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3 years ago

What’s a tree like you doing in a place like this? Or West meets East

by Guest Blogger | 5.15.2012 at 7:13am | 2 Comments

By Dr. Dario Martin-Benito

In the northeastern part of Turkey, the highest Pontic Mountains meet the Black Sea. Here altitude drops from more than 3900m to sea level in a less than 30 miles. Both the orographic effect of mountains and the lake effect (well, better sea effect) cause very high precipitation, allowing for rich and productive temperate forest to grow. Snow accumulations of several meters are not rare even at mid elevations as we could observe in a trip a couple of weeks ago. Despite the warm weather we experienced, some roads were still blocked from last winter’s snow, so access to many places was still not possible.


Valley near Artvin, Turkey. (D. Martin-Benito)

This temperate rainforest is very rich in tree species, including mainly broadleaved species (oaks, beech, maples), but also many conifers such as fir, spruce and pines. Coming from Western Europe, where forests have been logged, managed or mismanaged for hundreds of years, a forest with more than six or seven dominant tree species is a biodiversity hotspot to me. For those used to the forests in the American east or the tropics these forests might seem species-depauperate. But they shouldn’t.

Turkey lies at the crossroads between Asia and Europe. The enchanting city of Istanbul, with its amazing culture and long history as a bridge uniting the East and the West, symbolizes this better than any other place. Actually, Istanbul is the only big city in the world that lies on the border of two different continents. The diversity of the Turkish forests also reflects many species migrations over hundreds of thousands of years and might have served as a glacial refuge for many plant species during the last glacial maximum around 16,000 to 60,000 years ago. This way Turkish flora has evolved to be one of the richest floras in Europe or Asia by having components from both continents.

The wet northeastern Turkey also offers some very interesting flora surprises, like the unique umbrella pine (Pinus pinea) growing on a steep slope near the city of Artvin. Umbrella pine receives its common name because, well, it looks a bit like an

3 years ago

Its crown grows round when the tree matures and it is almost completely free of lower branches. The fact that it is also called Italian Stone pine (it was a main character in Vittorio de Sica’s film “Villa Borghese,” known in English as “It happened in the Park”) gives an idea of its distribution range. We can find it all along the Mediterranean and the Iberian Peninsula on the western side comprises more than 75% of its distribution area. But the Artvin forest is very far from the Mediterranean coast and more than 1000 km away from the closest umbrella pine forest.

Artvin umbrella pine forest. (N. Pederson)


The same processes that create high precipitation near the Black Sea coast are responsible for a rain shadow effect further south, as high mountains block precipitation, creating much drier conditions in some valley bottoms. In a matter of less than 32 kilometers precipitation drops from more than 2000mm per year to less than 700mm. That’s like going from Scotland to Rome in less than half an hour’s drive.

Along its broad distribution range, umbrella pine grows together with many different species of the Mediterranean flora, like evergreen oaks, colorful rockroses, or scented herbs like rosemary or oregano. But in this relict forest at 600m of elevation, on the banks of the Çoruh River near the Kaçkas Mountains, umbrella pine has some non-habitual neighbors like Scots pine, hornbeams or hazel, more common in the wetter and colder climates that abound in the surrounding forest as we climbed in great elevation not far from here. The view of these forests reminded me of some deep valleys in Northern Spain, where a similar combination of lake effect and rain shadow creates Mediterranean vegetation dominated by the evergreen holm and cork oaks on southeast facing slopes, while north-facing slopes are covered by beech and deciduous oaks.


3 years ago

Humans have favored umbrella pine for thousands of years for its delicious seeds, which are eaten in many different forms but mainly used for some of the best pastries. Still today, pine nuts are the most valuable product of these pine forests in countries like Spain and Portugal, where they are commercially harvested. So these trees were extensively planted within and outside their natural distribution range probably as early as Roman times. In general, people have been great natural vectors of many tree species, mainly agricultural crops or related trees. Take for example the English Elm, which turned out to be, again, a very Roman clone. The history of the Old World complicates the attribution of whether some of its forests are natural or not. Northeastern Turkey has a centuries-long history as a frontier land, first between the Byzantines and the Turks and later between the Ottoman and the Russian empires. The Artvin Province changed hands several time as late as the early 20th century. Long before that, the southern Black Sea coast was explored by Greek and Phoenician sailors, and Arrian wrote his Periplus Ponti Euxini, a sort of maritime guide describing these coasts. Even in Greek mythology, Jason is thought to have visited the area with the Argonauts in his quest for Colchis (present day Georgia).


Umbrella pine cone - source of the great umbrella pine nut. (N. Pederson)

Despite the long history of human settlement and land use in these regions, probably some of the few old growth temperate forests left are found here, like the Camili Biosphere reserve. But still, little is known about the ecology and dynamics of these forests. We hope that our research in this area will allow us to add some very interesting new perspectives on the ecology and history of both the broadleaved temperate rain forest and this relict pine stand.


Nesibe and Neil begin exploring the Artvin umbrella pine forest. (D. Martin-Benito)

3 years ago

Blog post author Dario Martin-Benito standing proudly in front of a potentially old umbrella pine in Artvin Province. (N. Pederson)


Note: The origin of this stand is unknown. Some say it is a natural stand while others think it was planted by Russians in the late-1800s. Our coring of these trees might or might not solve this question.


Umbrella pine - young and old[ish. (N. Pederson)

3 years ago

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3 years ago

Indigenous rights rising in tropical forests, but big gaps remain Jeremy Hance
May 31, 2012

Children in Dani village in West Papua, Indonesia. The Indonesian constitution gives the government ownership over all land and natural resources. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Children in Dani village in West Papua, Indonesia. The Indonesian constitution gives the government ownership over all land and natural resources. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.


In the last twenty years, rights for indigenous forest dwellers have expanded significantly, according to a new report by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). Covering nearly thirty tropical forest countries, the report finds that indigenous people now hold rights to 31 percent of the forest land in these countries, rising from 21 percent in 1992. However, landmark land rights for indigenous people remain imperiled by lack of enforcement, land-grabbing, government ambivalence, and industrial development. The report comes less than a month before the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development, a meeting of global leaders that marks two decades since the Rio Earth Summit.

"All 27 of the countries we analyzed have one or more laws recognizing legal rights of communities, either nationally or regionally," said Fernanda Almeida, lead author of the report, in a press release. "But the laws themselves are not enough. They must be 'good laws', and they have to be implemented."

The issue goes beyond even human and indigenous rights. Experts and scientists have long argued that one of the best ways to keep rainforests standing is to grant land rights to those who have depended, and safeguarded, the forest for centuries: indigenous people and local communities. Tropical forests provide innumerable ecosystem services to the world: biodiversity conservation, freshwater protection, carbon sequestration, rainfall production, medicinal discoveries, among others. However, tropical forests and the people who depend on them remain threatened by agricultural development, mining, fossil fuel production, industrial logging, and other impacts.

"Forest peoples are caught between the forces of a drive for environmental sustainability and the intense pressure of economic development", explains Jeffrey Hatcher, Director of Global Programs for RRI. "Despite tremendous progress in establishing legal tenure regimes, a lack of political will and bureaucratic obstacles make it a struggle to implement any real action in most forest-rich developing nations."

The tension between industrial development and indigenous rights is apparent in many of the laws enacted by tropical forest nations. Implementation is lacking in many cases and laws are often circumvented, overridden, or simply ignored, in order to allow corporations and governments to exploit the land.

"Although indigenous peoples and other forest communities' rights are now more recognized than ever before, the study finds that the vast majority of the identified tenure regimes restrict community rights by not recognizing one or more of the rights within the extended bundle of rights," reads the report.

For example, over a third of the various legal regimes set up by forest nations for indigenous people still allow outsiders to exploit the forest with impunity, negating one of the principle rights inherent in land ownership.

Still indigenous land rights are on the march. Twenty years ago, ten percent of the world's tropical forests were owned by their indigenous inhabitants, today that percentage has risen to 15. While there has been definite progress over the past twenty years, the report finds that much still needs to be done.

"The majority of the world’s forests remain claimed by governments with almost no recognition of the legal rights of the millions of people who have inhabited and managed the forests for generations. This disconnect is becoming more apparent and more urgent to rectify—especially as forest lands are increasingly targeted for investment."

Africa is lagging behind all other continent in recognizing indigenous rights, according to the report. Ninety-seven percent of the forests on the continent are owned by the state. While Indonesia formally recognizes local community's rights to traditional land, the state owns all of the land and natural resources, essentially trumping indigenous and local rights. On the other side, Latin America has led the way in establishing comprehensive indigenous rights.

"If these laws ever make it off the books, billions of hectares and millions of people will have access to one of the most effective tools available for eradicating poverty and conserving limited resources," explains Andy White, coordinator of RRI. "If negotiators [at Rio+20] are serious about reducing poverty and conserving forests, they will call on forest nations to strengthen community land rights in their forests. Only when such rights are a reality on paper and in practice, will communities be able to do what they do better than anyone else—manage the forests and curb the unsustainable practices now threat

3 years ago

Only when such rights are a reality on paper and in practice, will communities be able to do what they do better than anyone else—manage the forests and curb the unsustainable practices now threatening tropical forest nations worldwide."

BLM can get it right for our Oregon forests‏
3 years ago

Help Us Protect BLM Heritage Forests

Tell the Obama Administration to get it right in Oregon forests.

Western Oregon BLM forests surround our communities. People live next to BLM forests, we recreate in BLM forests, and we get our drinking water from BLM forests. These are the forests that Oregonians often see from our windows or visit on day-trips. Western Oregon BLM forests are our backyard forests and a part of our heritage.

Now we have a chance to get the management of these forests right. Join us in telling the Obama Administration to protect clean water and old growth trees on BLM Heritage Forests.

The western Oregon Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking public input for plans that guide forest management across 2.6 million acres of public lands. You might remember that the Bush Administration attempted to install a plan known as the Western Oregon Plan Revisions (or WOPR) that would have ramped up clearcutting in old-growth and stream side reserves. With your help, KS Wild successfully worked to stop that plan.

The Western Oregon BLM has a new process to bring its plans into the 21st century to reflect the public desire to protect waterways, old forests and at-risk species, and to safeguard the capacity of these forests to mitigate climate change. But there are still powerful interests that seek to open up these forests to clearcutting and weaken protections for waterways and wildlife.

There are three ways you can help make sure that your values are reflected in the BLM new management plan revisions:

1. Send a letter to the BLM to comment in their scoping period for the RMP process. Send in your letter by clicking here.

2. Sign a petition that expresses your support for the values of clean water, salmon habitat and old-growth forests that make Oregon a great place to live. Sign the petition here.

3. Join us at a Voices for the Wild event to talk about the BLM RMP process and what we can all do to help steer the BLM in the right direction. We want to hear your ideas for organizing around BLM!

Meet. Greet. Learn. Act.

Voices for the Wild - Grants Pass
Thursday, June 6th from 6:30-7:30pm
KS Wild office, 950 SW 6th St. Grants Pass

Voices for the Wild - Ashland
Tuesday, June 21st from 6-7pm
Old Headwaters Building, 84 4th St. Ashland

This post was modified from its original form on 06 Jun, 21:22
3 years ago

signed the above petition at #390

3 years ago

clicked Dianne, gracias

3 years ago

thanks.....trees are life.....

3 years ago

thank you-dave and alicia.


3 years ago



Trees are important tools in the fight to stave off global warming, because they absorb and store the key greenhouse gas emitted by our cars and power plants, carbon dioxide (CO2), before it has a chance to reach the upper atmosphere where it can help trap heat around the Earth’s surface.

All Plants Absorb Carbon Dioxide, but Trees are Best
While all living plant matter absorbs CO2 as part of photosynthesis, trees process significantly more than smaller plants due to their large size and extensive root structures. In essence, trees, as kings of the plant world, have much more “woody biomass” to store CO2 than smaller plants, and as a result are considered nature’s most efficient “carbon sinks.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), tree species that grow quickly and live long are ideal carbon sinks. Unfortunately, these two attributes are usually mutually exclusive. Given the choice, foresters interested in maximizing the absorption and storage of CO2 (known as “carbon sequestration”) usually favor younger trees that grow more quickly than their older cohorts. However, slower growing trees can store much more carbon over their significantly longer lives.

Plant the Right Tree for the Right Location
Scientists are busy studying the carbon sequestration potential of different types of trees in various parts of the U.S., including Eucalyptus in Hawaii, loblolly pine in the Southeast, bottomland hardwoods in Mississippi, and poplars in the Great Lakes.

“There are literally dozens of tree species that could be planted depending upon location, climate and soils,” says Stan Wullschleger, a researcher at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory who specializes in the physiological response of plants to global climate change.

Choose Low-Maintenance Trees to Maximize Carbon Absorption
Dave Nowak, a researcher at the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Syracuse, New York has studied the use of trees for carbon sequestration in urban settings across the United States. A 2002 study he co-authored lists the Common Horse-chestnut, Black Walnut, American Sweetgum, Ponderosa Pine, Red Pine, White Pine, London Plane, Hispaniolan Pine, Douglas Fir, Scarlet Oak, Red Oak, Virginia Live Oak and Bald Cypress as examples of trees especially good at absorbing and storing CO2. Nowak advises urban land managers to avoid trees that require a lot of maintenance, as the burning of fossil fuels to power equipment like trucks and chainsaws will only erase the carbon absorption gains otherwise made.

Plant Any Tree Appropriate for Region and Climate to Offset Global Warming
Ultimately, trees of any shape, size or genetic origin help absorb CO2. Most scientists agree that the least expensive and perhaps easiest way for individuals to help offset the CO2 that they generate in their everyday lives is to plant a tree…any tree, as long as it is appropriate for the given region and climate.

Those who wish to help larger tree planting efforts can donate money or time to the National Arbor Day Foundation or American Forests in the U.S., or to the Tree Canada Foundation in Canada.

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it at:, or e-mail:

EarthTalk is a regular feature of E/The Environmental Magazine. Selected EarthTalk columns are reprinted on About Environmental Issues by permission of the editors of E.


8 of the World’s Most Incredible Forests
3 years ago

8 of the World’s Most Incredible Forests

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8 of the World’s Most Incredible Forests


There’s something special about forests. It’s a glimpse, perhaps, into what our world looked like for eons. Though so many of these precious ecosystems have been gobbled up by human expansion and industry, there are still quite a few gems out there. Click through to take a look at eight of the most awe-inspiring forests on the planet. Have a favorite of your own? Tell us about it in the comments section!

See Also: 8 of the World’s Most Beautiful Gardens

Read more:

3 years ago
Every answer you give helps plant a tree: 1 answer =1 leaf, 12 leaves = 1 branch, 15 branches =1 tree

How to Play

  • Choose the best answer for the question to the right.
  • Next question difficulty level depends on your overall skill.
  • Each correct answer you give generates a donation to plant trees, helping our environment in countless ways! Details
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Total trees yesterday: 7.18
3 years ago

Answer questions and plant trees for free:

some tree quotes
3 years ago

"I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do."
-   Willa Cather (1873-1947), O Pioneers 1913   



"Do not be afraid to go out on a limb ... That's where the fruit is."
-   Anonymous  



"Sometimes Thou may'st walk in Groves,
which being full of Majestie will much advance the Soul."
-  Thomas Vaughan,  Anima Magica Abscondita   



Nature Spirits: Tree Spirits, Forest Spirits

One Old Druid's Final Journal: Notebooks of the Librarian of Gushen Grove

Months and Seasons 



"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down?  We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason."
-   Jack Handey  



"Of the infinite variety of fruits which spring from the bosom of the earth, the trees of the wood are the greatest in dignity."
-  Susan Fenimore Cooper  



"I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all."
-   Ogden Nash, Song of the Open Road, 1933   



"The groves were God's first temples." 
-  William Cullen Bryant, A Forest Hymn  



"From a fallen tree, all make kindling."
-   Spanish proverb  

3 years ago

10 Greatest Trees in the World
Science & Tech  (tags: science, environment, study, world, interesting, health, climate )
J.L. - 13 hours ago -

Of the planet's 400 odd billion trees, we go out on a limb and root for our ten favorites. Great pictures!
Tree rings reveal Amazon's rainfall history
2 years ago

Samples from eight cedar trees in Bolivia have helped shed light on the seasonal rainfall in the Amazon basin over the past century, say researchers.

A study led by UK-based scientists said the data from the trees provided a key tool to assess the natural variation in the region's climate system.

It suggested that tree-rings from lowland tropical cedar provided a natural archive of rainfall data.

The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Climate models vary widely in their predictions for the Amazon, and we still do not know whether the Amazon will become wetter or dryer in a warmer world," said co-author Manuel Gloor from the University of Leeds.

"We discovered a very powerful tool to look back into the past, which allowed us to better understand the magnitude of natural variability of the system."

The researchers explained that the region's vast size and position on the equator, the response of the forested area's hydrological cycle "may significantly affect the magnitude and speed of climate change for the entire globe".

Dr Gloor added: "In a similar way that annual layers in polar ice sheets have been used to study past temperatures, we are now able to use tree rings of these species as a natural archive for precipitation over the Amazon basin."

Wooden signal

The team identified the signal in measurements of two different forms (or isotopes) of oxygen within the wood of Cedrela odorata.

Cedrela odorata growth rings (Image: University of Leeds)Seasonal conditions in tropical locations mean many species do not form clear growth rings

Within tropical and sub-tropical evergreen rainforests, trees' growth rings are less pronounced than in other woodlands - such as temperate regions - as there is no discernable dry season and temperature variations are minimal.

But lead author Roel Brienen, from the University's School of Geography, explained: "We already knew that some tropical tree species form annual rings and we also anticipated that the isotopic signature in these rings might record changes in the climate.

"What surprised us, however, is that just eight trees from one single site actually told us how much it rained not just at that site but over the entire Amazon catchment," Dr Brienen added.

"The isotopic values recorded in the tree rings were very closely related to annual variation in the river levels of the Amazon, and thus the amount of rainfall that flowed into the oceans."

The researchers added that about 17% of the annual discharge from rivers into the world's oceans comes from the Amazon.

Also, they said, the basin's hydrological cycle is closely tied to the carbon cycle of the rainforest, which is one of the planet's largest terrestrial biomass carbon pools.

The cedar species used in the study has shallow roots, therefore they are more dependent on water they are able to gather from rainfall that gathers in topsoil.

Dr Brienen observed: "The record is so sensitive, we can say what year we are looking at.

"For example, the extreme El Nino year of 1925-26, which caused very low river levels, clearly stands out in the record."

Until now, reliable meteorological data in the region was scarce and only stretched back over the past 50-60 years.

2 years ago
2 years ago

The Tree of Life

Myth, tradition, inspiration, culture, religion, and many other aspects of human life are written into the rings of history within a tree's trunk. In fact, trees would do just fine if humans ceased to exist—but humans would almost surely die without trees. They reduce carbon dioxide while producing oxygen, moderate ecosystems, prevent erosion, provide shelter, building materials, energy, and even nutrition.

Because of their nearly innumerable benefits, people throughout time have attibuted greater meaning to trees. A common motif that appears again and again in various cultures and religions is the Tree of Life. Depending on where you look, the Tree of Life offers the threshold between life and death (Egypt), grants you immortality once every 3,000 years (China), or supports and connects the underworld, the earth, and the stars (Mesoamerica).

The above pictured Tree of Life is found in the middle of a desert in Bahrain, miles from any other living organism or source of water. It is a 400-year-old mesquite tree, whose roots can sometimes grow to over 160 feet, making it resilient in arid climates. While some people like to think it is the tree of good and evil mentioned in the Bible, locals attibute other spiritual powers to it and have their own occult pracitces surrounding it.

Whatever the case may be, extraordinary trees like this cause legends to flourish and attact visitors from around the world to catch a glimpse of their leafy awesomeness. The following gallery will lift your roots up with amazing trees and their stories.

2 years ago

Lonely At The End of the Rainbow

When was the last time you thought about how awesome trees are? Sure, we all dream about constructing the ultimate treehouse. And, yes, trees do that whole photosynthesis thing, which is eight kinds of cool—as is preventing erosion, moderating ecosystems, and providing materials for energy and shelter. But, as these five facts will show you, there’s so much more to appreciate and learn about the gentle giants of our forests, or, as in the photo above, a beach on India’s Andaman Islands.

2 years ago

They ‘Talk’ to Each Other

Did you know that certain types of trees warn each other when they’re under siege by insects? Since the late 1970s, researchers have studied this phenomenon in willows and poplars. Collectively, they’ve found that trees infested with insects will produce an excess of chemicals in their leaves. These chemicals not only reduce the nutritional value of the leaves for the insects, but also warn neighboring trees. Following the warning, nearby trees will begin to produce the same chemicals, defending themselves from a similar attack.

2 years ago

They’re Cheap and Natural Recyclers

Trees are all-mighty recyclers. They regulate our air quality through photosynthesis, absorbing nearly a ton of CO2 in a lifetime and produce about 260 pounds of oxygen a year. Now they are being used to recycle waste. Willow trees are used in Enkoping, Sweden, to clean sewage sludge, reuse wastewater, and recycle liquid from landfills. The town spreads its waste around the trees, which, in turn, decompose and recycle it. Enkoping capitalizes on the faster-growing trees by harvesting them for “biomass [electricity] production.”

2 years ago

They Save You Money

Mature trees that are “properly placed around buildings” can protect a household from excessive exposure to the sun or wind. According to the U.S. Forest Service, such tree cover can conserve air conditioning use by 30 percent and heating use by 20 to 30 percent. But wait, there’s more! The Service also states that “healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value.” Sounds like a win-win.

2 years ago

Trees Prevent Crime

From 2005 to 2007, the U.S. Forest Service studied the correlation of crime and the presence of trees in Portland, Oregon. They found that areas with larger trees experienced less crime than those with smaller ones. The study concluded that trees serve as a symbolic safety net. Neighborhoods and houses with large trees are assumed to be better kept and protected than those without them. Furthermore, they speculated that smaller trees provide better cover for criminals seeking to sneak up on a residence.

2 years ago

They’re Just As Stressed As We Are

Trees are very sensitive to their environments. The disruption of an ecosystem—whether caused by man or nature—can greatly stress a tree. In urban environments, poor soil quality, overcrowded tree planters, and competition for water between different plants are the most common stressors to trees. If not treated, such stress can inhibit a tree’s growth or photosynthesis cycle. So, the next time you see a stressed tree, help it out! Keep your soil nutrient-rich and give your trees plenty of space to breath.

2 years ago

Stunning Photography of To The Arctic Book and Film : TreeHugger

Environment  (tags: animals, climate, climate-change, destruction, ecosystems, endangered, habitat, humans, nature, oceans, protection, Sustainabililty, weather, wildlife, world )
Daf - 10 hours ago -

Wildlife photographer Florian Schulz has made a career out of visiting some of the coldest places on earth and documenting the wildlife and incredible beauty of these extremes. His work has come together in To The Arctic,

2 years ago



This post was modified from its original form on 28 Apr, 21:42
2 years ago

clicked Dianne Lynn, gracias

This topic is closed