It’s normal to tune out all the Chicken Littles (such as yours truly) who run around squawking about this or that invasive forest pest or disease that pose a threat to trees. I mean, how many times can the sky fall, anyway? But the real danger is when we feel so overwhelmed that we throw up our hands. Thinking we can’t make a difference could result in more harm to forests than the pests themselves. [Read more…] about Preventing Oak Wilt: Painting Our Way Out of a Corner
Decayed wood crumbled underfoot as I stepped on a mossy log. The ground was almost hidden by a lush, diverse growth of wildflowers and ferns. Brown scapes of wild leeks poked up above mottled leaflets of Virginia waterleaf and heart-shaped leaves of wild ginger. A green canopy of mostly sugar maple and yellow birch towered overhead. As we climbed higher on the mountainside, the trees increased in height and girth. We were in an old-growth forest, a remnant of the forest that blanketed the Northeast before European settlement. The extremely steep slope had likely allowed it to escape the axe and saw before it was protected. [Read more…] about Understanding Our Old Forests
When I’m asked to diagnose tree problems, folks naturally want the remedy. Sometimes the only solution is tree removal; other times it’s a cable brace, pest management, corrective pruning or fertilizing. But increasingly, the diagnosis is climate change. If anyone knows how to solve that through an arboricultural practice, please let me know. [Read more…] about Spruce Blues and Wet-Weather Woes
This spring, there has been larger-than-usual gypsy moth populations and leaf damage in several parts of New York State. Gypsy moths are non-native but are naturalized, meaning they will always be around in our forests.
Their populations spike in numbers roughly every 10 to 15 years, but these outbreaks are usually ended by natural causes such as disease and predators. Because of this, the State typically does not manage them and does not provide funding for treating gypsy moths on private property. [Read more…] about Science Behind Our Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Outbreak
One summer, I took a nature drawing class, and we hiked up Vermont’s Stowe Pinnacle to sketch in the cool, mountain forest. I chose to draw a big yellow birch that had established itself on the steep slope. For a couple of hours, I stared at the base of the tree, trying to capture its intricate detail: the way the trunk leaned to the right and its large, supporting roots spread over the ground; the variable colors, patterns, and textures of its bark; a hole at the base that might be home to a mouse or chipmunk. I wondered how old the tree was and what it had witnessed in its lifetime from its perch on the mountainside. [Read more…] about Lifeways of the Yellow Birch
The regeneration of New York’s forests is dependent on the successful establishment and survival of tree seedlings. Over the past several decades, the ability of New York’s forests to regenerate has been diminished due to widespread damage caused by white-tailed deer, excessive competition from native and non-native vegetation, and the impacts of climate change. [Read more…] about State Offering ‘Regenerate NY’ Forestry Grants To Landowners
Increasingly, urban and community forests are facing threats such as insects, diseases, extreme weather events and other hazards. Additionally, the lack of investment in urban forest disaster mitigation is contributing to community disasters such as urban flooding and human heat deaths in our cities – disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations. [Read more…] about Funding Available for Urban Forestry
The bare branches of the trees outside my window seem lifeless in late winter. However, each twig holds many buds – small, wrapped packages of potential awaiting the spring. These buds formed last summer and are designed to withstand snow, ice, and subzero temperatures. By withdrawing water from them before winter, deciduous trees protect their buds from frost damage. [Read more…] about Tree Buds In Winter
As a card-carrying, registered tree hugger, I have long touted the benefits of trees such as carbon storage, energy savings and improved mental health. And beyond the familiar tree-related blessings such as maple syrup, lumber and firewood, I’ve written about some obscure things like birch-based candy that fights tooth decay, and health-promoting chaga tea derived from a birch fungus. Then there’s basswood bark for fiber, elm bark for baskets, and pine bark for lunch.
That stuff is all pretty straightforward. More highly processed wood products, though, are a mystery to me. [Read more…] about Super Wood: Coming To Space Near You