Friday, January 26, 2007

Forest Damage in Europe

As we were discussing in forest management this week, forests, both natural and plantations, are very stable, safe investments. The probability of damage from fire, insects, or weather is actually quite low when you consider forests as a whole.

But when damage occurs it can be catastrophic. Here is a quote on the recent storm damage in Sweden:

"About 12 million cubic metres have been estimated to be damaged in the recent storm that swept southern Sweden 14 January. Next to the storm “Gudrun” two years ago this is the most severe storm since 1969. Much of the storm-felled trees are within areas that already have a high risk of large-scale outbreak of the European Spruce bark beetle."
Here is the link to the article:

The damage in Germany is equally serious: "

Forestry officials said the hurricane that tore through Germany killing 11 people last week also knocked down 40 million trees. The damage was expected to cost the industry dearly.",2144,2323760,00.html

So, forests are usually safe, but when something bad happens it can be very bad.
Thanks to Eggers Thies (Sweden information) and David South (Germany information) for these leads

Monday, January 22, 2007

Queen of Trees

Tonight (1/21) the PBS Nature series broadcast a documentary on the life cycle of the African fig tree (

The film was made highlighting a tree in Kenya. Here are some pictures I took recently of a fig tree in Guinea, across the continent, at the C.E.E.D. in Kinkan. These pictures seem to be of a very similar, if not exactly the same, species as the one on the show. It's an amazingly complicated life-cycle, with a very precise relationship between the fig tree and the wasp. The fruit here are immature. I noticed ants on them, but didn't see any wasps.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Forest Contrasts

These are pictures of forests from opposite sides of the world. The single tree is a nere tree (Parkia biglobosa) in the Fouta Djalon highlands of Guinea (near the Kinkan Waterfalls). The forest is a white pine plantation (Pinus strobus) on the Waynesboro Watershed in Hamiltonban Township in Pennsylvania USA. I visited these two landscapes withing ten days of each other in January 07. Jet travel is great!

In spite of the obvious contrasts in continent and climate these two scenes have similarities. Both have trees and both are heavily influenced by human use. The same principles of forest management and soil conservation can be used to manage both landscapes for the benefit of people and the environment.