Saturday, December 15, 2012

Restoring Three Forests

I follow with interest the growth of replacement forests in three areas, the mountains of Appalachia, the highlands of Ethiopia, and the flat bottomland of the Arkansas Delta. Efforts are being made to correct man-made removal of natural forests from each of these areas. The work in the mountains of Appalachia is centered on areas exploited for a surface coal mining technique known as “mountain-top removal.” Our friend, beekeeper and author Tammy Horn, is instrumental in bringing people and resources together to change coal mining reclamation sites from hard packed gravel beds into forests designed to increase forage for honey bees and native pollinators. Writing in the newsletter of The American Chestnut Foundation,, Tammy describes the work of her Coal Country Beeworks. While establishing a beekeeping cottage industry, the group is planting the mountains of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia in native trees including sourwood, a famous source for premium honey. The mountain-top restoration efforts also include the planting of American chestnut trees from blight-resistant seedlings. The American Chestnut Foundation and the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative are working to replace the native chestnut, which once accounted for one third of the trees in the southeastern forests. The tree was valuable for its lumber and important as a food source of wildlife.

Beekeepers of Ethiopia rely upon forest nectar sources to produce honey as a staple of their agriculture. They are planting highly erodible volcanic slopes of the Bonebunga Area of western Ethiopia in trees to restore land previously cleared for planting crops. They protect the forests from poaching for firewood and building materials by “social fences,” imaginary protective fences built in the minds of those served by the forest. The third replacement forest is a Wetland Reforestation Project on Peace Farm on a tributary of the Mississippi River. We planted native hardwood trees to prevent soil erosion. Today’s picture shows native oaks, hand planted from seed, competing for sunlight. Bayou ridges include nectar source plantings to support honey bees.

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