Monday, April 30, 2012

The Future of People

 David Wear, USFS, predicts large declines in forest area in the US as more and more land is developed for housing.  Over the next 50 years the US population is forecast to double again to 500 million, mostly along the coasts. 

Most of the RPA interval projections by the USFS are driven by economic analyses.  Increased wealth greatly increases the impact of any increase in human population, because wealthier people build bigger houses, shop more, and need more roads.  More people will need more food, leading to higher food prices that threaten to undo the conservation reserve program, putting reforested land back into food production.  But higher prices for timber or biomass would actually increase forested area!  With a higher value on trees, timbered lands might be worth too much to develop....

I conclude that the US needs a healthy forest products (including, somehow, forest biomass) industry to push back against the teeming urban hordes.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Finally, after months of waiting, Thursday, April 12 was burn day at Mason Farm Biological Reserve.
It has been very dry here and Tuesday was a Red Flag day, but Thursday dawned cool and not-too-windy.
A little bit more wind would have been helpful to oxygenate the burn more.  Trees have already leafed out, decreasing below-canopy advective and convective air movement.
There were no problems with the fire lines, and the burn was finished by 5 PM.

For more information about natural fire regime in Southeastern Piedmont forests:
Frost CC, Walker J, Peet RK. Fire-dependent savannas and prairies of the Southeast: original extent, preservation status, and management problems. Wilderness and natural areas in the eastern United States: a management challenge. Nacogdoches, TX: Stephen F. Austin State University, School of Forestry, Center for Applied Studies. 1986:348–357.