be satisfied enough to release (the model) to the world, Grumstrup said. And we think it would be a revolution in how we model fires.

    Learning to live with wildfires doesnt mean letting them run unimpeded. In high-risk areas along the wildland-urban interface or near important watersheds, fires will always call for a strong suppression effort.

    Firefighters also are working with new technologies to do their jobs safer and more efficiently. One of the newest tools breaking its way into the firefighting scene is the Android Team Awareness Kit developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory to help track friendly individuals on the ground during airstrikes.

    Firefighters in Colorado already have begun using the kit and similar technologies in pilot deployments. The system essentially allows officials to keep track of all of their resources including firefighters and aircraft in real time, providing better spatial awareness and allowing individuals to update conditions and threats.

    If I have a safety officer on a hill watching us work, instead of him communicating that theres a spot beyond some trees to go to if things get bad, he can actually put a point on a map that pops up on everyones phone, said Ben Miller, director at the Colorado Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting. From the command post where they have the bigger perspective, they can look at lightning or high winds coming in, and they can show us that information within seconds on our map.

    Spatial awareness tools also are helping firefighters implement other military technologies in their practices. The ability for officials to point out detailed locations of power lines and topographical hazards paired with night vision could soon allow helicopter missions after dark.

    With operations often in remote areas, firefighters are also experimenting with new equipment that would allow them to detect strong cellular networks nearby and deploy radios to boost the signal to make sure all firefighters are kept in the loop. Similarly, new drone programs are in the works that would allow firefighters to get more eyes on the fire from the air and serve as pseudo-communication satellites.

    Down the line, options like Starlink, a satellite internet initiative being developed by SpaceX, would provide firefighters in the backcountry with connectivity independent of cell sites on the ground.

    We want to get to the point where when somebody has something to report, they can just point their camera at it, Miller said. And not only would everybody be able to see what theyre talking about, but it could actually triangulate that image so everybody knows what theyre seeing and where exactly it is.

    In regard to actually attacking the wildfires, firefighters are also looking for ways to do more with the tools they have. One way is through experimenting with new water enhancers, essentially a type of gel that firefighters can mix with water from any source en route to make it evaporate slower and more effectively douse flames.

    With the changing climate, we think the future holds more fires and bigger fires, Miller said. Our challenge from a technology perspective is really about researching and potentially employing new technologies that make us safer, faster and more efficient.

    As we look to what the coming years might bring, the challenges facing tomorrows firefighters are considerable.

    Wildfires are a matter of when and not if. And Coloradans and others throughout the West will continue to be confronted by that fact.

    But thanks to the work being done by scientists, firefighters and land-management experts, we have a choice in what kind of fires well see and better tools to learn to live alongside them.

    If we know more, we can do better, Finney said. We can explain it in more detail. We can provide better foundations and expertise. But the bottom line is that human beings are going to have to utilize the science behind wildfires a lot more and be smart about how we interact with them. That is inherent to the challenges were going to face with the future of wildfires.

    Editors note: This is part four of a four-part series about wildfires. Read more at

    Read more from the original source:
    The future of wildfires: A cultural struggle to learn to live with fire - Summit Daily News

    Rewilding: rare birds return when livestock grazing has stopped – The Conversation UK - June 9, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    After a particularly long week of computer based work on my PhD, all I wanted was to hike somewhere exciting with a rich wildlife. A friend commiserated with me I was based at Newcastle University at the time, and this particular friend wasnt keen on the UKs wilderness, its moorlands and bare uplands, compared to the large tracts of woodland and tropical forests that can be found more readily abroad.

    Luckily, I count myself among many who are charmed by the rolling heather moorlands and sheep grazed uplands, whose colours change beautifully with the seasons. But my friend had a point there is something very different about many of the UKs national parks compared to those found in much of the rest of the world: the British uplands are hardly the natural wilderness that many perceive.

    These upland habitats are in fact far from what they would have been had they remained unaffected by human activity. In particular, grazing by livestock has been carried out for centuries. In the long run, this stops new trees from establishing, and in turn reduces the depth of soil layers, making the conditions for new vegetation to establish even more difficult. Instead of the woodlands that would once have covered large areas of the uplands, Britain is largely characterised by rolling hills of open grass and moorlands.

    Read more: 'Pristine' landscapes haven't existed for thousands of years, says new study

    Government policy has long been to keep these rolling hills looking largely as they do now. But the future of the British uplands is uncertain. Regulations and government policy strongly influences land management, and the biodiversity associated with it. In fact, the management required to maintain British upland landscapes as they are now management that largely involves grazing by sheep is only possible through large subsidies. And due to Brexit, this may change. A new agricultural policy will soon replace the often-criticised Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

    What this will look like remains unclear. There are a range of competing interests in the uplands. Some wish to rewild vast swathes of the land, while others want to intensify farming, forestry and other commercial interests. The rewilders tap into the increased interest in restoring natural woodland due to its potential in carbon uptake, increased biodiversity and reintroduction of extinct species such as wolves and lynxes, while some farmers argue that this will be bad for the economy. The UK stands at a crossroads, and interests are rapidly diverging.

    Whatever path is taken will obviously have an impact on the unique assemblages of upland plants and animals, many of which are internationally important. But upland birds and biodiversity have for a long time been on the decline. Whether rewilding is the answer to this or not has long been debated: some claim that we need to stop grazing animals to allow the natural habitat to reassert itself, while others claim that some species, such as curlews, rely on such grazing practises for their survival.

    This article is part of Conversation InsightsThe Insights team generates long-form journalism derived from interdisciplinary research. The team is working with academics from different backgrounds who have been engaged in projects aimed at tackling societal and scientific challenges.

    But our new research, published in the British Ecological Societys Journal of Applied Ecology, provides the first experimental evidence to our knowledge, that stopping livestock grazing can increase the number of breeding upland bird species in the long term, including birds of high conservation importance, such as black grouse and cuckoo. This is interesting, as it is often argued that land abandonment can result in lower biodiversity and that livestock grazing is essential for maintaining it.

    Our research shows that, depending on how the uplands are managed, there will be bird winners and losers, but overall when sheep have gone the number of bird species returning increases.

    Before going into the research itself, its important to consider the history of British upland land management. Truly natural habitats in the UK are few and relatively small. Deciduous woodland, and to a lesser extent coniferous forests, used to cover most of the British uplands below the treeline. For example, only about 1% of the native pine forests that once covered 1.5 million hectares (15,000km) of the Scottish Highlands remain today.

    These woodlands provided homes for charismatic species such as pine marten, red squirrel and osprey, together with now extinct species such as lynx and bears. But centuries of farming has shaped most of the upland landscape to what it is today: a predominantly bare landscape dominated by moorlands, rough grasslands, peatlands and other low vegetation.

    These marginal areas tend to have low financial profitability for those who farm the land. And so a range of other activities, such as grouse shooting and commercial forestry, exist to boost rural community incomes.

    Despite their low profitability, however, many grazed areas are considered to represent high nature value farming. This seems paradoxical, but basically means they are considered important as habitats to protected species benefiting from open upland landscapes. One such species is the iconic curlew.

    Because farming is tough in the uplands and its a struggle to make a profit, landowners receive, and often rely on, subsidies to maintain their farms. The form of these subsidies has changed over time, in line with the current perception of appropriate land management for food production. At the moment, the scale of these subsidies are based on the size of the farm, but they also require that the farmer maintains the land in a good agricultural state. This leaves little room for shrubs or trees, except along field edges, especially in England where there is no financial support for agroforestry (where trees are integrated in agricultural land).

    Read more: Why massive effort needs to be put into growing trees on farms

    But these subsidies will soon no longer be allocated through the EU and so its time to reconsider what kind of land management should be supported. It seems sensible to consider introducing financial support for other land management types, such as reforestation, natural regeneration or wildflower meadows. Such habitats have other public and nature conservation benefits.

    Its not just farming and aesthetics that are at stake here. Challenges such as climate change and air pollution should also inform how financial support for appropriate land management is managed. For example, floods are predicted to become more common as the climate gets warmer. Reforestation can help to diminish floods, the roots channelling water down through the soil instead of letting it run off the land. Re-establishment of woodlands can also improve air quality: the leaves absorb harmful gases such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

    But rewilding, or any form of restructuring land management, can be costly. It therefore needs to be based on the best scientific evidence, preferably from well-designed experimental research studies. In controlled experimental studies, the cause for any effects found can more easily be determined, as opposed to observational studies, which risk being biased by other, confounding, factors. But due to the cost and complexity of maintaining them, long-term, experimentally manipulated land use studies are rare, and with it the necessary evidence base for long-term management decisions.

    Ive been lucky to be involved in one such long-term experiment. The Glen Finglas experiment, managed by the James Hutton Institute, was set up in 2002 in Scotlands Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The experiment examines the long-term ecological impacts of different livestock grazing intensity levels on plants, arthropods (insects and spiders), birds and mammals. These grazing levels reflect the conventional stocking rate in the region at the start of the experiment (about three ewes per ha), low intensity grazing at a third of the conventional stocking rate (with sheep only or both sheep and cattle), or no grazing at all.

    The experiment has six replicates of four grazing treatments and covers around 0.75km of land, with 12km of fencing. This may not seem large, but in experimental terms, it is. According to Robin Pakeman, a researcher at the James Hutton Institute who manages the project, the experiment constitutes an unrivalled resource to understand how grazing impacts on a whole range of organisms.

    Since the start, the Glen Finglas experiment has shown that grazing intensity affects plants and the amount of insects and spiders. The highest amount of plants, insects and spiders were found in the ungrazed areas. This was not too surprising as grazing livestock removes vegetation, which results in reduced habitat conditions for insects and spiders overall (although some species benefit from grazing).

    There have also been studies on carbon storage, vole abundances and fox activity within the experiment. These have shown higher carbon storage and higher fox activity in the ungrazed areas.

    Meanwhile, the research on birds within this experiment has, from the start, focused on meadow pipits. These small, brown birds are the house sparrows of the uplands, yet often go unnoticed. But they are the most common upland bird and an important part of upland food webs, forming key prey for birds of prey such as hen harriers and a common host for cuckoos. The experiment has provided unique insights into the ecology of this fascinating little bird, and a much clearer understanding of how it is affected by grazing.

    In just the first two to three years, it became clear that meadow pipits could be affected by grazing intensity. My PhD supervisor, Darren Evans, found that the breeding density and egg size were both positively affected by low intensity mixed cattle and sheep grazing. But there were no differences in how many meadow pipit chicks were produced and fledged between the grazing treatments, at least not in the very early phase of the experiment.

    I wanted to test whether these results changed in the longer term. Together with colleagues from Newcastle University, the British Trust for Ornithology, The James Hutton Institute and The University of Aberdeen, we looked at whether 12 years of continuous experimental grazing management had affected the breeding success of meadow pipits.

    We assumed that low intensity grazing, compared to high intensity or no grazing, was most beneficial for pipit breeding productivity. We found the low intensity grazed areas did indeed seem to be better for meadow pipits, but the effects were not clear enough to be statistically significant. And there seemed to be potentially more important factors, such as predation, affecting their breeding outcome.

    But although we did not initially set out to test it, we found other, more significant, effects on the wider bird community.

    When the experiment started, there were almost no bird species other than meadow pipits in and around the treatment areas, hence the focus on them. But in 2015, while looking for meadow pipit nests, we came across a few other beautiful nests in the low intensity grazed areas. These nests had colourful blue eggs or eggs that appeared to have been painted with dark brown watercolour paint. These turned out to be stonechat and reed bunting eggs, two bird species that had not previously been seen in the experiment.

    Later on, we saw that they had fledged successfully: the parents would call them to warn about human intruders. If we didnt get too close, the newly fledged young would curiously nudge their heads up through the vegetation. By this stage of the experiment 12 years in the vegetation had actually become quite dense and high in the ungrazed and some of the low intensity grazed areas.

    We also detected several black grouse nests, mainly in the ungrazed areas. Most of them were already hatched, but one had a female who bravely stayed put on her eggs every time we visited this area until they hatched.

    Another great discovery was when we found a meadow pipit nest with one egg that seemed oddly big in comparison to the rest of the clutch. We were really excited to realise that it had been visited by a cuckoo that had laid an egg there, which hadnt happened during the early years of nest monitoring in the experiment. This egg had a brown spotted pattern which was fascinatingly similar to the meadow pipit eggs. (As exciting as this all may seem, nest searching should only be carried out under permit. I also had a bird ringing permit covering my research activities).

    Thanks to all these encounters, we decided to test how the different grazing treatments affected the species richness of breeding birds. Over the first two years, we found that there was basically no difference. But another decade on and there were clearly more bird species found in the ungrazed areas compared to the other experimental plots.

    It was not only bird species richness that needed time to respond to the change in grazing management. Although plant structure responded early, it was not until 2017 14 years since the experiment began that an effect on plant species richness could be detected. In this case, the variety of species was greater in the intensively grazed areas, probably because the livestock holds back fast-growing plants from dominating. Whether this would remain the same in another decade is far from clear.

    The ungrazed areas in our study, meanwhile, showed more shrub and tall-growing plants after a bit more than a decade. There were also patches of deciduous tree species, which were not there when the experiment commenced.

    Rewilding is such a fractious debate because of the difficulty in obtaining solid scientific evidence on which to base decisions. It takes a very long time far longer than our political cycles, most research studies, perhaps even a lifetime to determine what the ultimate effects of large scale land management on the environment are. In our experiment, changes have been very slow. Pakeman explained to me that this is partly expected in cold and infertile habitats but another reason for slow responses is that plant communities exist in a sort of mosaic, with each community having a different preference for the grazers. He continued:

    The long history of grazing has meant that the most highly preferred communities show little response to grazing removal as they have lost species capable of responding to this change.

    There is no one management practice which creates the perfect environment. Some bird species (skylark and snipe) were only found in grazed areas. Other species were more abundant in the ungrazed areas. There is no one size fits all.

    But much more consideration and effort needs to be given to unattended land and its potential for boosting biodiversity. There is no single answer to what is the best alternative, but our experiment indicates that a mosaic of different grazing types and shrub or woodland would be more suitable if the aim is to increase biodiversity, carbon uptake and habitats for endangered species.

    The experiment also showed that changing the management had no effects on plant diversity and bird species richness in the first years. But this may only be the beginning of the transformation. Another decade of no grazing may result in even higher, or lower, species richness. This shows how important it is to be patient in receiving the effects of land management on plants and wildlife.

    Our results bring some experimental evidence to the debate around sheep farming versus rewilding. Hopefully, decisions around new policies and subsidy systems will be based on such evidence. As new policies are formed, there will inevitably always be winners and losers, among both humans and wildlife, according to which habitat types receive more support.

    Biodiversity is incredibly important. It creates a more resilient ecosystem that can withstand external stresses caused by both humans and nature. It also keeps populations of pollinators strong. At the moment, perhaps the most current and urgent reason is that it could be instrumental in protecting us from future pandemics. A wider range of species prevents unnatural expansions of single species, which can spill over their diseases to humans.

    But preserving biodiversity is just one element of long-term environmental aims. Other processes, such as increased flood protection and carbon storage, which both can be achieved through more vegetation, may soon become more prevalent.

    There are therefore several biological processes pointing towards public gain from increasing the area of unmanaged land. Across Europe, land is being abandoned due to low profitability in farming it. There are predictions that the amount of abandoned land in Europe will increase by 11% (equivalent to 200,000km or 20 million ha) by 2030. This is often reported negatively, but it does not have to be. The problem most people see with land abandonment or rewilding is the decrease in food productivity, which will have to increase in order to feed a growing human population.

    But as Richard Bunting at the charity Rewilding Britain explained to me, a decline in food production could be avoided, while increasing the areas subject to rewilding to 10,000km (a million hectares) by the end of the century:

    Were working for the rewilding of a relatively small proportion of Britains more marginal land. One million hectares may sound like a lot, but there are 1.8 million hectares [18,000km] of deer stalking estates and 1.3 million hectares [13,000km] of grouse moors in Britain. In England alone, there are 270,000 hectares [2,700km] of golf courses.

    Read more: Climate crisis: how to make space for 2 billion trees on a crowded island like the UK

    As farmers and other upland land owners may be opposed to the idea of rewilding, I also asked him how this would work in practice. He told me that he believes farming and rewilding could work well together, but he had some caveats:

    We do need conversations around fresh approaches to the way farming is carried out and how land is used. A key point here is that for farmers, engaging with rewilding should always be about choice, as we seek a balance between people and the rest of nature where each can thrive.

    There are many ways to rewild. The Woodland Trust have been successful in restoring ancient woodlands and planting new trees by protecting them from large herbivores such as deer and livestock. Another method is to let nature have its way without intervening at all. This has been successful in restoring natural habitats, including woodland, such as the Knepp estate in West Sussex, which Isabella Tree has made famous in her book Wilding.

    After 19 years of no conventional management, The Knepp estate now hosts a vast range of wildlife, including all five native owl species, the rare purple emperor butterfly and turtle doves. Large herbivores, including both livestock and deer, graze the area on a free-roaming level. These animals are replacing the large natural herbivores such as aurochs, wisent and wild boar which would have grazed the area thousands of years ago.

    So there is room for discussion on what environmental and financial benefits there may be of different rewilding, or woodland restoration projects, and where they are most suitable.

    The first thing to do, I think, is to diversify the types of land management championed by the government through subsidy. Natural habitats could be increased through more financial benefits to landowners for leaving land unattended, while improving public interest in visiting woodlands and thereby the support for preserving wild habitats.

    Meanwhile, long-term research of land-use change would give us a better evidence base for future decisions. But this must go hand in hand with much needed serious evaluations of rural communities long-term income opportunities under alternative management scenarios, which will always be a cornerstone in land use politics.

    For you: more from our Insights series:

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    See the article here:
    Rewilding: rare birds return when livestock grazing has stopped - The Conversation UK

    Why is this tree leaning? How to stake new trees: Ask an expert – - May 29, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    What a spring its been and gardening has just begun. If youve got questions, turn to Ask an Expert, an online question-and-answer tool from Oregon State Universitys Extension Service. OSU Extension faculty and Master Gardeners reply to queries within two business days, usually less. To ask a question, simply go to the OSU Extension website and type in a question and the county where you live. Here are some questions asked by other gardeners. Whats yours?

    Why is this currant leaning?OSU Extension Service

    Q: During this recent rainy stretch my red flowering currant has taken a dramatic lean to the east so that the trunks are at about a 60-degree angle to the ground. This is a 2-year-old plant that is about 6 feet tall and still growing fast. Other than this tipping, it appears healthy and robust. It is planted in part shade, in native soil, and close to a neighbors garage, which is directly to the south of the plant. Part (not all) of one lateral root to the west of the trunk is now visible above the soil. The now-tipped plant is encroaching in space for other plants (a bleeding heart and a huckleberry). The soil is wet but not water-logged or particularly loose. Should I try to stake the currant? Are there other options you would suggest? Multnomah County

    A: Staking in this situation is a good idea. A couple of issues are relevant here. One is to minimize disruption and damage to the plants in the ground at the base. The other is whether you should use a single sturdy wooden stake available from local garden centers or several smaller stakes that surround the shrub. This article includes a visual to provide an example of one type of staking and support bindings. Perhaps in this situation a large single stake can be sunk behind the plant and bound securely to the stems with available straps. Garden centers in our area may be able to offer professional tips to ensure that the plant is properly staked and continues to grow properly.

    Staking and watering of new tree plantings are important questions. This website and this one will provide you with the research-based answers to these questions. Staking is a temporary way to provide the tree support while the root system gets established. It should be loose enough to allow the tree to move a little but rigid enough to keep the tree from snapping off in the wind. Trees should be watered deeply for the first two to three years until the roots are established. The roots must be kept moist but not so wet that they cant receive oxygen from the soil. Jack Shorr, OSU Extension Master Gardener

    Q: Asking specifically Willamette Valley or Portland Metro area, do you know of any studies about the effectiveness of treatments vs. removal of affected birch trees? Once the borer larvae are in the cambium of the birch, is the tree likely to survive, even if treated with insecticide? Would leaving a host tree be more detrimental for the overall urban canopy? Any studies on this would be much appreciated. Multnomah County

    A: Here's the best info OSU has on bronze birch borer, though it's focused on the Klamath Basin

    I don't know of any studies to pass on to you.

    The insects generally are a problem for trees that are already stressed from drought, soil compaction damage, age, etc.

    If you are seeing major dieback, the tree is already on its way out and insecticide treatments will only prolong the situation.

    For me, Id remove affected trees and plant something else. Weston Miller, OSU Extension horticulturist

    The tree has oak leaf blister mites.OSU Extension Service

    Q: We have a young scarlet oak tree that we planted last year. It seemed to be growing well and then we noticed this spring as it started to get new leaves that it started to slump over at the top and also get these weird markings on some of the leaves. Is the tree sick? Do you have any advice on how to help it? Multnomah County

    A: The tree has oak leaf blister mites. Although their damage may be considered unsightly, it doesn't affect the health of the tree. No treatment is recommended.

    The top of the tree is bent over because the load of new leaves is too heavy for such a spindly stem. Perhaps the tree was grown in too shady a site.

    You can reduce the load on the stem by thinning out the end growth.

    It appears that the tree is tied to the support stakes with either a wire or cord. That should be changed to a wide stretchable tie, perhaps a section of old hose (but without a wide inside), a strip of bicycle inner tube, or a broad flexible commercial tie. Jean R. Natter, OSU Extension Master Gardener diagnostician

    Subscribe to Oregonian/OregonLive newsletters and podcasts for the latest news and top stories

    See the rest here:
    Why is this tree leaning? How to stake new trees: Ask an expert -

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