Reforesting is a good idea, but it is necessary to know where and how

Is planting trees in naturally open canopy areas such as the savanna needed to absorb mankind's "unnatural" CO2 emissions or is it mere disregard for the law of unintended consequences? Alternately, would simply letting forests do what forests do best be more sensible? If the latter is pursued and a naturally heavily forested place like northern New England alters its use of forests to heighten carbon capture, what are the local economic effects, particularly given the biggest CO2 emitter is China?

Reforesting is a good idea, but it is necessary to know where and how

An article recently published in Science, entitled “The global tree restoration potential”, presents what it calls “the most effective solution at our disposal to mitigate climate change”. The lead author is Jean-François Bastin, an ecologist affiliated with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich).

The article attracted enormous media attention. It reports the results of a study in which Bastin and collaborators used remote sensing and modeling techniques to estimate that forest restoration in areas totaling 900 million hectares worldwide could store 205 gigatonnes of carbon.

The full article can be read at the following weblink:

Study Finds the Wealthy & Celebrities Aren’t Changing Their Flying Habits to Reduce CO2 Emissions

Some are responsible for a thousand times more CO2 emissions than the average.

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Comment by Penny Gray on October 24, 2019 at 5:45pm

The fact that colleges, supposed institutions of higher learning, dismiss nuclear and condone clearcutting our forests in their passion to save the planet is quite discouraging, since right now nuclear's the only workable solution we have to an energy hungry population.  On a more positive note, the forester who just re-upped my woodlot plan suggested "logging in the winter to minimize soil disturbance, and to protect nesting songbird species" and he did so without any prompting from me.  So, there ARE thinking individuals out there.  Just not enough of them.

Comment by Willem Post on October 24, 2019 at 9:29am


Clearcutting in New England: Google Maps shows clearcutting in New England, including on “protected” public recreational and watershed lands in MA, NH and MA, is revealed to be more prevalent than implied by various pro-logging publications. See an abundance of photos in this URL.

Comment by Frank J. Heller, MPA on October 23, 2019 at 3:10pm

Just personal observations but mixed, mature hardwood forests are disappearing from Maine. I'd rather not replace them with evergreens but the same and  re-introducing new species or those which are rare, i..e ash. the other replacement are urban foraging forests with fruit and nut groves. The slightly warmer climate may also enable replacement with southern N.Eng. species. Grasslands are nice but not entirely natural, since most are abandoned hay-fields or pasture. Land trusts are acquiring them and building out the adjoining forest from the edges inward. 

Clearcutting is really that almost like strip mining, since everything is chipped, leaving a desert. wouldn't mind some guidance on reclamation and reforestation efforts.

Comment by Willem Post on October 23, 2019 at 10:09am


Pro loggers claim clearcutting in Maine is only 1% of all logging, which likely is not true, based on my own observations near my house during the past 30 years.

Google maps shows two adjacent clearcut areas near my house that are carefully hidden by leaving about 50 ft of trees standing between the road and the clearcut.

From the road you cannot tell, but if you take a walk through the 50-ft barrier, you can see about 30 acres of clearcuts. In Vermont up to 45 acres can be clearcut without a permit.

You should take photos of clearcuts and keep an album and correlate clearcuts with dates and


Comment by Penny Gray on October 23, 2019 at 10:06am

For 28 years I lived in western Maine in a small rural town populated by old timers who still remembered how "proper logging" was done.  Proper logging was done only in winter, and the trees were limbed out in the forest and trunks hauled to the logging yards.  Now, nothing is left behind.  Branches are chipped, trees that could be baled for hay are harvested and chipped.  A forestry studen from UMaine approached me about cutting my land here in northern Maine.  She said, "We take everything, so you don't have to worry about the mess."  Is this what they're teaching???

Comment by Penny Gray on October 23, 2019 at 8:50am

Willem, I living in Irving Land.  Irving owns the top half of the state of Maine.  The harvesting is continual and they spray herbicides that target hardwood species to favor softwood.  Their helicopters with the spray arms sometimes go right over my farm.  Looking at google earth gives a good picture of the network of main roads and skidder roads.  Much of the timber goes right across the border into Canada.

Comment by Willem Post on October 22, 2019 at 9:33pm


we need to stop harvesting for burning trees

we should only be harvesting for other purposes.

how much do you estimate is clear cutting in your neighborhood?

Comment by Penny Gray on October 22, 2019 at 6:39pm

I'll stand with the forest, any day.  Personally I couldn't live without it, and up here in northern Maine they are waging industrial scale war against it.  Dear Audubon, take into account the fact that every spring and summer entire populations of young songbirds in large areas of forest up here in the northeast are being systematically wiped out when hundreds, thousands of acres of trees are felled during nesting season.  Habitat is lost.  Territories are lost.  Songbird populations plummet.  Habitat loss is the biggest threat to your birds, not two degrees of climate warming.  Protect the forests.  Protect habitat.  Sorry, I'm venting now.

Comment by Willem Post on October 22, 2019 at 6:13pm

Forest CO2 Sequestration and The Meaning of Sustainability

Whole-Tree Harvesting:

Whole-tree harvesting removes trunks, branches and foliage. However, the nutrient content of branches and foliage, gram of nutrient/100 gram of dry wood, is significantly greater than of the stems.

It would be better practice to harvest only the trunks, which have about 65% of the biomass, and leave the remainder (branches and foliage) on the forest floor to provide nutrients to regrow the forest, and to promote flora and fauna quantity and diversity.

About 50% of Vermont harvests is used for heating and electricity, the other 50% is used for all other purposes. To increase the stored carbon in forests, we must minimize using forest biomass for heating and electricity, plus we must greatly increase forest protection from human intrusions, such as energy-intensive, environmentally destructive ski resorts, roads and power lines.

If we would take ambitious steps to protect our forests from logging for heating and electricity, we would avoid CO2 emissions while also absorbing large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in forests.


The word “sustainable” is bandied about by lay people who likely do not understand the implications. For decades various government and private entities have claimed, without proof, harvests about equal to gross annual growth of aboveground live biomass is “sustainable”. Pro-logging government forest departments and the logging industry are quite comfortable with that statement and repeat it as a standard mantra to inform the lay public.

Research of the past 15 – 20 years has proven this “sustainable” definition is inadequate, because repeated harvests causes damage to belowground biomass and soils (leaching of nutrients, due to logging on slopes, and removing of nutrients, due to harvests, and emitting CO2, due to belowground biomass decay). The main nutrients are Nitrogen, Phosphor, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium.

This ultimately leads to depleted forest soils, i.e., less robust growth, and weak/sickly/misshapen trees, and increased tree mortality. Taking from the forest year after year and not adequately restoring nutrients is not sustainable, ever. No farmer would treat cropland that way, if robust harvests were desired year after year.

Overharvesting at Present and in the Future:

In Vermont, VT-FPR estimates gross annual growth of aboveground live biomass at about 5 million ton for all forestland, about 4.5 million acres; this is a high estimate. Other estimates, based on historic annual biomass growth rates and annual CO2 absorption rates, are less. Vermont annual harvests are about 2.5 million ton. See URL.

VT-FPR and the logging industry would be claiming harvesting is “sustainable” because gross annual growth is 5/2.5 = 2 times annual harvests. However, in reality, the ratio is about 2.78/2.5 = 1.11, because gross annual growth on the about 2.5 million acres harvested on a 30 to 40-year rotation basis is about 2.78 million ton, i.e., barely sustainable at present levels of harvesting. See note.

NOTE: It is common practice to use net growth of aboveground live biomass = gross growth – mortality, as the basis for sustainability. The above ratios of 2 times and 1.11 times would be significantly less, if mortality had been subtracted. Not subtracting mortality is either ignorance or just another way to mislead the lay public.

NOTE: The goals of the VT-Comprehensive Energy Plan are to increase heat from biomass to buildings, i.e., after combustion, by about 35% by 2050, which would mean a major increase of harvesting on about 2.5 million acres by 2050, and/or a major increase of imports from NY, NH and Quebec, and/or a major increase in combustion efficiency.

Logging Damage and Harvest Depletion:

The logging industry claims removals obtained from 1) light clearcutting, up to about 50%, 2) selective thinning, and 3) weak/sickly/misshapen/dead trees are required to ensure adequate profits from harvesting the forestland of an owner. They claim removals will promote new biomass growth, because more sunlight reaches forest floors. However, that growth would be less robust, as it would take place on depleted soils due to repeated harvesting. See Note.

Offsetting logging damage and nutrient depletion since about 1800, and ongoing logging damage and nutrient depletion would require:

1) Spreading various fertilizers on forest floors, especially on areas subjected to clearcutting.
2) Chipping low value live and dead trees and spreading the chips on forest floors, especially on areas subjected to clearcutting.
3) Planting a variety of 10-y old saplings on areas subjected to clearcutting.

Loggers would be compensated for performing these extra services.

This would increase the cost of woodchips for burning. However, that cost had been kept artificially low due to the unsustainable practice of removing and not replenishing.

NOTE: Those forest soils were already damaged/depleted due to the clearcutting holocaust of the 1800s and early 1900s, and due to acid rain and air pollution starting about the 1950s. NE forests are still recovering from the clearcutting holocaust, plus dealing with acid rain and air pollution effects, plus dealing with repeated harvesting and not replacing, i.e., NE forests are overstressed.

Comment by Long Islander on October 22, 2019 at 1:28pm


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."

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