Friday, October 19, 2018

Other Groups Working on Forest Issues

There are a lot of other groups working on California forest issues like we are. Here's a growing list:

New Products from Small-Diameter Wood

CLT and biochar are interesting enough, but there are some crazy new wood products out there, too...

Fungus Bricks


Made from fungus and sawdust, Phil Ross' recipe makes extremely durable furniture and building materials from a forest waste product.

The company, MycoWorks, also makes leather from fungus and waste fiber.





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Cutting Edge Materials Science with Wood

STRONG: "Some varieties of wood, such as oak and maple, are renowned for their strength. But scientists say a simple and inexpensive new process can transform any type of wood into a material stronger than steel, and even some high-tech titanium alloys."

CLEAR: "Because MMA’s index of refraction (a measure of how much it bends light) matches that of the lignin-free wood, rays of light pass right through the MMA-infused composite instead of getting bounced around inside empty cells. This renders the [treated wood] material remarkably clear." 

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Carbon Fiber from Wood Precursors

Oakridge National Labs is working on reducing the cost and manufacturing time of carbon fiber, which is a magnificently strong and light material, but currently prohibitive for mass production. Their research includes a focus on less expensive precursors including wood lignin, a waste product of the paper industry.


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Plastic Packaging from Wood

"Microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) consists of plant fibres that are only 100 nanometres in diameter, but can be extremely long, making them highly suitable as a reinforcement material for biodegradable plastics.

MFC membranes have also been shown to be impermeable to gases such as oxygen and can therefore be used to protect foodstuffs.

Most of today’s plastics are petroleum-based, but scientists are now trying to create a climate-friendly alternative to plastics from renewable resources - bioplastic and (MFC)."

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Nanocrystalline Cellulose (NCC)

"The new [paper-making] method involves breaking down wood pulp with enzymes and then fragmenting it using a mechanical beater. The shear forces produced cause the cellulose to gently disintegrate into its component fibres.

The end result is undamaged cellulose fibres suspended in water. When the water is drained away...the fibres join together into networks held by hydrogen bonds, forming flat sheets of 'nanopaper'.

Mechanical testing shows it has a tensile strength of 214 megapascals, making it stronger than cast iron (130 MPa) and almost as strong as structural steel (250 MPa).

Normal paper has a tensile strength less than 1 MPa.


The secret to the nanopaper’s performance is not only the strength of the undamaged cellulose fibres, but also they way they are arranged into networks. Although strongly bound together, they are still able to slip and slide over each other to dissipate strains and stresses."

It even conducts electricity!

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Wood Gas

Ford Model A with a wood-gas generator.
"Wood-powered vehicles have been around since the auto industry’s earliest days, but they didn’t rise to prominence until the end of the First World War. Alarmed by gas shortages during the war, many countries in Europe encouraged private companies to find a new type of fuel."


Traditional Forest Management

TED talk on Forest Management


As Paul says in the video, Native Americans managed the landscape with fire for thousands of years--in fact, the forests wouldn't exist without this legacy of fire.

Native American Forest Management

In California

 

Kat Anderson's, Tending The Wild is the definitive text on Native American land management in California.
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KCET: Cultural Burning, Episode 1

 


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Menominee Forest Keepers

 

"For more than 150 years, the Menominee have pioneered forestry practices that have preserved an ecosystem with numerous species and varied habitats. The result is a forest that is not only economically profitable, but also ecologically healthy.

The Menominee practice a sustained-yield approach to forestry; that is, they manage the forest to ensure that trees are harvested in amounts that will ensure a steady supply of timber far into the future. The Menominee approach is unique, blending modern forestry science with traditional beliefs embedded deep in their culture."

More info.



   

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Forests Are Human Artifacts

 

"Like people everywhere, Indians survived by cleverly exploiting their environment. Europeans tended to manage land by breaking it into fragments for farmers and herders. Indians often worked on such a grand scale that the scope of their ambition can be hard to grasp. They created small plots, as Europeans did...but they also reshaped entire landscapes to suit their purposes. A principal tool was fire, used to keep down underbrush and create the open, grassy conditions favorable for game. Rather than domesticating animals for meat, Indians retooled whole ecosystems to grow bumper crops of elk, deer, and bison."

..."what the eco-imagery would like to picture as a pristine, untouched Urwelt [primeval world] in fact has been managed by people for millennia...[forests] are among the finest works of art on the planet."

"The Indians were the 'keystone species' of the American ecosystem...After disease killed off the Indians...buffalo vastly extended their range. Their numbers more than sextupled. The same occurred with elk and mule deer."

Monday, July 30, 2018

Black-backed woodpeckers need small fires, not large ones

Scott Crosbie bands a BBWO at Sagehen in 2004.
The Black-backed Woodpecker (BBWO) is a threatened bird that colonizes burned areas, and depends on standing dead snags for their nests. As such, they are a touchstone species in the debate about salvage logging of burned and beetle-killed forests. Some environmentalists (notably, Chad Hansen of the John Muir Institute) are advocating for allowing large wildfires to burn, assuming this creates more habitat for the BBWO.

Here's an interesting new paper on Black-backed Woodpeckers:
"Our expectation, grounded in island biogeographical theory (MacArthur & Wilson, 1967), was that larger fires should show increased colonization and persistence. To the contrary, sites in larger fires were less likely to be colonized..."
So much for the emerging "Just Let it Burn" argument--these fires are just too big and destructive. We need to thin first, then let regular, low intensity fire back in. And leave lots of standing dead for BBWOs and other wildlife, too, of course.

Here's a short video of a BBWO nesting near the Sagehen fishhouse in 2014. BBWOs are a regular resident at Sagehen, where they nest in standing beetle-killed trees, not burned ones. See observations of BBWOs at Sagehen on iNaturalist:

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Biochar

Biochar is going to form a part of the solution to western forest management.
"Biochar is charcoal used as a soil amendment. Biochar is a stable solid, rich in carbon, and can endure in soil for thousands of years. Like most charcoal, biochar is made from biomass via pyrolysis. Biochar...has the potential to help mitigate climate change via carbon sequestration. Independently, biochar can increase soil fertility of acidic soils (low pH soils), increase agricultural productivity, and provide protection against some foliar and soil-borne diseases."
Applied Power Labs in Oakland, CA builds portable pyrolysis machines that extract energy and heat from biomass waste. The end product of this process is biochar, and the artist-led company has a new strategy for disposing of, and distributing it. Based on the model of Community Supported Agriculture, you can now buy a biochar subscription, for your garden or someone else's. Do it!



More info.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

SFP Videos and 1-sheet

We've been chipping away at a series of 6 short videos explaining the Sagehen Forest Project evolution. Watch them below--just one left to finish!



We're also headed off to Washington DC next week for Congressional Visits Day, so we produced a 1-sheet (2-sides) explaining Sagehen and the Sagehen Forest Project very succinctly: