Tongass Forest protected again?

The Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska, an ara of 68,000 km2 (1.5 the size of The Netherlands) is in the news. The Biden administration has restored protections for this largest intact temperate rainforest, sometimes called America’s Amazon. It is remote enough to be home to many species of endangered and rare flora and fauna.

Biden restored in line with the views of Alaska’s tribal nations the original roadless rule, in 2020 been undone by President Donald Trump, this for logging and oil drilling purposes. Roadless area conservation is a conservation policy limiting road construction and the resulting environmental impact on designated areas of public land.

It is in fact strange that one person ( a president in this case) can undo or restore formal legislation for protection. I know democracy has its value, but this factor is from the perspective of the forest itself and all species living in it, not quite establishing a feeling of comfort, security and safety. Sometimes humans must not be granted any access to nature. Never. Hands off. Eternal protection from human greed.

Picture: Tongass National Forest near Ketchikan, Alaska. Source: Wikipedia.

Fragmented Forest

© Jack Kruf (2023) Fragmented Forest [fine art print]. Breda: Private collection.

Fragmentation of the forest reduces the quality and diversity of the ecosystem. Roads (white) and system borders (black) are really the main causes of the decline. Roads are for humans not for forests. They serve as carriers for leisure in, exploitation and destruction (red) of the natural habitats. Forest simply can not handle human dynamics.

Frosty Fern

© Jack Kruf (2020) Frosty Fern [fine art print]. Breda: Private collection.

In winter the forest comes to a standstill and prepares for the year to come. This frosty fern is a witness of the quietness of ecosystem.

Forest road

© Jack Kruf (2019) Forest Road [fine art print]. Breda: Private collection.

This forest road in winter creates the perspective of infinity. Beams of sunlight, shades and shadows merge into one. Is this the road to eternity?

Forest floor palette

In early December, this is what this palette of the frosty forest floor is telling us. Quite a set of late autumn colours of lost leafs. They look up to where to came from, the high canopies.

We should be very thankful to them for their incredible service this season, this for their production of O2 (oxygen) and binding CO2 (carbondioxide), for their delivery of sugars for trees, fungi and animals, for filtering the dusty air.

Leafs are key for life. They actually are the master servants in the Empire of the Sun. Now they rest in peace on the forest floor, waiting to find their way in the circle of life. Winter is coming.

Picture: © Jack Kruf

December Forest

Jack Kruf © (2022) December Forest [digital caption]. Breda: private collection.

The forest at this time of the year seems to come to a standstill, leading to fascinating colour palettes. The whole forest ecosystem is in fact in full preparation for the year to come. Here the beautiful browns and yellows of the eagle fern (Pteridium aquilinum L.) at an open place in the forest.

The Forest and Sustainability

The European Commission.

The Commission welcomes the provisional political agreement just reached between the European Parliament and the Council on an EU Regulation on deforestation-free supply chains.

Once adopted and applied, the new law will ensure that a set of key goods placed on the EU market will no longer contribute to deforestation and forest degradation in the EU and elsewhere in the world.

Since the EU is a major economy and consumer of these commodities, this step will help stop a significant share of global deforestation and forest degradation, in turn reducing greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss.

This major agreement comes just before the start of the milestone Conference on Biodiversity (COP15) which is set to define protection goals for nature for decades to come.

Explanation

Apart from timber, the products concerned are cocoa, coffee, soy, palm oil, beef and rubber. Derived products such as leather, chocolate, furniture, paper and charcoal will also be banned if they contribute to deforestation, the European Commission said in a statement.

Products will be classified as banned if they come from land deforested after December 2020. Traders will have to start proving that the products are deforestation-free and legal. Importers must be able to provide “precise geographical information on agricultural land” to show where raw materials come from.

If the rules are not followed, member states must impose sanctions. The commission says the list of goods covered by the directive is regularly reviewed and updated. This takes into account new data, such as changing deforestation patterns.

Bosbeheer in beeld

Algemene Rekenkamer.

Ongewis of bosbeheer beoogde resultaten op termijn levert. Het beeld dat de laatste jaren is ontstaan dat Staatsbosbeheer overal in het land grootschalig bossen kapt, is onjuist. Onderzoek van de Algemene Rekenkamer wijst uit dat Staatsbosbeheer niet meer oogst dan er bijgroeit. Maar of de werkwijze van de grootste bosbeheerder van Nederland en andere boseigenaren op lange termijn de beoogde resultaten geeft, is echter op landelijk niveau onbekend.

Het rapport Bosbeheer in Beeld gaat over (Staats)bosbeheer en bossenstrategie. Het beeld dat de laatste jaren is ontstaan dat Staatsbosbeheer overal in het land grootschalig bossen kapt, is onjuist.

Onderzoek van de Algemene Rekenkamer wijst uit dat Staatsbosbeheer niet meer oogst dan er bijgroeit. Maar of de werkwijze van de grootste bosbeheerder van Nederland en andere boseigenaren op lange termijn de beoogde resultaten geeft, is echter op landelijk niveau onbekend.

“De landelijke bossenstrategie, door de rijksoverheid en provincies gezamenlijk in 2020 ondertekend, vereist landelijk 10 % meer bos op termijn. Die doelstelling wordt waarschijnlijk niet gehaald. Sinds 2013 verdwijnt er namelijk bij alle natuurbeheerders opgeteld meer bos in Nederland dan dat er aangeplant wordt. Er is ruim 6.000 hectare bos minder dan bij de start van de bossenstrategie.”

De conclusies laten zich samenvatten in de volgende punten:

    • Aantal gestelde doelen van de strategie worden niet gehaald.
    • Er is geen centraal inzicht in de resultaten van het bosbeheer.
    • Er is geen transparante afweging.
    • Er zijn geen financiële prikkels die aanzetten tot meer houtkap.
    • Art is geen garantie voor duurzaam bosbeheer.

De conclusies liegen er niet om. De gedane aanbevelingen zijn boterzacht en vooruitschuivend. Nadere informatie en afspraken moet gemaakt worden. Inderdaad. Had dat niet al gemoeten dan?

De bossenstrategie faalt. En dat is niet goed. Helemaal niet.

A survivor of vast forgotten woods

Margaret Wise Brown (author), Leonard Weisgard (illustrator) (1950) The Dark Wood of the Golden Birds. New York City: Harper & Brothers.

“As they listened, they began to understand the lives of the Forest, apart from themselves, indeed to feel themselves as the strangers where all other things were at home. […] Tom’s words laid bare the hearts of trees and their thoughts, which were dark and strange, and filled with a hatred of things that go free upon the earth, gnawing, biting, breaking, hacking, burning: destroyers and usurpers.

It was not called the Old Forest without reason, for it was indeed ancient, a survivor of vast forgotten woods; and in there lived yet, ageing no quicker than the hills, the fathers of the fathers of trees, remembering times when they were lords. The countless years had filled them with pride and rooted wisdom, and with malice.”


Bibliography

Tolkien, J. (2014) The Fellowship of the Ring [The Lord of the Rings, part 1, ed. 60]. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Forest Biometrics

I designed an intelligent pawn, called Equoi. It is in essence a simple concept, like that of the barometer or thermometer. It measures the mood of an object, place or process. The pawn is virtually full of sensors. Its application is easy: just put it on the table, ask your question, wait a moment and Equoi tells you the how and the what.

© Jack Kruf (2019) Forest Biometrics [3d-print]. Breda: Private collection
Here the global state of the forests is measured. What emerges is a result with a highly fragmented pattern. Indeed most of the forests are reduced, exploited, intersected. Deforestation has done its work and continues to do so. The left islands of forest, sometimes no more than ‘a group of trees’, are almost too small to survive as an ecosystem.

Design for ecological harmony

Dror is a New York-based design firm, creating the future of cities. Building comprehensive visions & systems at every scale. Connecting people with nature through the built environment. (picture © Dror for Parkorman Istanbul: designing a love story between people and nature in a city with no central park.

The well-being of humans and the planet are interconnected, and Dror’s Supernature Labs focus on the research, development and invention of new ways to build better with nature and like nature. A global initiative, the labs are rolling out to locations around the world and empowering the local community to innovate and build a better future.

Established by Dror, SuperNature Labs is a holistic, practical framework to design with nature, like nature, to measurably improve the wellbeing of all life. From the scale of products to new cities, SuperNature takes us from Sustainability to Ecological Harmony: a shift in the way we design environments that enables communities, economies, and ecologies to grow in support of each other.

SuperNature Labs is a design company that pioneers innovative architecture, planning, and media products to offer a multi-scale development platform based on a new integration of nature and the built environment.