Aboriginal Firekeeping, Australia, Bureau of Indian Affairs, California, Environment, global warming, Karuk tribe, National Forest Service, Nature Conservancy, Uncategorized, Yurok tribe

Let’s Talk About Fire…

matthew abbottNYT

Reducing Fire, and Cutting Carbon Emissions, the Aboriginal Way 
As blazes rage in southern Australia, Indigenous fire-prevention techniques that have sharply cut destructive bushfires in the north are drawing new attention.

Thomas Fuller, NYT, Jan. 16, 2020
Photo by Matthew Abbott

Traditional Aboriginal practices of burning, which reduce the undergrowth that can fuel bigger blazes, are attracting new attention as Australia endures disaster and confronts a fiery future.

Over the past decade, fire-prevention programs, mainly on Aboriginal lands in northern Australia, have cut destructive wildfires in half. These programs, first given government licenses in 2013, now cover an area three times the size of Portugal. Even as towns in the south burned in recent months and smoke haze blanketed Sydney and Melbourne, wildfires in northern Australia were much less severe.

These efforts draw on ancient ways, but have a thoroughly modern benefit: Organizations that practice defensive burning have earned $80 million under the country’s cap-and-trade system as they have reduced greenhouse-gas emissions from wildfires in the north by 40 percent.

They are also generating important scientific data, and are held up as a model that could be adapted to save lives and homes in other regions of Australia, as well as fire-prone parts of the world as different as California and Botswana.

“The Australian government is now starting to see the benefits of having Indigenous people look after their lands,” said Joe Morrison, one of the pioneers of the project. “Aboriginal people who have been through very difficult times are seeing their language, customs and traditional knowledge being reinvigorated and celebrated using Western science.”

In some ways, the Aboriginal methods resemble Western ones practiced around the world: One of the main goals is to reduce underbrush and other fuel that accelerates hot, damaging fires.

But the ancient approach tends to be more comprehensive. Indigenous people, using precisely timed, low-intensity fires, burn their properties the way a suburban homeowner might use a lawn mower.

The preventive fires must be timed according to air temperature, wind conditions and humidity, as well as the life cycles of plants. Northern Aboriginal traditions revolve around the monsoon, with land burned patch by patch as the wet season gives way to the dry.

The pioneering defensive burning programs in northern Australia came together in the 1980s and ’90s when Aboriginal groups moved back onto their native lands after having lived in settlements under the encouragement, or in some cases the order, of the government.

Depopulated for decades, the land had suffered. Huge fires were decimating species and damaging rock paintings.

The Aboriginal groups ultimately teamed up with scientists, the government of the Northern Territory and the Houston-based oil company ConocoPhillips, which was building a natural gas facility and was required to find a project that would offset its carbon emissions.

According to calculations by Mr. Edwards, wildfires in northern Australia burned 57 percent fewer acres last year than they did on average in the years from 2000 to 2010, the decade before the program started.

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alexandra hootnickNYT

California Today: Native Solutions to Big Fire
Thomas Fuller, NYT, January 24, 2020

Photo by Alexandra Hootnick

As many parts of the world grapple with how to reduce destructive, out-of-control wildfires, Native North American burning techniques have come into the spotlight, as well.

The experience in northern Australia has been critical. Researchers have used satellite data to calculate that an Aboriginal burning program started seven years ago has cut hot and destructive wildfires in half and reduced carbon emissions by more than 40 percent.

With California’s Could something similar be done in California?

Margo Robbins, a member of the Yurok, California’s largest Indian tribe, traveled to Australia two years ago and saw many similarities with her own cultural burning practices.

In 2014, Ms. Robbins helped organize a burn of seven acres on the Yurok reservation. A crew of 20 prison inmates brought by Cal Fire worked with the tribe to conduct the burn.

“The No. 1 priority for our community was to bring fire back to the land. The land needs fire in order to be healthy,” said Ms. Robbins, a basket weaver who relies on the long and pliable shoots that emerge from burned hazelnut bushes.

The Nature Conservancy assists with a yearly controlled burn on the Yurok reservation in Northern California. The 2014 burn rekindled the tradition and now happens every year.

Don Hankins, a fire expert at Cal State, Chico, estimates that, at most, a few thousand acres are burned in California every year using traditional cultural burning techniques. This is tiny compared with the Australian program, which covers close to 90 million acres, around the size of Montana.

But Mr. Hankins and tribal fire experts say there seems to be an appetite in California to better understand and expand tribal burning practices. Native American burning traditions are similar to Aboriginal ones in the way that they look to nature for signals on when to burn.

Mr. Tripp says it is crucial not to interrupt natural reproductive cycles with fire — nesting birds, flowering plants — but to burn in ways that encourage growth of critical plants like hazelnut bushes and acorn-bearing oaks.

As with other Native fire experts, Mr. Tripp, who is deputy director of the Karuk tribe’s Natural Resources Department, says he is working with the National Forest Service, Cal Fire and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to obtain more sovereignty over fire.

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Also, “Spotlight On” the Walking Stick Insect

Stick_insect_(5012291723)

Walking stick

From the Ancient Greek phasma, meaning “a phantom,” the Walking stick, or Stick insect, is a master at disappearing into its surroundings. This insect and its cousin, the Leaf insect, are normally green or brown. Also useful in self-protection is its ability to enter into a motionless state that can be maintained for a long period. The only predator from which the Walking stick has no defense is the bat, which hunts by echolocation.
Only certain species of animals can reproduce by parthenogenesis, most notably insects, but also reptiles, and it was recently discovered, sharks. This is the process by which an unfertilized egg produces an offspring. (From Volume 2, Staghorn Sumac)

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And finally, another plug for my self-published books about North American trees,

Secret Voices from the Forest, Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees

Available at Amazon.com

cover    cover-SV2    Vol. 3 - The East copy

See ya tomorrow.

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alice springs, Australia, christmas tree recycling, fairhope alabama, global warming, gulf coast, milkweed, monarch butterfly, sacred gum tree, smithsonian national museum of natural history, solar radiation, swainson's warbler, volcanic eruptions

New stories this week

Small volcanic eruptions could be slowing global warming—new ground-, air- and satellite measurements show that small volcanic eruptions that occurred between 2000 and 2013 have deflected almost double the amount of solar radiation previously estimated. By knocking incoming solar energy back out into space, sulfuric acid particles from these recent eruptions could be responsible for decreasing global temperatures.

http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com

Sarychev_Peak_Volcano_erupts_on_Matua_Island

Sacred Gum Tree Leaves Threaten Future of Australian Pro Tour Tennis in Alice Springs—A 2014 Tennis Australia report expressed concern about the number of leaves that fell on the court during the 2014 event, but organizers cannot trim or cut down the trees without approval from native title holders and the council, according to the tennis club’s tournament director Matt Roberts.

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Parks Canada Using Old Christmas Trees to Protect Sand Dunes—piles of old Christmas trees are stacked up along Brackley Beach of Prince Edward Island to fill in what are known as blow out areas where sand has drifted away.

How the Gulf Coast Can Save the Monarchs—a dramatic decline in monarchs has been linked to the loss of milkweeds, one of the most important monarch food sources in Eastern North America.
Longleaf pines of Gulf Coast may well determine whether the monarch and its great annual migration survives. More than 90 percent of all milkweed and climbing milkweed species found in eastern North America occur within the larger longleaf pine ecosystem and 15 or so of those species are found nowhere else but in longleaf forests.

monarch-on-tuberosa-70e78a248444f7e9

A New Home for a Secretive Songbird—researchers from Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History report that Swainson’s warbler has found a new safe haven: private pine plantations.

Swainson's_Warbler_s52-11-424_l_1

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Ann Arbor, antibiotic-producing soil microbes, Australia, Biotropica, Bristlecone pine, bur oak, campus orchard, community orchard, CSIRO, Environment, fruit trees, Linda & Dick Busher, Nature, NPR, photography, Ross Business School, solar power, trees, trees in the cities, Trees in the News, U of Mich, U of Philadelphia, Uncategorized

New stories from The Treetalker

First, a 250 year old Bur oak gets moved at the Ann Arbor campus of the U of Michigan to make way for the expansion of the Ross Business School – controversial, because it was pricey to do, but in the immortal words of George Pope Morris, “Woodman, spare that tree!”

aa1_9331-b96b6e12867a29dc863f33013726eaff01d3ba3e-s4-c85

Also, a lovely slide show of the Bristlecone pine, photos courtesy of Linda and Dr. Dick Busher. Check out my website for that:

http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com

Also some additional stories you may find of interest:

A CSIRO test plant in Australia has broken a world record and proved solar power could efficiently replace fossil fuels. “… this step proves solar has the potential to compete with the peak performance capabilities of fossil fuel sources,” says Dr. Alex Wonhas, CSIRO’s Energy Director.

orchard2Research is being done to ascertain the role of various antibiotic-producing soil microbes in the composition and variety of tree species in tropical rainforests.

And—seems to be catching on, this— The U of Pennsylvania community is coming together to plant a campus orchard. These guys aren’t the first, and hopefully won’t be the last.

 

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Ann Arbor, antibiotic-producing soil microbes, Australia, Bristlecone pine, bur oak, campus orchard, community orchard, CSIRO, Environment, fruit trees, Linda & Dick Busher, NPR, photography, Ross Business School, solar power, trees, trees in the cities, Trees in the News, U of Mich, U of Philadelphia, Uncategorized

New stories from The Treetalker

First, a 250 year old Bur oak gets moved at the Ann Arbor campus of the U of Michigan to make way for the expansion of the Ross Business School – controversial, because it was pricey to do, but in the immortal words of George Pope Morris, “Woodman, spare that tree!”

aa1_9331-b96b6e12867a29dc863f33013726eaff01d3ba3e-s4-c85

Also, a lovely slide show of the Bristlecone pine, photos courtesy of Linda and Dr. Dick Busher. Check out my website for that:

http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com

Also some additional stories you may find of interest:

A CSIRO test plant in Australia has broken a world record and proved solar power could efficiently replace fossil fuels. “… this step proves solar has the potential to compete with the peak performance capabilities of fossil fuel sources,” says Dr. Alex Wonhas, CSIRO’s Energy Director.

orchard2Research is being done to ascertain the role of various antibiotic-producing soil microbes in the composition and variety of tree species in tropical rainforests.

And—seems to be catching on, this— The U of Pennsylvania community is coming together to plant a campus orchard. These guys aren’t the first, and hopefully won’t be the last.

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