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Summary

Paul calls Alan Booker up to talk about the BBB, but decided to talk about the wildfires in the USA instead.

Boot camp currently full – person who replies to invitation email within 24 hours and has been on the waiting list longest gets to go to boot camp.  You’ll even get the top bunk!

Current forestry practices include logging the area (thin out trees that are least suited to for logs and leave the better ones, repeat every few years until the best are left), fuel reduction (clear dead and patches of sick trees), and silvopasture (reduce tree count by 75%, allowing faster tree growth and use the floor as pasture, think savannah).  However, conifers are allopathic so they tend to hamper growth of other plants around them making them not the best trees for silvopasture.  Another, though rarely used fire control method used in forestry is to feed junk wood to masticators instead of burning it.  A masticator is a machine that flattens and perforates wood to encourage even decomposition.  Wood processed like this is almost impossible to ignite and instead of polluting the air with smoke, it helps support the soil.

Wildfires are hardly new, so what happened regarding fires 500 years ago?  Alan cites the book “Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge” which claims that the native tribes of the Californian area widely used fire to control local vegetation and to open up a wide array of more useful plants for them.  

In a hypothetical scenario in which both Paul and Alan own a million acres of conifer forest in western Oregon, Paul would break the area up into 100-acre chunks, bring in 10 000 people to manage the 10 000 chunks, then move towards bringing down the chunk size to roughly 10 acres.  Goal is to leave it as something other than a conifer desert.

Continued in part 2

Relevant Threads

Fire Protection: safeguarding our home and property

Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge thread
Bootcamp thread

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COMMENTS:
 
pollinator
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That part about the 'clumpyness of human beings' I found very interesting. Could you have more podcasts on that subject?
 
pollinator
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Can Alan be on every episode from here on out?
 
pollinator
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What is a masticator? Sounds like a suessian machine I could use...
 
pollinator
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It's so weird that pines are a climax species.  I never really thought about that, but they were here before deciduous trees, yes?  If you ask most people which species they would think would exist after a while of competition, they would probably say the broadleaf one that evolved later and out-competed the pine needle one and optimized its leaf size and shed the leaves in winter to avoid snow weight damage.  But that's not what's happened.  I really hope the podcast talks about why this is but I just had to post in case it doesn't get talked about.  OK, now going back to listening.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
pollinator
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:It's so weird that pines are a climax species.  I never really thought about that, but they were here before deciduous trees, yes?  If you ask most people which species they would think would exist after a while of competition, they would probably say the broadleaf one that evolved later and out-competed the pine needle one and optimized its leaf size and shed the leaves in winter to avoid snow weight damage.  But that's not what's happened.  I really hope the podcast talks about why this is but I just had to post in case it doesn't get talked about.  OK, now going back to listening.


Joshua, maybe the 'evolution theory' doesn't explain everything that happens. Maybe it even isn't right. And maybe in one region pine trees are the climax species, but in other regions they aren't.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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Could be.  But they seem to be here and in Montana.  I think the evolution theory (the "survival of the fittest" hypothesis part) is what needs reevaluating, there's much more cooperation in ecosystems than Darwin's model suggested, or more cooperation than the commonly understood Darwinian model.  It reminds me of Carl Ratner's point that most of human interaction is also cooperative, even in wars massive numbers of humans cooperate together for a common goal, but we tend to only look at the competitive part and overlook the cooperation.  Even outlaws probably stop for most traffic lights, unless in a high-speed car chase, and conifers have been documented supplying nutrients to deciduous if my memory serves (using radioactive tracing of nutrients).  

Maybe even the notion of a "climax species" is oversimplification, since there's always something that can happen next.  Fire, reforestation, even human disturbance that knocks down the climax species and opens up space for grasses and shrubs.  It's so habitual to think in simplistic ways, but then nature goes and flies in the face of our thinking.  

Maybe worth taking a look at the whole of evolution through the lense of cooperation to see what new observations show up, and to correct for a bias of only looking through a competition lense.  .  .good thinking means deliberate walking around one's confirmation bias.  

My intuitive feeling about it is that the pines cooperate with the deciduous and evolved a part of themselves to go beyond their needled form to expand the variety of the ecosystem as a whole.  

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:It's so weird that pines are a climax species.  I never really thought about that, but they were here before deciduous trees, yes?  If you ask most people which species they would think would exist after a while of competition, they would probably say the broadleaf one that evolved later and out-competed the pine needle one and optimized its leaf size and shed the leaves in winter to avoid snow weight damage.  But that's not what's happened.  I really hope the podcast talks about why this is but I just had to post in case it doesn't get talked about.  OK, now going back to listening.


Joshua, maybe the 'evolution theory' doesn't explain everything that happens. Maybe it even isn't right. And maybe in one region pine trees are the climax species, but in other regions they aren't.

 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
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Ran across some more interesting quotes about forests.

"When Douglas fir seedlings were stripped of their leaves and thus likely to die, they transferred stress signals and a substantial sum of carbon to nearby ponderosa pine, which subsequently accelerated their production of defensive enzymes. "--NYTimes magazine article "The Social Life of Forests" on research of Suzanne Simard.  

Bill Mollison writes that we don't know forests very well, compared to rivers or grasslands, and should ideally have closer to forty words for forests to understand what's really going on.
 
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I just listened to this episode on a long drive through northern BC where we have a "strong" forestry industry. The points made by Alan and Paul about breaking up the monoculture really resonated with me as I drove by cutblock after cutblock of monoculture replantings. My family frequently travels through the backcountry for days to months on both skis and horses, and we have seen the hidden devastation this industry standard has caused. This is hard to see from the road sometimes, the forestry industry makes great efforts to reduce the amount of cutblocks that can be seen from the highways, but as soon as you get back into the mountains you can see that they are taking out basically everything below 1400 meters (the current caribou habitat closure elevation). Have a look at some recent satellite imagery using a highways overlay and you will see how adept the industry has become at hiding their "harvest" from the eyes of the public. Cut blocks that have been replanted with a monoculture are not only fire prone, but also extremely hard to traverse, for both humans and wildlife, the caribou are extirpating mainly because of habitat destruction. It hurts me on a deep visceral level to think about this, I often come to tears, and think of the devastation and heartbreak that is due over the coming years due to wildfire, habitat destruction and loss of diversity.

But I digress..

I thought this podcast was excellent, one of my favourites so far. Thank you Paul and Alan!

One thing that I'd like to hear more about is how it is envisioned that wildfires would behave in the new theoretical landscape created on these 2 million acres. My understanding is that the purpose of this type of permaculture/ecoculture style management is to reduce the damages due to wildfire, not to eliminate them altogether. So especially when discussing the degree of "clumpiness", how would these communities be distributed to avoid wildfire damage?  One of the biggest problems in California right now is that there are many human structures scattered throughout places they shouldn't be, like jumping in a lake and wondering why you got wet. How would distributing people at a density of 1 per 10 acres in a heavily forested, albeit well managed, landscape be different? If there are grazing ruminants with junkpole fences distributed throughout this landscape, how would this ecoculture design ensure that the wildlife has migration corridors to use to flee in the event of a wildfire? Would fires be ignited by the humans after evacuating certain areas to reduce the damages due to an unplanned fire? Would the beavers be managed to pattern the wetlands towards fire safety?

This is a fascinating discussion that I hope will become commonplace in the years to come.
 
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