Invited talk – “Indigenous-based forest management: Looking to the past for a way forward”

23 07 2019

I am heading to England soon to attend and speak at the Lovelock Centenary (July 29-31), a meeting of Gaian scientists sponsored by the Geological Society of London and the University of Exeter, and inspired by the 100th birthday of James Lovelock, who developed the theory that the earth is a living system (Gaia). James Lovelock will happily be attending and speaking at the conference.

I first met James Lovelock in 1988 at an American Geophysical Union meeting in San Diego, CA hosted by my postdoctoral advisor Stephen Schneider. I presented results that supported Lovelock’s contention that “Gaia likes it cold”, as discussed in Lovelock’s book The Ages of Gaia.

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James Lovelock

After attending the “Gaia in Oxford” meetings in the 1990s I worked with James Lovelock and Susan Canney (University of Oxford) to help found the Gaia Society, which later became the Gaia: Earth System Science specialty group of the Geological Society of London.

My talk at the upcoming meeting will focus on the topic of Applied Gaia, which, as the name implies, is the application of Gaia theory to solving real world problems. I will be speaking on the ways in which indigenous cultures can inform us on how to improve our forest management in California. Dr Susan Canney will follow up with a talk on her successful work applying Gaia theory to elephant conservation in western Africa. The conference program is listed here.

The entire conference will be lived streamed and I encourage you to watch, as there are few chances to see this many Gaian scientists speaking in one setting.

Lovelock Centenary talk final

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Fire mimicry effects on oaks in Fairfax, CA

22 07 2019

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Last week I inspected several coast live oaks in Fairfax, CA that have been treated for the past three years with fire mimicry. The photos above and below show the results. The foliage of the oaks appears denser and greener following the treatments. Enjoy!

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Oaks and other trees in Atherton, CA respond to fire mimicry

7 06 2019

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Last year I (and my dedicated crew) treated several coast live oaks along with a valley oak, a California buckeye, a jacaranda, and an ornamental pear with fire mimicry. Yesterday I inspected and re-photographed these trees. Here are the photos showing the results after just one year. I’m happy to report that most of the trees are showing a noticeable increase in canopy density and greenness. BTW, four of the coast live oaks are infected with a stem canker disease, probably Sudden Oak Death. Bet you can’t tell which oaks are infected!

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Valley oaks in Walnut Creek, CA respond to fire mimicry

27 05 2019

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I recently inspected a grove of sick valley oaks that have been treated with fire mimicry for the past two years. The results are very encouraging. Most of the oaks have responded with a noticeable increase in canopy greenness and density. Note that valley oaks do not contract sudden oak death disease, but are still declining in many places. They, too, are generally suffering from a lack of ground fires. Fortunately, these results point to a way forward for improving the health of our great valley oaks using fire mimicry practices.

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Recovery of oaks following the 2017 Sonoma fires

2 05 2019

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Yesterday I inspected a grove of oaks that had burned during the 2017 Sonoma fires.  Previous to the fire these oaks had been treated with fire mimicry, which included pruning the lower branches (ladder fuel), clearing away underbrush, removing mosses and lichens from the trunks, fertilizing the soils with compost tea and soil minerals, and applying a limewash to the trunks. During the fires all of the ground vegetation burned, but none of the flames spread into the upper canopies. Thus, all of the oaks survived (as did several nearby homes), and, as the photos show, are doing well after 1.5 years. A caveat – these results are influenced by the spring flush of new leaves, and a better comparison can be made when I visit the site again this October.

These findings represent the combined effects of a ground fire AND fire mimicry treatments on improving the health of California oaks.

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Esalen oaks respond to fire mimicry

26 04 2019

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On April 20, 2012 I gave an Earth Day workshop on at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA, where I initiated fire mimicry treatments on several coast live oaks. Since then I have been tending these oaks on a regular basis. Today I inspected the oaks and treated them again. The photos (above and below) show the response after 7 years . . .

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Oaks in Burlingame, CA respond to fire mimicry

22 04 2019

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Last week I inspected a grove of oaks in Burlingame, CA that I’ve been tending with fire mimicry for five years. Here are recent photos showing their progress . . .

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