What can we do for the trees?
We don’t subscribe to television services here at home. The only way I stay partially informed is via the BBC News website. Thus it was a few days ago I saw the headline, “European forests near ‘carbon saturation point’” This was a report by Mark Kinver, Environment reporter, BBC News. It made me sit up and take notice. For Mark Kinver wrote:
European forests are showing signs of reaching a saturation point as carbon sinks, a study has suggested.
Since 2005, the amount of atmospheric CO2 absorbed by the continent’s trees has been slowing, researchers reported.
Writing in Nature Climate Change, they said this was a result of a declining volume of trees, deforestation and the impact of natural disturbances.
Carbon sinks play a key role in the global carbon cycle and are promoted as a way to offset rising emissions.Many of Europe’s forests are reaching an age where growth, and carbon uptake, slows down.
Writing in their paper, the scientists said the continent’s forests had been recovering in recent times after centuries of stock decline and deforestation.
The growth had also provided a “persistent carbon sink”, which was projected to continue for decades.
However, the team’s study observed three warnings that the carbon sink provided by Europe’s tree stands was nearing a saturation point.
It would be wrong to republish the full report but do go and read it here. It contains much information, some of it counter-intuitive. Such as Dr. Gert-Jan Nabuurs from Wageningen University and Research Centre, Netherlands saying of Europe’s forest;
“These forests have now reached 70-80 years old and are starting a phase in the life of a tree where the growth rate starts to come down,” he explained.
“So you have large areas of old forest and even if you add these relatively small areas of new forest, this does not compensate for the loss of growth rate in the old forests.”
The report includes the glaringly obvious, “However, mature woodlands have been recognised as a key habitat for supporting and conserving biodiversity.”!
The issue of knowing what is best for the wildlife, of all types and sizes, of balancing doing nothing to the forest or undertaking beneficial husbandry is one that is going to be in our minds here at home this coming Winter.
For much of our 13 acres is forest, as the following property map shows.
When we first moved in to the house last October, the most common wild large creatures around were the deer. The only way one could get close enough to take a photograph was when there wasn’t a dog in sight. Even then, the slightest sudden sound or movement had a deer dashing into the forest.
Yet over the following weeks, the healthy grass made an irresistible Winter meal and the deer settled down to being regular visitors. But always within a few leaps and bounds of the edge of the trees.
Nevertheless, the deer remained very cautious of feeding during the daytime as they soon became aware that without warning dogs could come rushing out from the house; as happened numerous times! It seemed clear that having the forest close by enabled them to scatter as soon as the first bark was heard.
Months later, shown by this photograph taken early afternoon just a couple of weeks ago, these four wild deer still grazed close to the forest.
So this Autumn/Fall we shall be coming up with a plan to ensure that the forests on our property are reinvigorated to the best of our abilities.