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Why NASA wants you to point your smartphone at trees - The Verge
"This NASA app gives nature walks new purpose"



"NASA would like you to take a picture of a tree, please. The space agency’s ICESat-2 satellite estimates the height of trees from space, and NASA has created a new tool for citizen scientists that can help check those measurements from the ground. All it takes is a smartphone, the app, an optional tape measure, and a tree. So to help, the Verge Science video team went on a mission to measure some massive trees in California as accurately as they can.

Launched in September 2018, the ICESat-2 satellite carries an instrument called ATLAS that shoots 60,000 pulses of light at the Earth’s surface every second it orbits the planet. “It’s basically a laser in space,” says Tom Neumann, the project scientist for ICESat-2 at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. By measuring the satellite’s position, the angle, and how long it takes for those laser beams to bounce back from the surface, scientists can measure the elevation of sea ice, land ice, the ocean, inland water, and trees. Knowing how tall trees are can help researchers estimate the health of the world’s forests and the amount of carbon dioxide they can soak up.

But Neumann says that a big open question is how good those measurements from space actually are. That’s where the citizen scientist comes in — to help verify them. Some are more challenging than others. “You can’t really ask a bunch of school kids in Pennsylvania to go to Antarctica to measure the ice sheet height for you for a calibration,” he says. But you can ask them to take their smartphones outside, which is exactly what NASA is doing with its GLOBE Observer app. “You’ve got all sorts of great terrain and features right in your backyard that you could go out and do these measurements that would be useful for us,” Neumann says."
nasa  maps  mapping  measurement  2019  trees  citizenscience  crowdsourcing  classideas  math  mathematics  trigonometry 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Shade
[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122670547777871874

who concludes…
https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122685558688485376
"🌴Imagine what LA could do if it tied street enhancement to a comprehensive program of shade creation: widening the sidewalks, undergrounding powerlines, cutting bigger tree wells, planting leafy, drought-resistant trees, + making room for arcades, galleries, + bus shelters.🌳"]

"All you have to do is scoot across a satellite map of the Los Angeles Basin to see the tremendous shade disparity. Leafy neighborhoods are tucked in hillside canyons and built around golf courses. High modernist homes embrace the sun as it flickers through labor-intensive thickets of eucalyptus. Awnings, paseos, and mature ficus trees shade high-end shopping districts. In the oceanfront city of Santa Monica, which has a dedicated municipal tree plan and a staff of public foresters, all 302 bus stops have been outfitted with fixed steel parasols (“blue spots”) that block the sun. 9 Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles flats, there are vast gray expanses — playgrounds, parking lots, and wide roads — with almost no trees. Transit riders bake at unsheltered bus stops. The homeless take refuge in tunnels and under highway overpasses; some chain their tarps and tents to fences on Skid Row and wait out the day in the shadows of buildings across the street.

Shade is often understood as a luxury amenity, lending calm to courtyards and tree-lined boulevards, cooling and obscuring jewel boxes and glass cubes. But as deadly, hundred-degree heatwaves become commonplace, we have to learn to see shade as a civic resource that is shared by all. In the shade, overheated bodies return to equilibrium. Blood circulation improves. People think clearly. They see better. In a physiological sense, they are themselves again. For people vulnerable to heat stress and exhaustion — outdoor workers, the elderly, the homeless — that can be the difference between life and death. Shade is thus an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.

A few years back, Los Angeles passed sweeping revisions to the general plan meant to encourage residents to walk, bike, and take more buses and trains. But as Angelenos step out of their cars, they are discovering that many streets offer little relief from the oppressive sunshine. Not everyone has the stamina to wait out the heat at an unprotected bus stop, or the money to duck into an air-conditioned cafe. 11 When we understand shade as a public resource — a kind of infrastructure, even — we can have better discussions about how to create it and distribute it fairly.

Yet cultural values complicate the provision of shade. Los Angeles is a low-rise city whose residents prize open air and sunshine. 12 They show up at planning meetings to protest tall buildings that would block views or darken sunbathing decks, and police urge residents in high-crime neighborhoods to cut down trees that hide drug dealing and prostitution. Shade trees are designed out of parks to discourage loitering and turf wars, and designed off streets where traffic engineers demand wide lanes and high visibility. Diffuse sunlight is rare in many parts of Los Angeles. You might trace this back to a cultural obsession with shadows and spotlights, drawing a line from Hollywood noir — in which long shadows and unlit corners represent the criminal underworld — to the contemporary politics of surveillance. 13 The light reveals what hides in the dark.

When I think of Los Angeles, I picture Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village, a streetcar suburb converted into a ten-lane automobile moonscape. People say they like this street for its wall of low-slung, pre-war storefronts, home to record stores and restaurants. To me, it’s a never-ending, vertiginous tunnel of light. I squint to avoid the glare from the white stucco walls, bare pavement, and car windows. From a climate perspective, bright surfaces are good; they absorb fewer sun rays and lessen the urban heat-island effect. But on an unshaded street they can also concentrate and intensify local sunlight."



"At one time, they did. “Shade was integral, and incorporated into the urban design of southern California up until the 1930s,” Davis said. “If you go to most of the older agricultural towns … the downtown streets were arcaded. They had the equivalent of awnings over the sidewalk.” Rancho homes had sleeping porches and shade trees, and buildings were oriented to keep their occupants cool. The original settlement of Los Angeles conformed roughly to the Law of the Indies, a royal ordinance that required streets to be laid out at a 45-degree angle, ensuring access to sun in the winter and shade in the summer. Spanish adobes were built around a central courtyard cooled by awnings and plants. 15 As the city grew, the California bungalow — a low, rectangular house, with wide eaves, inspired by British Indian hill stations — became popular with the middle class. “During the 1920s, they were actually prefabricated in factories,” Davis said. “There are tens of thousands of bungalows, particularly along the Alameda corridor … that were manufactured by Pacific Ready-Cut Homes, which advertised itself as the Henry Ford of home construction.” 16

All that changed with the advent of cheap electricity. In 1936, the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light completed a 266-mile high-voltage transmission line from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), which could supply 70 percent of the city’s power at low cost. Southern Californians bought mass-produced housing with electric heating and air conditioning. By the end of World War II, there were nearly 4 million people living in Los Angeles County, and the new neighborhoods were organized around driveways and parking lots. Parts of the city, Davis said, became “virtually treeless deserts.”"



"It’s easy to see how this hostile design reflected the values of the peak automobile era, but there is more going on here. The destruction of urban refuge was part of a long-term strategy to discourage gay cruising, drug use, and other “shady” activities downtown. In 1964, business owners sponsored another redesign that was intended, in the hyperbolic words of the Los Angeles Times, to finally clear out the “deviates and criminals.” The city removed the perimeter benches and culled even more palms and shade trees, so that office workers and shoppers could move through the park without being “accosted by derelicts and ‘bums.’” Sunlight was weaponized. “Before long, pedestrians will be walking through, instead of avoiding, Pershing Square,” the Times declared. “And that is why parks are built.” 19"



"High-concept architecture is one way to transform the shadescape of Los Angeles. Street trees are another. Unfortunately, the city’s most ubiquitous tree — the iconic Washington robusta, or Mexican fan palm — is about as useful in that respect as a telephone pole.

Palm trees have been identified with southern California since 1893, when Canary Island date palms — the fatter, stouter cousin — were displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair. On the trunk of one of those palms, boosters posted the daily temperatures at a San Diego beach, and the tree itself came to stand for “sunshine and soft air.” In his indispensable history, Trees in Paradise, Jared Farmer traces the palm’s transformation from a symbol of a healthy climate to a symbol of glamour, via its association with Hollywood. 26

Despite that early fame, palm trees did not really take over Los Angeles until the 1930s, when a citywide program set tens of thousands of palms along new or recently expanded roads. They were the ideal tree for an automobile landscape. Hardy, cheap, and able to grow anywhere, palm trees are basically weeds. Their shallow roots curl up into a ball, so they can be plugged into small pavement cuts without entangling underground sewer and water mains or buckling sidewalks. As Farmer puts it, palms are “symbiotic infrastructure,” beautifying the city without making a mess. Plus, as Mary Pickford once pointed out, the slender trunks don’t block the view of storefronts, which makes them ideal for window-shopping from the driver’s seat. The city’s first forester, L. Glenn Hall, planted more than 25,000 palm trees in 1931 alone. 27

Hall’s vision, though, was more ambitious than that. He planned to landscape all of Los Angeles’s roads with 1.2 million street trees. Tall palms, like Washingtonia robusta, would go on major thoroughfares, and side streets would be lined with elm, pine, red maple, liquidambar, ash, and sycamore. A Depression-era stimulus package provided enough funds to employ 400 men for six months. But the forestry department put the burden of watering and maintenance on property owners, and soon it charged for cutting new tree wells, too. Owners weren’t interested. So Hall concentrated his efforts on the 28 major boulevards that would serve the 1932 Olympics — including the now-iconic Ventura, Wilshire, Figueroa, Vermont, Western, and Crenshaw — and committed the city to pay for five years of tree maintenance. That may well have bankrupted the tree planting program, and before long the city was urging property owners to take on all costs, including the trees themselves.

This history partly explains the shade disparity in Los Angeles today. Consider the physical dimensions of a major city street in Hall’s time. Between the expanding road and narrowing sidewalks was an open strip of grass, three to ten feet wide, known as the parkway. Having rejected a comprehensive parks system, Los Angeles relied on these roadside strips to plant its urban forest, but over time the parkways were diminished by various agencies in the name of civic improvements — chiefly, road widening. 29 And the stewardship of these spaces was always ambiguous. The parkways are public land, owned and regulated by the … [more]
losangeles  trees  shade  history  palmtrees  urbanplanning  electricity  inequality  2019  sambloch  mikedavis  urban  urbanism  cars  transportation  disparity  streets  values  culture  pedestrians  walking  heat  light  socal  california  design  landscape  wealth  sidewalks  publictransit  transit  privacy  reynerbanham  surveillance  sun  sunshine  climatechange  sustainability  energy  ericgarcetti  antoniovillaraigosa  environment  realestate  law  legal  cities  civics 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
New York City Trees
"Katie Holten has created a New York City Tree Alphabet.

Each letter of the Latin alphabet is assigned a drawing of a tree from the NYC Parks Department’s existing native and non-native trees, as well as species that are to be planted as a result of the changing climate. For example, A = Ash.

Everyone is invited to download the free font, NYC Trees, and to write words, poems, messages, or love letters, in Trees. We’ll select some of these messages to plant with real trees around the city. JOIN US! *

The New York City Tree Alphabet is an alphabetical planting palette, allowing us to rewrite the urban landscape by planting messages around the city with real trees. What messages would you like to see planted?

Share your words, messages, screenshots with us. Please email: studio@katieholten.com

* JOIN US! In Spring 2019 we’ll begin planting messages with real trees around NYC.

Download the font here

Follow Katie Holten for more info: @katieholten

#nyctrees #nyctreestalk #nyctreealphabet"
trees  nyc  typography  typefaces  glyphs  icons  fonts  katieholden 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Did a fig tree grow out of the remains of a Turkish Cypriot man missing since 1974? - Cyprus Mail
"News was spreading fast on social media and foreign media over the weekend that a missing Turkish Cypriot man’s remains from 1974 were uncovered after a fig tree grew out of a seed in his stomach.

The story initially published in Turkish newspaper Hurriyet last week has been picked up by the British tabloids, MSN and other outlets. According to the MSN account, Ahmet Hergune was killed in 1974 but his body was not discovered for decades until the fig tree connection.

“It was eventually discovered because the tree which grew from him was unusual for the area. Incredibly, the dead man had been taken into a cave with two others and both of them had been killed by dynamite that was then thrown in after them,” the report said.

“Yet the dynamite also blew a hole in the side of the cave, allowing light to flood into the darkened interior which in turn allowed the fig tree to grow from the man’s body.”

It goes on to say the tree was spotted in 2011 by a researcher who was curious as to how the tree had ended up in the cave and especially in a mountainous area where it was not usually found.

“While carrying out his research and digging around the tree, he was then horrified to find a human body underneath and raised the alarm. On digging further, police recovered a total of three bodies.”

The tale is fascinating but not quite an accurate description, according to Cyprus Mail sources close to the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) on both sides of the divide.

But there is also much more to the story than was gleaned either from the short news reports, or the information obtained by the Cyprus Mail from the CMP sources.

According to the CMP sources, the case dates back to 2006 when the committee received information that there were Turkish Cypriot remains – three people – in a cave close to the sea and they went to excavate in accordance with their mandate.

The Cyprus Mail sources said it involved cave close to a beach in Limassol, and indeed there was a fig tree that had grown out of the cave. Over the years the tree had grown to the point where it caused the roof of the cave to collapse.

The entrance to the cave itself was underwater and blocked off due to the dynamite blast but the roots of the tree were inside the cave – some three metres down – and the tree had grown there for decades.

The remains of the three Turkish Cypriots, the sources said, were found several metres away from the tree roots during the excavations, suggesting it did not grow from a seed inside the deceased man. “There were similar news reports at the time that the tree had grown from the remains,” said one source.

Sources in the north close to the CMP also concurred that the remains were found away from the tree, adding that scientifically it was not possible that it happened the way it was related by the family. “It’s their belief,” the sources said. They added that sources said Hergune’s family wanted to believe that it happened that way. “It helped them with finding closure.”

Hergune’s sister Munur Herguner, 87, said, according to the MSN account: “We used to live in a village with a population of 4,000, half Greek, half Turkish. In 1974, the disturbances began. My brother Ahmet joined the Turkish Resistance Organisation (TMT). On 10th June, the Greeks took him away.”

She added: “For years we searched for my brother in vain.”

But she said that unknown to her, the grave had ended up being marked by the fig tree that grew from the seed in his stomach.

“The tree was spotted in 2011 by a researcher who was curious as to how the tree had ended up in the cave and especially in a mountainous area where it was not usually found,” the report goes on.

“While carrying out his research and digging around the tree, he was then horrified to find a human body underneath and raised the alarm. On digging further, police recovered a total of three bodies,” it added.

Munur Herguner said her brother was believed to have been the one that had eaten the fig, and blood samples from her family matched DNA fragments which confirmed it was her brother’s final resting place.

“As detectives investigated the killing, they discovered that the brother Ahmet and the other two had been killed by dynamite in the cave, and the blast had made a hole in the cave that let in light. He had apparently eaten the fig shortly before he died,” the report added.

His sister said: “The fig remnants in my brother’s stomach grew into a tree as the sun crept into the cave through the hole made by the explosion. They found my brother thanks to that fig tree.”

But there is even more to the story.

Turkish Cypriot journalist, author and peace activist Sevgul Uludag recounted the tale in 2008, two years after the find and just before the funeral of the three Turkish Cypriots whose remains had since been identified by the CMP.

Uludag was visiting by chance the same beach without making the connection between the ‘fig tree’ story from 2006 and the location she was currently at, Ayios Georgios Alamanos, until someone mentioned the connection.

According to her account, back in 1974, Ahmet Cemal was taken by three Greek Cypriots from the coffeeshop of the village Episkopi and was taken here to be killed together with Erdogan Enver and Unal Adil who were taken from the Chiftlik area of Limassol. According to Uludag, there was no entrance to the cave inside the rocks from land, so the three must have been brought by boat.

“The last thing Ahmet Cemal ate that day on the 10th of August 1974, was figs from his garden. But these were `Anadolidiga` type of figs, growing in his garden. This type of fig did not grow anywhere – it could grow in Episkopi and it only grew if it liked its soil… So the fig tree growing with hundreds of roots from the cave and coming out at the top of the cave and showing where the `missing` Turkish Cypriots were, this type of a fig tree called `Anadolidiga`,” she says.

Uludag observes that an ordinary person would not notice the significance of that fig tree on the beach but the beach was also a favourite beach for Xenophon Kallis, a Greek Cypriot, and head of the foreign ministry’s humanitarian affairs directorate who was deeply involved in missing persons issue, so in essence not some random person as related by the media over the weekend.

“Gradually as the fig tree grew, Kallis noticed the change in the scenery on the beach. What was that fig tree doing there? Kallis checked old photos he had of this beach – he drove for kilometres on this coast but there was no sign of another fig tree. And there was no place for the birds to perch on to poo inside the cave – the whole area was rocks and shinya,” wrote Uludag.

She said he discovered the fig tree was of the type `Anadolidiga` and as he deepened his research, he found out that the three Turkish Cypriot `missing`, among them Ahmet Cemal from Episkopi, was killed and buried in that cave.

“When the dynamite exploded [at the time], the UN had heard and had made a report about it. And Kallis discovered that the last thing Ahmet Cemal ate was `Anadolidiga` figs from his garden,” added Uludag.

“Maybe this `Anadolidiga` fig tree grew because of the last meal of Ahmet Cemal – maybe the bats had eaten this type of fig and came to the cave or maybe there is another explanation. But whatever the explanation, what was important was that this fig tree led Kallis to finding these `missing persons`. The fig tree had shown him the way…”

Uludag’s full account here:

https://www.stwing.upenn.edu/~durduran/hamambocu/authors/svg/svg2_13_2008.html "
plants  trees  figs  entanglement  2018  cyprus  1974  conflict  archaeology  morethanhuman  multispecies  fruit  closure  turkey 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Los Angeles trees and flowers: An illustrated guide - Curbed LA
"From palm trees to sweet jasmine, get to know some of the flora that give LA its distinctive local color"
losangeles  plants  illustration  trees  2018  monicaahanonu  paulineo'connor 
september 2018 by robertogreco
The Planet Now Has More Trees Than It Did 35 Years Ago - Pacific Standard
"Tree cover loss in the tropics was outweighed by tree cover gain in subtropical, temperate, boreal, and polar regions."
trees  reforestation  plants  environment  2018 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Where Did All the Jacaranda Trees in Los Angeles Come From?
"When you look up at a vibrant purple jacaranda tree—or a bush of bougainvillea, sprout of birds of paradise, or fragrant patch of jasmine, for that matter—you can thank Kate Sessions, a pioneering female horticulturalist who helped make over the natural environment of Southern California.

Sessions was born in Barbary Coast-era San Francisco, amongst the gold speculators and vigilantes. Early in her childhood her family moved near Lake Merritt, which, in 1870, would be designated as the country’s first official wildlife refuge. She went on to be among the small cohort of women to attend U.C. Berkeley in the initial years after the Board of Regents opened admission to female students, and, in 1881, received her degree in natural science.

After graduation, Sessions went on to enroll in business school in San Francisco, but was lured south by an offer of a job as a school teacher in San Diego.

Plants had always been her passion, but once she arrived in Southern California, that passion exploded. Her job as a teacher lasted only one school year, but she quickly purchased a nursery and flower shop and established flower cultivating fields in Coronado, Pacific Beach, and Mission Hills.

She was fascinated with plants growing in exotic parts of the world, and was experimenting with bringing seeds and plants from Europe, Mexico, and South America, as well as cultivating native California plants. She became the most sought-after landscape designer for fashionable homeowners and residential developers in the fast-growing city.

In 1892, she made the deal that would change California’s landscape forever. Sessions leased 32 acres of land owned by the city of San Diego which was then known as City Park. The field was barren, pest-ridden, and lacked any formal landscaping. Sessions agreed to amend the situation by planting 100 new trees per year in the park and 300 trees per year elsewhere on public lands around the city. In exchange, she could use the property as a kind of laboratory and growing field. That property was filled with cypress, eucalyptus, palms, and jacaranda—and, along the way, was re-dubbed Balboa Park.

A bronze statue of Sessions was placed in the park in 1998, and it’s still the only statue of a historical woman anywhere in San Diego. In 2006 the Women’s Museum of California inducted her into their Women’s Hall of Fame and produced a short video about her contributions to the city.

[video embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JmBhL_R-e0 ]

Word of San Diego’s transformation into a colorful and lush environment quickly spread up the coast, as did the popularity of the exotic plants that Sessions demonstrated could flourish here. Jacarandas, with their beautiful blossoms in a distinctive purple color, were an easy sell, and in the 1920s and ’30s they were planted extensively in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

Sessions died in 1940, but her legacy continued as Los Angeles grew and jacarandas became one of the most recognizable trees in the region.

Most of the jacarandas seen in L.A. are Jacaranda mimosifolia, one of the 49 different types of flowering jacaranda trees. One specimen in Santa Ana is on the official registry of Big Trees, measuring 58 feet high, 98 inches around the trunk, and more than 73 feet across the spread of the branches."
katesessions  jacarandas  california  losangeles  trees  plants  2018  sandiego 
july 2018 by robertogreco
A Color of the Sky by Tony Hoagland | Poetry Foundation
"Windy today and I feel less than brilliant,
driving over the hills from work.
There are the dark parts on the road
when you pass through clumps of wood
and the bright spots where you have a view of the ocean,
but that doesn’t make the road an allegory.

I should call Marie and apologize
for being so boring at dinner last night,
but can I really promise not to be that way again?
And anyway, I’d rather watch the trees, tossing
in what certainly looks like sexual arousal.

Otherwise it’s spring, and everything looks frail;
the sky is baby blue, and the just-unfurling leaves
are full of infant chlorophyll,
the very tint of inexperience.

Last summer’s song is making a comeback on the radio,
and on the highway overpass,
the only metaphysical vandal in America has written
MEMORY LOVES TIME
in big black spraypaint letters,

which makes us wonder if Time loves Memory back.

Last night I dreamed of X again.
She’s like a stain on my subconscious sheets.
Years ago she penetrated me
but though I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed,
I never got her out,
but now I’m glad.

What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle.
What I thought was a brick wall turned out to be a tunnel.
What I thought was an injustice
turned out to be a color of the sky.

Outside the youth center, between the liquor store
and the police station,
a little dogwood tree is losing its mind;

overflowing with blossomfoam,
like a sudsy mug of beer;
like a bride ripping off her clothes,

dropping snow white petals to the ground in clouds,

so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.
It’s been doing that all week:
making beauty,
and throwing it away,
and making more."
poems  poetry  morethanhuman  multispecies  tonyhoagland  2003  plants  trees  wastefulness  making  spring  everyday  ephemeral 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Tree That Owns Itself - Wikipedia
"The Tree That Owns Itself is a white oak tree that has, according to legend, legal ownership of itself and of all land within eight feet (2.4 m) of its base. The tree, also called the Jackson Oak, is located at the corner of South Finley and Dearing Streets in Athens, Georgia, United States. The original tree, thought to have started life between the mid-16th and late 18th century, fell in 1942, but a new tree was grown from one of its acorns, and planted in the same location. The current tree is sometimes referred to as the Son of The Tree That Owns Itself. Both trees have appeared in numerous national publications, and the site is a local landmark."
multispecies  posthumanism  trees  transhumanism  morethanhuman 
june 2018 by robertogreco
On the Wild Edge in Iceland | Center for Humans & Nature
"Picture a country hanging from the Arctic Circle, where at least 80 percent of the people leave room in their minds for the existence of elves, “Huldu-folk” (hidden people), or other netherworldly creatures; where wild means vast stretches of grayness: gray, craggy mountain peaks, gray gravel, and gray ash from yesteryear’s volcanoes."



"As an ecologist, I was painfully aware of the stresses that ecosystems worldwide experience from grazing, climate change, and other human-imposed factors. What I wanted to know was this: Does a forest with a history of higher levels of disturbance have a more difficult time responding to additional stress than a forest with a lesser history of disturbance?

There was one way to find out. I would impose a disturbance on three woodland sites and observe the response. My three sites were strikingly similar birch woodlands, but they had a few important differences in their disturbance histories. My Site 1 (the forest in the valley in eastern Iceland that had me believing in elves) had not seen any serious sheep grazing for about a century. My Site 2, in a valley adjoining Site 1, was remarkably similar in all respects to Site 1, except that it had never been protected from grazing. My Site 3 was farther north—a harsher climate, a shorter growing season—and, like Site 2, it had never been protected from sheep grazing. These sites were on a gradient of stress from the least stress (at Site 1) to the most stress (at Site 3). Knowing how important nitrogen is to plant survival at high altitudes (and latitudes), I would track foliar nitrogen as my clue, using it as my insight into how the woodlands were handling stress.

I didn’t know at the time that some of the ecological models concerning disturbance, ecosystem shifts, resilience (or lack thereof), and crossing of ecological thresholds were based on psychological models of human psychic breaks and breakdowns. But now it makes sense. At what point does the accumulation of disturbances become so profound that a person—or a forest—is no longer able to function?

It is important to note that the prospect of disturbing the woodland sites was not an easy one for me. I was conflicted. I was studying forests because I loved them. Was it ethical to stress my subject and push it closer to the edge, even if my long-term goal was to understand (and even promote) ecosystem resilience? My advisor, Kristiina Vogt, comforted me: the forest disturbance would be minor and temporary. The ecosystems would bounce back.

With that reassurance, I bought a lot of sugar (actually, almost half a metric ton) for my disturbance experiment. While ecologist and forest service colleagues in Iceland questioned whether I was embarking on a homemade liquor and bootlegging project, the truth was that my unusually large sugar purchase had everything to do with nitrogen. A story from one of my fellow doctoral students, Michael Booth, can help me explain how.

Michael used to begin his forest ecology presentations with a picture of a forest upside down. The roots of the trees were featured on top and the leaves down below. His point? Much of what is running the show in a forest is under our feet. In any given handful of dirt, there are millions to billions of bacteria. And these microbes can be the tail that wags the forest dog, especially when it comes to nitrogen. While these bacteria play a key role in making nitrogen available to trees and plants in their preferred form, bacteria also need nitrogen for their own survival. Can you guess what happens to nitrogen in a handful of soil when there is a significant increase in the bacterial population? The answer: The microbes take the bulk of the nitrogen for themselves, leaving less nitrogen available for plants.

I wonder if a happy, healthy forest is one that has just the right number of microbes (whether that number would be in the millions or billions, I have no idea), such that the microbial community gets the nitrogen it needs while giving the trees and other vegetation the nitrogen they need. While notions of “balance” in nature are very out of fashion, to say the least, the concept seems applicable here. Too few or too many microbes would be a problem—from the perspective of the Icelandic woodlands, anyway. At both ends of the spectrum, there would not be enough nitrogen for the plants and trees."



"At the grazed sites, perhaps the warmer soil temperatures allowed for expansion of the birch woodland into higher altitudes. While the warmer soils may have allowed the birch to exist at higher altitudes, the trees at the grazed sites are also at a higher risk for nitrogen competition (from microbes enjoying the warmer soils) and grazing (from the aforementioned sheep). In other words, the birches at grazed tree lines exist higher up on the mountainside, but at the same time, they live closer to their edge. While this may not be the safest route for the birches, it is perhaps worth the risk because the upside is pretty big: the chance at life.

It sounds familiar. Given the choice, I would rather be on the edge of human experience, certainly on the edge of human knowledge, and even tolerate the edge of emotional comfort, if it meant life. And does not history (our own and others’) show that experiences on the edge can offer important insights into both what it means to be human and what it means to be one human in particular? For me, “living on the edge” is part of the daring—and the learning—that is central to the evolution of life.

There are many expressions of Iceland’s wildness, and all these expressions depend on the presence or absence of sheep. Perhaps the most common depiction of the Icelandic wild involves Iceland’s gray moonscapes, with sheep—and not trees. However, these starkly beautiful landscapes have crossed over an ecological threshold beyond which it is very hard to return. These landscapes are wild and wooly, but if you do not know how they came to be as they are, you may not be able to put your finger on the sadness that you might sense in the haunting gray vistas.

One could argue that the lush, protected woodlands are Iceland’s most wild places, despite the fact that they are enclosed by human-made fences. These sheepless woodlands offer wild green memories seemingly borrowed from the time of the Vikings and carried into the present day by their human—and elf—protectors. On the other hand, in some places, Icelanders ask the Icelandic Forest Service not to plant more trees. The chief of the Icelandic Forest Service, Þröstur Eysteinsson, told me that in such cases he hears the complaint that trees will “ruin the view.” “They are optimists,” Eysteinsson retorts, because it is, of course, no small task to restore a whole forest ecosystem anywhere, much less in such a harsh climate.

If I were to show you what I believe to be the wildest places in Iceland, however, I would take you to the forest limit, to a birch woodland populated with a good number of sheep and enough moss to satisfy the average elf. Mind you, this place would not have too many sheep, nor too many soil microbes, for that matter. I would take you to a place where birches breathe life into a landscape shared with sheep and their people, a place where the story told by both the sagas and the landscape itself is a story of life taking a chance—on the edge."
iceland  trees  forests  brookeparryhecht  2018  elves  sheep  fences  humans  anthropocene  edges  seams  ecology 
june 2018 by robertogreco
David George Haskell on Twitter: "Time is context dependent. For the Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine, a needle is fifteen summers, a sapling a century. For every species, a tempo, a velocity. Wood from over 50 human generations ago, on a Precambrian mount
"Time is context dependent. For the Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine, a needle is fifteen summers, a sapling a century. For every species, a tempo, a velocity.
Wood from over 50 human generations ago, on a Precambrian mountain."

[via: https://twitter.com/timoslimo/status/1007738124053577729

""“time is a tree (this life one leaf)
but love is the sky and i am for you
just so long and long enough”
- e.e. cummings "
time  context  nature  life  velocity  trees  eecummings  poems  poetry  multispecies  morethanhuman 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Scientists Still Can't Decide How to Define a Tree - The Atlantic
"So far, there is no standout gene or set of genes that confers tree-ness, nor any particular genome feature. Complexity? Nope: Full-on, whole-genome duplication (an often-used proxy for complexity) is prevalent throughout the plant kingdom. Genome size? Nope: Both the largest and smallest plant genomes belong to herbaceous species (Paris japonica and Genlisea tuberosa, respectively—the former a showy little white-flowered herb, the latter a tiny, carnivorous thing that traps and eats protozoans).

A chat with Neale confirms that tree-ness is probably more about what genes are turned on than what genes are present. “From the perspective of the genome, they basically have all the same stuff as herbaceous plants,” he said. “Trees are big, they’re woody, they can get water from the ground to up high. But there does not seem to be some profound unique biology that distinguishes a tree from a herbaceous plant.”

Notwithstanding the difficulty in defining them, being a tree has undeniable advantages—it allows plants to exploit the upper reaches where they can soak up sunlight and disperse pollen and seeds with less interference than their ground-dwelling kin. So maybe it’s time to start thinking of tree as a verb, rather than a noun—tree-ing, or tree-ifying. It’s a strategy, a way of being, like swimming or flying, even though to our eyes it’s happening in very slow motion. Tree-ing with no finish in sight—until an ax, or a pest, or a bolt of Thanksgiving lightning strikes it down."
biology  botany  classification  trees  2018  verbs  rachelehrenberg  plants  science  genetics  multispecies  wood  longevity  andrewgroover  ronaldlanner  evolution  davidneale  genomes  complexity 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Un albero un anno - One tree one year - YouTube
"Un faggio “speciale" monitorato per un anno intero da un occhio nascosto, che non si chiude mai.
Quattro stagioni che scorrono attorno a un importante crocevia di odori, segnali e messaggi lasciati
quotidianamente dalla straordinaria fauna dell'Appennino.

Quello che vedete qui è solo una sintesi di questa esperienza incredibile.

In questi due anni di lavoro di campo, noi abbiamo compreso che nella vastità della foresta gli alberi non sono affatto tutti uguali.

Ci sono alberi dove deporre le proprie uova o trovare un rifugio sicuro; alberi su cui cercare il cibo o, più semplicemente, grattarsi e lasciare così una traccia del proprio passaggio.

Chissà quanti sono questi alberi...

Ci auguriamo che dopo questi 100 “battiti" guarderete alle splendide faggete vetuste del PNALM con altri occhi!

Grazie per averci seguito ogni settimana e arrivederci a presto,

Bruno D’Amicis & Umberto Esposito
Il team di “ForestBeat"

Un ringraziamento sincero e doveroso va ai Servizi Scientifico e di Sorveglianza del PNALM per la preziosa collaborazione.

A “special” beech tree kept under observation for a whole year by a concealed eye, which never closes.

Four seasons unfolding around a crossroad of smells, signals and messages left behind by the extraordinary wildlife of the Apennines.

What you see here is just a small part of this incredible experience.

In the past two years, we have understood that in the vastity of the forest each tree is unique.

There are trees where to lay your eggs or where to find a safe cover; trees on which to look for food or, simply, to scratch your back and thus leave behind a trace of your passage.

Who knows how many of such trees are around…

We wish that after these 100 “beats” you can look at the gorgeous PNALM beech forests with different eyes!

Thanks for following us every week until here.

See you soon,

Bruno D’Amicis & Umberto Esposito,
The “ForestBeat" team

We want to thank here the PNALM Scientific and Ranger Service for their precious collaboration.

Bruno D’Amicis/Umberto Esposito - www.silva.pictures
Scoprite di più su / Discover more on: www.forestbeat.it
#parcoabruzzo #forestbeat #faggetevetuste #immaginieavventure
@brunodamicisphoto, @silvapictures, @wildlifeadventures"
classideas  multispecies  nature  morethanhuman  wildlife  trees  2017  seasons  animals 
february 2018 by robertogreco
25 small ways to make SF a better place - Curbed SF
"When it comes to making change at the local level, sometimes the tiniest actions can spark the biggest changes—and in San Francisco, where the options for helping the greater good can seem overwhelming, starting with small daily tasks is the best place to start. As more wealth pours into the city and the economic divide grows wider than ever before, it’s important to help out your fellow San Franciscan, zip code and tax bracket be damned.

For San Franciscans looking to make their hometown a better place, we present these small, but substantial, ways that you can help make a difference.

From your home

1. Stay informed about local news. It’s hard not to be aware of national news these days, but to get a sense of what’s changing in your immediate surroundings, soak in some local news by making local papers and blogs a part of your daily media diet. The San Francisco Chronicle is, of course, important, but other SF outlets can help you stay informed—from hyperlocal blogs (Richmond SF Blog, Mission Local, etc.) to established sources (Hoodline, San Francisco Magazine, etc.) and even more. Oh, and don’t forget Curbed SF.

2. Compost. Don’t believe the malodorous lies! Composting is easy and a great way of helping the environment from your kitchen. If your building or home does not yet have a green composting bin, the city will send you one free of charge.

3. Follow these pro-housing advocates and journalists on Twitter: Kim-Mai Cutler, Liam Dillon, Victoria Fierce, SF YIMBY, Laura Foote Clark, and YIMBY Action will keep you abreast of both anti-growth hypocrisy and action items that will help abate the California housing crisis.

4. Remember reusable bags. They’re easy to compile, but difficult to remember once you’re at Whole Foods. The cost of plastic and paper bags, both environmental and economical, are too much to bear. Stick a few reusable bags by your front door so you remember to bring them to your next shopping trip.

5. Donate, don’t discard, your old clothes. For those of you who simply cannot bear the thought of wearing last year’s jeans (perish the thought!) or want to whittle down your wardrobe to a minimalist offering, don’t trash your old clothes. Shelters like the St. Anthony Foundation can redistribute clean clothing to homeless San Franciscans. If you have professional women’s attire to toss, consider give them to Dress for Success. And Larkin Street Youth accepts gently worn clothing for at-risk, runaway youths.

In your neighborhood

6. Learn about your neighborhood’s history. Did you know the Castro used to be an Irish-American working-class neighborhood? Or that South of Market used the be called South of the Slot, which later became a novella by Nobel Prize-winning scribe Jack London? And who knew that Presidio Terrace was originally designed as a whites-only neighborhood? Take a deep dive into your neighborhood’s past, good and bad. After all, the city isn’t a blank slate.

7. Donate old books. Grab a handful (or trunkload) of books from your home library and add some inventory to the nearest Little Free Library. There are dozens in San Francisco and hundreds in the Bay Area. If you’d rather donate to the library, take your books to the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library. It’s a tax write-off!

8. Take care of a neighbor’s pet at PAWS. For some people, especially those who are chronically ill, frail, and isolated by disease or age, animal companionship is crucial to their health and well-being. Volunteer with PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support) to get paired one-on-one with members of the community (who may be LGBT seniors or people living with HIV, Hepatitis C, or cancer) who need help caring for their pet. Ideal for animal lovers with no-pet rental agreements!

9. Attend neighborhood meetings. The best way to find out about what’s up in your neighborhood is to attend public meetings organized each month by your local community association. Here’s a good place to start.

10. Wave to tourists when they pass you on cable cars or tour buses. They freakin’ love that.

Along your route

11. Take public transit. It’s the best way to get to know your city. Learn Muni and BART routes along your most-traveled roads and hop on. And you’d be surprised how convenient the cable cars and F lines are.

12. Put foot to pedal. San Francisco is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. Here’s a beginner’s guide to help you get started.

13. Be kind to the homeless. It’s going to take great leaps and bounds from the city to solve its chronic homeless problem. In the meantime, there are small things that you can do to empower those who need help. For starters, remember that people become homeless for a number of reasons—so leave the stereotyping or judgmental attitudes behind.

14. Document your city. One of the best ways to get to know the city is to shooting photos. Better yet, post them on Instagram. You will discover thousands of photographers also share your love of the city’s many neighborhoods. It’s a great way of take a closer look at your hood and getting to know your neighbors. Just don’t forget to geotag.

15. Be a conscientious pedestrian. From moving over to the right when using your phone to helping fellow pedestrians with strollers, there are a lot of ways to improve your two-foot mode of transportation around town. Because it’s 2018 and there’s no excuse for blocking a sidewalk. Here’s a pedestrian etiquette guide to help sharpen your two-step game.

In your community

16. Say hello to people/ask people how they’re doing. San Francisco can feel like a big small town, and its residents know it. If you’re walking around a neighborhood, or stopping into a local store, say, “Hello.” Stop being rude to service industry workers. Do not order with your phone attached to your ear. It’s dehumanizing. Be friendly.

17. Be a poll worker on election day. Looking for a way to up your voting game? Become a poll worker. It takes roughly 3,000 workers on election day to bets all the ballots processed. And with this upcoming June election being a crucial one, the city could use your help. (Psst, you will also get a $195 stipend.)

18. Fight hunger in the community. The uptick in foodie trends and prices have made nourishment seem like a privilege for the lucky and well-to-do. Not so. People are still starving in the city. Get involved with groups like San Francisco Food Bank, GLIDE Church, and Project Open Hand to make sure everyone in the community has food on the table.

19. Volunteer with the San Francisco Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs. The department’s Pathways to Citizenship Initiative program always needs volunteers, interpreters, and legal professionals to assist with their bi-monthly naturalization workshops.

20. Get off Nextdoor. Beginning with good intentions, Nextdoor has turned into a cesspool of racism and bigotry for a lot of San Francisco residents.

With a group

21. Hook up with the Friends of the Urban Forest. See how you can help add foliage to San Francisco’s streets with this choice nonprofit. They organize everything from neighborhood tree plantings to sidewalk landscaping.

22. Dedicate your time to volunteering at one of the two Friends of the San Francisco Public Library bookstores. All proceeds benefit the public library system in San Francisco.

23. Host a letter-writing party. Written letters get more traction than email or @’ing your local lawmaker. If there’s an issue you feel strongly about, it’s more than likely you’re not the only one, and a letter-writing party is a great way to organize your community for a positive cause. Best of all, you can add a few bottles of wine and turn it into a real party.

24. Volunteer at Animal Care and Control. ACC receives roughly 10,000 animals every year and rely on volunteers to help out. These pets don’t get the luxe treatment found at nearly SF SPCA, so they could use all the love they deserve.

25. Show up. When people come together—especially in times of great need—they can do amazing things. This was especially true during the AIDS crisis and of the moments following the Loma Prieta earthquake. Go to protests. Attend rallies. Fight for others’ rights. Relish the fact that you live in a city that, in one way or another, however dim it seems at times, seeks for the betterment of all humans."
classideas  sanfrancisco  civics  community  activism  engagement  pedestrians  2018  etiquette  publictransit  transportation  bikes  biking  nextdoor  volunteering  animals  pets  nature  trees  protests  friendliness  elections  neighborhoods  environment  composting  recycling 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Fantastically Strange Origin of Most Coal on Earth – Phenomena: Curiously Krulwich
"This is a story about trees—very, very strange looking trees—and some microbes that failed to show up on time. Their non-appearance happened more than 300 million years ago, and what they didn’t do, or rather what happened because they weren’t there, shapes your life and mine.

All you have to do is walk the streets of Beijing or New Delhi or Mexico City: If there’s a smog-laden sky (and there usually is), all that dust blotting out the sun is there because of this story I’m going to tell.

It begins, appropriately enough, in an ancient forest …"

[See also:
"How Fungi Saved the World"
http://feedthedatamonster.com/home/2014/7/11/how-fungi-saved-the-world

"This was the one and only time in the last 300 million years that the wood-rotting ability evolved. All the fungi today that can digest wood (and a few that can't) are the descendants of that enterprising fungus. Its strategy may have been inelegant, but wood decay played a crucial role in reversing the loss of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and bringing about the end of the Carboniferous period.

What would have happened if white rot fungi had never evolved? We can only speculate, but it's possible the world of today would look a lot like the world at the end of the Carboniferous period – cooler, high in oxygen, and with a denser atmosphere. Dragonflies with foot-and-a-half wingspans might still roam the forests, but the plant life might still be primeval, stifled by the lower carbon dioxide concentrations. Many a homeowner may disagree, but we're lucky wood-rotting fungi evolved. "]

[via:
http://interconnected.org/home/2018/01/02/filtered

"For 40 million years, trees were not biodegradable.
430 million years before present, the first vascular plants emerged from early tide pools. In order to stay upright, these plants employed cellulose, a chain of simple sugars ... it was easy to make and offered rigid yet flexible support

This is from How Fungi Saved the World.

90 million years later, heralding the Carboniferous period,
plants developed a new kind of support material, called lignin. Lignin was an improvement development over cellulose in several ways: it was harder, more rigid, and, being more complex, almost impossible to digest, which made it ideal for protecting cellulose. With lignin, plants could make wood, and it lead to the first treelike growth form.

But lignin made the lycopod trees a little too successful. Because their leaves were lofted above many herbivores and their trunks were made inedible by lignin, lycopods were virtually impervious to harm.

Dead trees piled up without decomposing. Compacted by weight, they turned to peat and then to coal. 90% of all today's coal is from this period.

Wood pollution lasted 40 million years.
Finally, however, a fungus belonging to the class Agaricomycetes - making it a distant cousin of button mushrooms - did find a crude way to break down lignin. Rather than devise an enzyme to unstitch the lignin molecule, however, it was forced to adapt a more direct strategy. Using a class of enyzmes called peroxidases, the fungus bombarded the wood with highly reactive oxygen molecules, in much the same way one might untie a knot using a flamethrower. This strategy reduced the wood to a carbohydrate-rich slurry from which the fungus could slurp up the edible cellulose.

Which leads me to think:

There's a ton of plastic in the ocean. Why not engineer a fungus to rot it? Having this magical material that lasts forever is absurd. This is a controversial idea I admit. But although I agree that we need to reduce plastic pollution (via social change and by regulatory intervention), cybernetics tells me that's a fragile solution. Homeostasis is to be found in a ecosystem of checks and balances: instead of eternal plastic, we need plastic plus a plastic-rotting fungus plus an effective-but-hard-to-apply fungicide. Then balance can be found."
2016  coal  plants  trees  fungi  science  evolution  classideas  naturalhistory  decomposition  srg  plastic 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Mount Sutro - FoundSF
"Mount Sutro, a hill in San Francisco, is difficult to characterize. At 908 feet, it’s a very tall hill that comes close to being a small mountain. (Another 92 feet, and it would have that distinction.) Many hundreds of years ago it might have started life as a hybridized sand dune/chert rock outcropping: it sits to the south of the Great Sand Bank of the outer lands of the city where offshore gusts threw sand from west to east with impunity one hundred years ago. It has a lot of trees growing on it, so many that it’s called a forest, although properly speaking it’s more like a tree plantation. Most of the trees are from one species, Eucalyptus globulus, the Tasmanian blue gum eucalyptus. When Mount Sutro is viewed from a distance, it looks almost cartoonishly rounded, a great tree-laden lump rising in the center of the city. The ravines and slopes of Mount Sutro are filled with blue gum eucalyptus, Himalayan blackberry and English ivy. They are all non-native.

Craig Dawson, the executive director of Sutro Stewards, a habitat restoration organization, likes eucalyptus trees and prefers the native blackberry over its invasive cousin. “Native blackberries are sweeter,” he says. “Himalayan blackberries are really tart.” He is openly dismayed by the English ivy, Hedera helix, the villainous plant of the understory which prevents native plants from growing well or at all and kills eucalyptus trees. “The birds eat the berries,” he says, “and the seeds gets distributed everywhere. You can’t fight all this,” he says, gesturing at the glossy leaves of the ivy."



"The North Ridge Trail is steep. I huffed and puffed after Craig, while he continued to name plants as he went. We stopped before a tall tree. “Toyon,” said Craig. We looked at it in silence. Here was a tree, solid and growing confidently in its old home. Maybe it had always been here— a historic remnant of a once larger community. Or maybe the seed it sprang from had been scarified in the acidic confines of a bird’s digestive tract and shat out to land— miraculously— in the one place it could sprout. We didn’t plant hardly any of this, Craig had said. Overhead the ravens croaked and chattered. Craig looked up in amusement. “When the ivy is in fruit, you can’t hear yourself talk. They’re very loud,” he said. Seed bearers to blackberry and toyon alike, they proved one thing: Invasion depends on movement. All things that creepeth and crappeth add more weight to Mount Sutro’s unbalanced ecological system, top-heavy with homogeneity. The current ecological system in the reserve depends on movement in the sky and on the trail below: hikers, bikers and birds all help propagate the eucalyptus, ivy and blackberry. We walked out of the murky confines of the reserve and into the summit. I saw the first direct sunlight I’d seen since meeting Craig in the Parking lot.

Rotary Meadow sits on about two inches of topsoil. The dirt was removed during the construction of a Nike radar base in the 1950’s. In an email sent to me later, Craig elaborated: “Rotary Meadow is planted in a debris field of unconsolidated rubble atop solid chert. On the top there is a bare minimum of a couple of inches of gravel, rock chips, and 50 years of composting resulting from the broom, blackberry and weeds that called it home.” The summit plant community, fragrant with mugwort and artemisia, is scraping by. It’s the only place in the reserve that supports a coastal scrub community. It does so on just under two acres of land.

Two bush lupines sat alongside a San Francisco gum plant. The lupines, small and fragile looking, are the only source of food on Mount Sutro for the tiny and endangered Mission Blue butterfly. “They’re no bigger than your fingernail,” said Craig, extending his for comparison. The lupine is also the butterfly’s nursery. The butterfly sips nectar from the lupine and lays its eggs on the underside of the leaves. The eggs hatch in six to ten days and continue feeding and living on the plant as caterpillars. The caterpillars are protected from insect predators (mostly wasps), by ants. Lupines, butterflies, ants: this elegant triad illustrates the basic schematic of ecology: a relationship between locale, plant and animal that is historically congruent and interdependent. It’s simple and very easy to disrupt. On Mount Sutro, the relationship is struggling. Two elements are missing: the butterfly and the ant.

Prenolepsis imparis, the ant, is missing. The ant/nursemaid to the Mission Blue caterpillar feeds on honeydew, a substance secreted by the caterpillar. The ants defend this food source from other predators like wasps. But a 2008 study performed jointly by biologists from San Francisco State University and the California Academy of Science described a startling finding: the absence of any native ants— any ants at all— in the interior greenbelt of Mount Sutro, downhill of the summit. The ant, it was surmised, was missing so completely because of the absence of habitat. Like elk clover, ants need the sun. And like mice, ants also need bare patches of land to travel. The study concludes that dense understory plants and too much moisture discouraged the ants from making it to the summit, effectively removing one crucial element from the three-part production that results in a population of healthy lupines and adult Mission Blue butterflies. The understory rolling and tumbling in the depths below affects the summit ecology dramatically: People literally can’t see the ants because of the trees.

A look of consternation flitted across Craig’s face. “Look at that,” he said. I looked. Purple star thistle had sprouted in a recently cleared patch to our right. “Workmen brought that up here,” he said. He said nothing more: he didn’t need to. Purple star thistle is a “major problem” according to the California Invasive Plant Council plant; the sort of plant that people who manage urban forests and regional parks cite as an example of why herbicides must be used."



"For the general public, living on the margins of (or downstream from) urban forests, the use of glysophate and triclopyr seems not to be accepted at all. Tired of high-handed interventions into the earth’s ecological systems, they’re perhaps protesting not only an intentionally toxic process, but also the seemingly endless interference, or management, of meddlesome humans. When will the earth be left to itself? Craig looked at the star thistle disgustedly. We walked on.

We entered the south ridge, project area number one. The south ridge has been thinned not once but twice; first in the 1930’s when the Works Progress Administration employed local men to log the eucalyptus grove, (there was a mill on Seventh Avenue and Clarendon) and again in 1954 to make room for a new Nike Missile radar base. “These trees are 58 years old,” said Craig and they look it: epicormic shoots sprout weirdly from the sides of the trees, evidence of logging, military installations and the most common method of thinning, fire. There have been seven fires in the reserve since the late 1800’s. The largest, in 1899, burned 60 acres, practically the entirety of the reserve. Another fire in 1935 burned ten acres and took 400 firemen to extinguish. Mount Sutro, with its wet western perimeter and persistent fog, is not exempt from California’s fire ecology. In California, everything can burn."



"In the battle to understand and manage the future, one fire regime tends to gets pitted against another. Chaparral is dangerous, say the critics of the UCSF forest management plan. Grasslands are dry. Coastal scrub doesn’t harvest fog or moisten the soil as efficiently as eucalyptus trees do. Eucalyptus trees explode, counter indignant Californians weary of hearing their native plant communities maligned. They increase the fuel loads to dangerous levels. They hog water. They perpetuate a mistaken vision of beauty for California: one that lionizes imported trees, while the glory of California’s coastal scrub and chaparral gets denigrated as dangerously “dry” brush with little or no regard for the astonishing amount of biodiversity it promotes. But the words of Andy Hubbs resolve this argument: “Everything burns,” he said. Eucalypts, native chaparral, southern coastal scrub communities, and the type of maritime coastal scrub/chaparral plant community that once grew on the hills in San Francisco- all of it.

In California, everything burns.

As Craig and I walked through the south ridge, the change in ambient moisture was abrupt. Minutes before the air had been fairly dry. Now dripping water fell everywhere. We were in the fabled “cloud forest” of Mount Sutro, standing in fog so thick that there was nothing to be seen but tree after tree, shrouded in whitish-grey mist. “You should be able to see the Marin Headlands from here,” said Craig. I felt like a ghost standing there. There’s an odd lack of “place” on Mount Sutro, a landmark isolated from its cousin landmarks, the Marin Headlands, the sea, and the southern reaches of the San Miguel Hills. There is no context to widen the understanding of what you’re standing on, no chance to compare the hill with other hills, bluffs and beaches. There is no way to appreciate the contiguity of the coastal ridge that runs from Point Reyes down the peninsula. One is forced to consider only the spindly trees and the shrouding fog. We walked back to the parking lot. Craig pointed to a eucalyptus tree. “See that? That’s what a healthy euc looks like,” he said. I looked at it and saw what I’d been looking at my whole life, in paintings or in windbreaks that edge the 101 freeway: a magnificent tree with a truck the color of pale ivory and a crown of dark green leaves radiating horizontally from the branches. It was the very picture of edenic California, lovely, healthy and serene.

We love what we know. Perhaps California’s native plant landscape is not … [more]
mountsutro  sanfrancisco  history  classideas  blackberries  plants  trees  eucalyptus  elizabethcreely  trails  forestknolls  midtownterrace  clarendonheights  innersunset  nature  ivy  ravens  ecology  craigdawson 
december 2017 by robertogreco
West coast is something nobody with sense would understand. : Open Space
""West coast is something nobody with sense would understand."

That’s a line from Jack Spicer’s “Ten Poems for Downbeat,” written in 1965, just before the Los Angeles-born poet died, age forty, in San Francisco. Was it true then, is it true now? What are some ways to make sense of this place (which isn’t one place), in this time (when it seems like there’s so little time)? Speculative, subversive, meditative: here are a few attempts."
westcoast  sanfrancisco  losangeles  jackspicer  1965  2017  place  speculative  subversion  speculation  meditation  pendarvisharsha  art  guadaluperosales  elisabethnicula  sophiawang  jennyodell  suzannestein  sandiego  cedarsigo  leorafridman  trees  fog  annahalprin  dance  eastla 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Street Tree List | DataSF | City and County of San Francisco
"List of dpw maintained street trees including: Planting date, species, and location"
trees  sanfrancisco  classideas  data  database 
november 2017 by robertogreco
kimberly rose drew on Twitter: "Tadao Ando wall text at the National Art Center was some of the most beautiful text I've ever encountered in a museum. https://t.co/xopnThMZeo"
"Tadao Ando wall text at the National Art Center was some of the most beautiful text I've ever encountered in a museum."

[image:

"Buildings and plants are similar in the sense that they will wither if neglected. They will not grow unless they are attentively watered or maintained and carefully looked after. Architecture is thus an endeavor not only for those who create it but also for all the people who use and nurture it.

A project to create a building and a project to create a forest have the same meaning to me as they both involve engaging with a site and imbuing it with new value. The tree-planting programs that I have led over the years, such as the Hyogo Green Network, Setouchi Olive Fund, Heisei-Era Alley of Cherry Blossoms Campaign, and Umi-no-Mori (Sea Forest), have all been projects to nurture forests through planting trees one at a time using funds donated by the general public. In other words, they have been initiatives premised on community participation. For me, this is the most important thing about these projects.

There is only so much that we can do to solve the problems of the environment as creators of buildings. In the end, it all comes down to the awareness and sensitivity of each and every person living within it. Imagine if everyone saw their everyday surroundings as their own problem and took action in whatever small way they could. There could be no endeavor more creative or richer with possibilities than this. I believe that such visions that people to think freely beyond preconceptions and existing frameworks will be crucial for our future."
tadoando  kimberlyrosedrew  architecture  environment  2017  forests  trees  everyday  responsibility  wareness  surroundings  treeplanting  multispecies  plants  maintenance  growth  care  caring 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Children Of The Anthropocene | Future Unfolding | Heterotopias
"Look beneath your feet and you will see the Anthropocene. It is made of the deep concrete that paves our cities, the abundant plastics that constitute our waste and the metal pipes that funnel our water and oil. Look up and the chances are you will see it, too. Vapour trails linger in the air after an aeroplane has shot through a clear, blue sky, their chemical residue spraying delicately over the earth below.

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life”
In 2000, the Nobel-prize winning atmospheric chemist, Paul Crutzen, and biologist, Eugene F. Stoermer, advanced a theory suggesting we are no longer living in the geological epoch known as the Holocene. Following the Paleolithic Ice Age, the Holocene provided us with stable, mild climates for approximately 12,000 years. Weather patterns were relatively predictable while land, animals, plant and tree life carved out a flourishing existence amidst its warm, pleasant temperatures. Citing the measurable effect greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane were exacting on the atmosphere, Crutzen proposed the Anthropocene, “the age of man”, the delineation of a time defined by human action on the environment. While the term has not yet gained official designation, there are increasing efforts to scientifically prove its existence. Global warming, plastic pollution, nuclear waste and many other human-driven phenomenon leave an unmistakable trace in geological records, the data of which is being used to evidence the Anthropocene.

Despite the bleak hubris and narcissism underpinning the term, these scientific efforts are facilitating a broader dawning ecological awareness. Eschewing the apocalyptic fatalism of its many contemporaries, Future Unfolding asks not what the world looks like after the deluge but before it. The game pulls off the temporal trick of transporting both player and setting back in time, adopting an almost childlike gaze of its seemingly edenic world. Inspired by designers Mattias Ljungström and Marek Plichta’s own experiences growing up in the Swedish and Polish countryside, dense forests of coniferous trees grow unchecked and its woodland floor is often carpeted with delicate red and yellow flowers. With such a shift in perspective—a reversion back to an earlier self—Future Unfolding asks us to assume a state of naivety and rediscover a sense of openness. With it, we might relearn our relationship with nature, unpick our assumptions and dissolve the hubris of our Anthropocene.

Things don’t function as you might expect in Future Unfolding. A tree is often a tree but at other times it is a portal, capable of transcending time and space. Sometimes these portals appear in its fauna like the idly grazing sheep who possess the ability to teleport. Elsewhere, amidst the ferns and luminescent lichen, pines appear to make patterns, simple shapes that when strung together, produce an entity capable of dissolving obstacles such as the impassable boulders strewn across the land. I remember playing in the ancient woodlands of Snowdonia as a child, forging many of the same connections and exploring the same potential of the environment that Future Unfolding depicts. That landscape hummed with the vibrancy of life, from the insects that consumed the pungent, rotting leaves on the ground to the thick, green moss that covered each rock. It offered me a window into another world that, as a child, echoed in my consciousness."



"For a crisis as enveloping as the Anthropocene, there is a value in this type of universalism. Specific problems abound that require specific solutions, of course, but Future Unfolding, along with other video games, literature, art and music are beginning to craft a new vernacular capable of conveying this shift in expression. Bjork’s work has long since channelled some sort of symbiosis with nature. Speaking about utopia in a recent interview with Dazed, she said: “There’s this old argument that civilisation treats nature the same as man treats women—you have to oppress it and dominate in order to progress. I just don’t agree with that. There is another way.” Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith crafts what might be considered the sonic equivalent to Future Unfolding’s pristine wilderness, her dense latticework synths sparkling with the same primordial urgency as the game. Track titles like “Existence in the Unfurling” speak to a similar biological enmeshing that Future Unfolding works towards. Ed Key and David Kanaga’s Proteus explores similar terrain, that game’s fizzing soundtrack determined by your place in the environment. Trees, hillocks and beaches all carry specific sounds, the effect of which jostles you into paying closer attention to its procedurally generated landscape."



"Throughout both Future Unfolding and the Southern Reach Trilogy, the gap between “us” and “them”—between humans and other life—is broken down. Sleeping mammals with long, white hair populate the game’s glowing landscape, each one keen to dispense knowledge. “Things near are not less beautiful and wondrous than things remote,” one said to me. “The near explains the far. The drop is a small ocean.” Their words emphasise wholeness and co-existence at times while also asking the player to unknow. “Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything,” said another. “Not till we are lost. In other words, not till we have lost the world do we begin to find ourselves.” This might sound like the garbling of a new-age hippie but these messages signal to a wider picture while the moments of discovery and interaction enable us to peek at the minutiae of blooming flowers and bobbling rocks.

Adopting this shift in perspective allows us to understand the scope of the Anthropocene as well as a way out of it. In his 2016 book, Dark Ecology, the philosopher Timothy Morton, wrote that “ecological awareness forces us to think and feel at multiple scales, scales that disorient normative concepts such as ‘present’, ‘life’, ‘human’, ‘nature’, ‘thing’, ‘thought,’ and ‘logic.’” But in traversing and reconciling these eerie phenomena we might reach a state of intimacy with nonhumans. “Coexisting with these nonhumans is ecological thought, art, ethics and politics.” For Morton, such a coexistence doesn’t entail a deferral to primitivism but an embracing of technologies amidst a transforming viewpoint. Play is crucial to the process and Future Unfolding gives us a space where we might test out these ideas for size to see how they fit, feel and taste.

Future Unfolding’s childlike gaze gently encourages a flexibility of thinking within us. It asks us to forget old cognitive pathways and instead forge new routes of thought. It is sometimes a sticky, unsettling process and, eschewing formal instructions or direction, the game reflects our current state of unknowing. We are prone to flailing in the murky darkness of the forest. But as we reformulate our relationship with nonhumans, Future Unfolding asks us to push through the uncomfortable anxiety of dawning ecological intimacy. Only then might we reach the ecstasy the Biologist experiences in Area X. We are prone to flailing in the murky darkness of the forest. But as we reformulate our relationship with nonhumans, Future Unfolding asks us to push through the uncomfortable anxiety of dawning ecological intimacy. Only then might we reach the ecstasy the Biologist experiences in Area X."
anthropocene  2017  lewisgordon  games  gaming  videogames  timothymorton  paulcrutzen  eugenestroermer  systems  systemsthinking  edkey  davidkanaga  proteus  kaitlynaureliasmith  futureunfolding  johnmuir  nature  mattiasljungström  marekplichta  globalarming  climatechange  via:anne  trees  lanscape  toplay  universalism  jeffvandermeer  southernreachtrilogy  biology  morethanhuman  multispecies  darkeccology  ecology  björk 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Cap and Trade – The New Inquiry
"Q: Is that why the book is largely set in a forest? So much of the writing about capitalism is located in factories, fields, or counting houses. What can forests help us understand about capitalism?

A: Not all forests are just groups of trees. Much of the book takes place in the industrial forests of the Pacific Northwest. It was a center of industrial timber in the mid-20th century and is still considered an industrial forest today. Managed forests have become an important model for the industrial plantation. The sugar cane plantation of the New World was the early model for industrialization. Now when you look up the word plantation, tree plantations come up first. For me, writing about forests is a way of getting at industrial discipline.

Of course, the original New World colonial plantation haunts capitalism to this day. It is on the slave plantation that Europeans learn to create assets through the joint disciplining of people and crops. They also invented techniques to shield investors from the environmental and social consequences of the investments that they were making, often over long distances. The mid-20th century managed forest in the U.S. was a model for the intensive crop production of a forest. Weeds were removed through spraying, and the technical monocrop features of the forest were really exaggerated, even in national forests.

Q: In your essay “Gens” you make this statement of purpose along with your co-authors: “Instead of capitalism a priori, as an already determining structure, logic, and trajectory, we ask how its social relations are generated out of divergent life projects.” How did you come to this way of thinking about capitalism?

A: I came to it in part through feminist political economy. In the late 20th century, feminist political economy started asking questions about labor that weren’t getting asked, like why there were women factory workers and why certain industries preferentially hired women, or even certain kinds of women. In order to explain that, one simply couldn’t ignore complicated historical trajectories—colonialism, racism, and the way the state interacted with the family—and the way these histories intertwined to create a particular moment in capitalism. Those basic opening questions turned into fertile theoretical ground for feminist scholarship. Rather than starting from a monolithic structure of capitalism and asking about its effects, feminist scholarship asked how a set of histories congealed together to create a particular kind of economic moment.

Q: Matsutake mushrooms are very small. The mushroom trade is very small. But you convincingly argue that small does not mean unimportant. Scale is an important theme in the book. What can mushrooms help us understand about capitalism and scale?

A: We are seduced by our computers today. Computers have such an easy time making something bigger or smaller on a screen without appearing to distort its characteristics at all. It makes us think that this is how reality works. When reality does actually function this way, it is a whole lot of work to make it scale up and scale down. And it never works perfectly. The plantation chases that ideal. Its goal is to scale up or scale down without changing the manner of production at all. But doing that is an enormous amount of work, and the work is often violent.

Mushrooms turn out to be a good way to think about contradictory and interrupting scales, both in terms of political economy and ecology. In the supply chain, there’s not the same emphasis on maintaining production standards across scale. Instead, there are techniques for translating mushrooms produced in different local realities and scales into a single, uniform commodity. And these techniques never succeed completely. Ecologically, if you don’t have certain small disturbances between particular organisms, you wouldn’t have the effect of the forest at all."

Q: The book flips the geography of the supply chain we are most used to hearing about. The flexible labor is in rural America, and the buyers are overseas, in Japan. Is this a new historical period, economically speaking? How do you situate this in the context of the broader 20th century global economy?

A: I argue that there was a moment in the late 20th century when a particular model of Japanese supply chain became so powerful, it kicked over a big change in the way supply chains worked globally. Production was no longer the organizing force, which had been the case in the U.S. corporate supply chain, the predominant form before that. These changes disentangled the relationships between nation-states and powerful sourcing corporations. This disentanglement allows the rural northwestern U.S.to resemble the global south in certain ways as a sourcing area for global supply chains. But the matsutake supply chain is an unusual case. If you want to find U.S. companies sourcing from other parts of the world, that’s still the dominant form of supply chain.

Q: The book seems hopeful.

A: I’ve been accused both ways.

Q: Well, it has “End of the World” in the main title, and “the Possibilities of Life” in the subtitle.

A: That’s true. We don’t have a choice except to muddle by. So that’s the hopeful part. We have to figure out what we’ve got and what we can do with it. To me, this is practical hopefulness. It is a hard line to pull off. The subtitle is not actually about hope in a traditional Christian sense of redemption. At this particular historical moment, I don’t think that makes much sense. There are plenty of people who want to use a set of philosophies or technologies to get us out of the soup. That’s tough. On the other hand, there’s just getting stuck in a big bundle of apocalyptic thinking.

The book asks us to pay attention to the imperfect situation in which we live, to recognize both the handholds and the pitfalls. Perhaps looking at this particular mushroom lends hopefulness. I’ve since realized I don’t have to go that direction. Lately I’ve been giving papers on killer fungi, the kind of fungi that grow unintentionally out of the plantation system. These fungi and other pests and diseases represent the plantation system gone wild in ways that negatively affect humans, plants, or animals. Fungus can be terrible too."
scale  scalability  capitalism  sustainability  annalowenhaupttsing  anthropology  anthropocene  2016  themushroomattheendoftheworld  growth  plantations  geography  supplychains  japan  us  forests  trees  mushrooms  nature  multispecies  labor  morethanhuman  annatsing 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing - A Feminist Approach to the Anthropocene: Earth Stalked by Man - YouTube
"To take seriously the concept of the Anthropocene—the idea that we have entered a new epoch defined by humans’ impact on Earth’s ecosystems—requires engagement with global history. Using feminist anthropology, this lecture explores the awkward relations between what one might call “machines of replication”—those simplified ecologies, such as plantations, in which life worlds are remade as future assets—and the vernacular histories in which such machines erupt in all their particularity and go feral in counter-intentional forms. This lecture does not begin with the unified continuity of Man (versus indigenous ontologies; as scientific protocol; etc.), but rather explores contingent eruptions and the patchy, fractured Anthropocene they foster.

Anna L. Tsing is a Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, and the acclaimed author of several books including Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection and In the Realm of the Diamond Queen.

This Helen Pond McIntyre '48 Lecture was recorded on November 10, 2015 at Barnard College."
annalowenhaupttsing  2015  anthropocene  multispecies  morethanhuman  ecology  disentanglement  feminism  naturalhistory  anthropology  ecologies  plantations  capitalism  humans  entanglement  interdependence  animals  plants  trees  birds  farming  fordlandia  rubber  environment  hope  science  humanism  agriculture  annatsing 
september 2017 by robertogreco
terra0
"terra0 is a selfowning augmented forest. The project is meant to be an ongoing art project that strives to set up a prototype of an self utilizated piece of land. A forest has an exactly computable productive force; the market value of the overall output of the forest can be precisely calculated. Beside its function as a source of raw material, the forest also holds the role of service contractor. The terra0 project creates a scenario whereby the forest, augmented through automated processes, utilitizes itself and thereby accumulates capital. A shift from valorization through third parties to a self-utilization makes it possible for the forest to procure its real exchange value, and eventually buy itself. The augmented forest is not only owner of itself, but is thus in the position to buy more ground and therfore to expand.

A Forest on the Blockchain

"On the Blockchain no one knows you're a forest"

A smart contract on the Ethereum Blockchain controls the in- and outputs of the forest. Every six months a programme fetches satellite pictures of the property from a supplier outside of the Blockchain. With the help of self-written image-analysis software, the programme can determine how much wood can be sold without overly-diminishing the tree population. The smart contract acts according to contractually invariable rules. A rudimentary function makes it possible for the system to buy additional properties and thus to expand."
forests  trees  ownership  multispecies  plants  terra0  land  blockchain  art  rural  ruricomp 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Jacarandas are LA’s future - Curbed LA
"For a few particularly grey weeks of spring, the lavender blossoms of jacaranda trees are everywhere you go, a parade of pastel fireworks exploding along Los Angeles’s streets. You not only see them, you hear them, too, as their rubbery petals render sidewalks squeaky and produce that satisfying snap under bike tires.

Yet after the flowers fade, after their annual brush with fame, the showy celebrities become unremarkable nobodies, their fern-like foliage fading back into the canopy, quietly providing shade and shelter.

I am not here to convince you of the jacaranda’s aesthetic merits nor of its place in Southern California culture—for fine coverage of both those topics, please read Julia Wick’s elegant jacaranda appraisal at LAist.

I am here to tell you that the jacaranda is the future.

The city has lost a shocking number of trees over the last decade, according to a group of USC professors from the Spatial Sciences Institute and Urban Wildlands Group who used aerial imagery to track the de-greening of LA. Their study, published in Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, showed an astonishing decrease in tree cover in certain neighborhoods, a correlation which paralleled with increased development on single-family lots.

McMansions in particular, with their widened driveways and lot line-to-lot line construction, are eliminating LA’s trees at an alarming rate, something we noted back in 2015.

Then there is the havoc that water scarcity has wrought upon LA—the city estimates we lost 14,000 trees just in parks due to the drought. And that doesn’t even count all the street trees that died because people who killed their lawns forgot that their trees still needed to be watered.

Now consider that LA’s urban forest was already seriously lacking compared to other cities. Despite several high-profile mass-planting efforts—a “Million Trees” campaign, which has worked well in other cities, hasn't delivered here yet—and the fact that anyone can get free trees from the city (did you know that?), our streets remain glaring and unsheltered.

The need for a true tree canopy for the city is becoming critical. Trees are now our best line of defense to protect the city from the reality of extreme heat and the public health risks of air pollution, and their presence alone can help promote pedestrian activity. The city is spending a billion dollars to repair its sidewalks—and yes, some of those sidewalks have been buckled due to trees—but we need at least a billion more dollars to properly replant the parkways and complete the walking and biking experience. To finally make LA a livable city.

For a better part of a century, we placed palm trees in our most prominent lands, the tree we now associate with LA the most. But from an urban forest perspective, the palm tree is easily the worst, which is why the city no longer plants them. Palms—which are, technically, not trees—don’t produce any shade. They don’t possess any air purifying qualities. And there’s a fungus that’s slowly destroying them. We need a new tree to symbolize the cooler, cleaner, shadier LA.

Enter the jacaranda: drought-tolerant, fast-growing, wildlife-friendly, shade-providing, sidewalk-protecting. There are many LA trees that check all those boxes: sycamores are nice; oaks are native, and planting locals should be our priority, of course. But there are few trees that do all those things—and also provide such stunning, exotic, instantly Instagrammable enchantment.

I’m not saying we need to Johnny Appleseed the city with Jacaranda mimosifolia seeds. Nor should we line entire streets with one species—that’s not great for biodiversity. But wouldn’t it be incredible to plant enough of them all over the city, in great enough densities, for people to make pilgrimages here just to see them—and at the same time, to stroll along our newly reimagined streets?

Think about the trees on your street—and not just the ones that bloom once per year. In 50 years, most of the palms that you see today will be dead. Yet the trees we plant today will be thriving. When we’re thinking about our city’s forested future, we need to think green—and we can also think purple."
losngeles  2017  alissawalker  jacarandas  trees 
may 2017 by robertogreco
SF Beautiful
"Our mission

Since 1947, San Francisco Beautiful, a non-profit 501c3 organization, has been instrumental in creating and delivering community-centered artistic public benefit and preserve neighborhood character. San Francisco Beautiful is a trusted partner to the city’s diverse neighborhood communities and the only organization in San Francisco that brings community based organizations together with regional government, philanthropic, and business sectors to improve and artistically beautify the public realm. We count on and efficiently leverage public, private, and philanthropic funds, volunteers and gratefully accept in-kind contributions that enable us to continue to keep San Francisco Beautiful.

Accomplishments
We are proud of our history and our impact. Some of our successes include:

• Saving San Francisco's cable car system.
• Launching the first citywide tree planting program.
• Capping the number of billboards in the city.
• Legalizing sidewalk seating.
• Creating developer and business tax set asides to fund public art & greening.
• Bringing art to our Muni buses."
sanfrancisco  green  art  classideas  sfsh  muni  trees  nonprofit  nonprofits 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Last Tree Standing - bioGraphic
"Since 2011, drought and pestilence have killed more than 100 million trees in California. What does that mean for the fate of the world’s largest tree, the giant sequoia?"
california  2016  drought  pestilence  forests  nature  trees  giantsequoias  sequoias  arborists 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Making of a Giant - bioGraphic
"Stretching hundreds of feet into the air presents some very real physical challenges. See how these massive trees have overcome gravity to become the giants of the forest."
trees  sequoias  giantsequoias  nature  plants  california  forests  2016  howthingswork 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Solution to Technology Overload Is So Incredibly Simple | Big Think
"University of Illinois researchers have found that getting outside with family members can help prevent family dysfunction. Previous research had been done on the benefits of walking unto itself, but combining the social element as well brings past studies into a new light.

To clarify, walking itself, even for just 20 minutes, can help you restore your attention. And attention helps you pick up social cues, not feel as irritable, and maintain more self-control than you otherwise would have. All of these factors can lead to functioning more in harmony with those around you.

Attention is a scarce resource in the age of the Internet and constant screen exposure. It’s hard for our brains to have the chance to sit back and have restorative time when there are so many tools, entertainment and advertising devices clamoring for our focus. Taking kids to the park helps parents feel like they can relax a little, they are “on-duty” in a different way. And the ritual itself of going outside with family can have benefits for family functioning.

The question of how to increase our attention spans is a big one, with implications far outside that of this study. It turns out that the human attention span these days has actually decreased to be shorter than that of a goldfish. Back in 2000 (before smartphones became a big thing), the average human attention span was 12 seconds. Now, it is only eight seconds, while the attention span of a goldfish is about nine seconds.

Activities such as “dual screening,” using a smartphone while watching TV is an example, are suspected of contributing to this mass attention deficit. But even for those who aren’t switching back and forth between devices, heavy usage of a smartphone can lead to episodes called “cognitive failures.” Cognitive failures can include forgetting appointments, frequent forgetfulness about what they were planning to do next, and having a hard time concentrating on a conversation.

Getting out for a walk might be even more beneficial for you if you walk in an area with some amount of trees. Even when viewing a street at just two percent tree density, participants in a study noted feeling more relaxed than they did when viewing a street without any trees. Seeing more trees led to further participants reporting stress reduction."
outdoors  trees  health  psychology  technology  2016  families  parenting  screentime  walking  attention  sfsh  social 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The Listen Tree Project | MIT – Docubase
"ListenTree is an audio-haptic display meant to be embedded in the natural environment. A visitor to the installation notices a faint sound appearing to emerge from a tree, and might feel a slight vibration under their feet as they approach. By resting their head against the tree, they are able to hear sounds through bone conduction. To create this effect, an audio exciter-transducer is weatherproofed and attached to the tree trunk underground, transforming the tree into a living speaker that channels audio through its branches. The apparatus, set up underground at the base of a tree, transforms the tree into a loudspeaker. The exhibit also uses Raspberry Pi to connect to WiFi, which enables one tree to communicate with other trees, other sound sources, or other transducers.

While the initial intent of the producers was to create an audio installation, they have also found other uses cases for ListenTree as a platform for other stories, given that any source of sound can be played through the tree, including pre-recorded or live tracks. For example, during an installation in Mexico City, ListenTree was used to play pre-recorded audio of poems by Mexican poets at a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) event. Glorianna Davenport, who oversees a project called The Living Observatory, which tracks the recovery of the wetlands at Tidmarsh Farms, has also used ListenTree as a platform to play audio recorded at Tidmarsh. This particular installation of the ListenTree can be found at the MIT Museum. “A very important benefit of [the interaction] is the juxtaposition of physically being here and connecting to a remote site,” remarks Davenport. The ListenTree can also be expanded to include multiple trees in a single installation, for which Davenport sees much potential: “It is important that the basic idea is later expanded.  If you look at the installation in Mexico,  it is clear that having many trees, and having the installation outdoors at events that had large audiences changes the dynamic.”

Storytellers and documentarians might conceive of other ways to sonify stories through ListenTree, which is able to play sounds collected remotely through a local, natural interface; combine the interaction between a story and its medium to aid in meaning construction; and reconcile the immateriality of digital media with a materiality of a physical exhibit."
listentree  haptics  trees  lilybui  edwinaportocarro  sound  audio  classideas  storytelling 
february 2016 by robertogreco
German Forest Ranger Finds That Trees Have Social Networks, Too - The New York Times
"Reading up on the behavior of trees — a topic he learned little about in forestry school — he found that, in nature, trees operate less like individuals and more as communal beings. Working together in networks and sharing resources, they increase their resistance.

By artificially spacing out trees, the plantation forests that make up most of Germany’s woods ensure that trees get more sunlight and grow faster. But, naturalists say, creating too much space between trees can disconnect them from their networks, stymieing some of their inborn resilience mechanisms.

Intrigued, Mr. Wohlleben began investigating alternate approaches to forestry. Visiting a handful of private forests in Switzerland and Germany, he was impressed. “They had really thick, old trees,” he said. “They treated their forest much more lovingly, and the wood they produced was more valuable. In one forest, they said, when they wanted to buy a car, they cut two trees. For us, at the time, two trees would buy you a pizza.”

Back in the Eifel in 2002, Mr. Wohlleben set aside a section of “burial woods,” where people could bury cremated loved ones under 200-year-old trees with a plaque bearing their names, bringing in revenue without harvesting any wood. The project was financially successful. But, Mr. Wohlleben said, his bosses were unhappy with his unorthodox activities. He wanted to go further — for example, replacing heavy logging machinery, which damages forest soil, with horses — but could not get permission.

After a decade of struggling with his higher-ups, he decided to quit. “I consulted with my family first,” said Mr. Wohlleben, who is married and has two children. Though it meant giving up the ironclad security of employment as a German civil servant, “I just thought, ‘I cannot do this the rest of my life.’”

The family planned to emigrate to Sweden. But it turned out that Mr. Wohlleben had won over the forest’s municipal owners.

So, 10 years ago, the municipality took a chance. It ended its contract with the state forestry administration, and hired Mr. Wohlleben directly. He brought in horses, eliminated insecticides and began experimenting with letting the woods grow wilder. Within two years, the forest went from loss to profit, in part by eliminating expensive machinery and chemicals.

Despite his successes, in 2009 Mr. Wohlleben started having panic attacks. “I kept thinking, ‘Ah! You only have 20 years, and you still have to accomplish this, and this, and that.’” He began therapy, to treat burnout and depression. It helped. “I learned to be happy about what I’ve done so far,” he said. “With a forest, you have to think in terms of 200 or 300 years. I learned to accept that I can’t do everything. Nobody can.”

He wanted to write “The Hidden Life of Trees” to show laypeople how great trees are.

Stopping to consider a tree that rose up straight then curved like a question mark, Mr. Wohlleben said, however, that it was the untrained perspective of visitors he took on forest tours years ago to which he owed much insight.

“For a forester, this tree is ugly, because it is crooked, which means you can’t get very much money for the wood,” he said. “It really surprised me, walking through the forest, when people called a tree like this one beautiful. They said, ‘My life hasn’t always run in a straight line, either.’ And I began to see things with new eyes.”"
trees  peterwohlleben  2016  nature  plants  networks  forests  germany  resistance  resources  interconnectedness  interdependence  naturalists  resilience  interconnected  interconnectivity 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Rings – BLDGBLOG
"In the forests of northern Ontario, a “strange phenomenon” of large natural rings occurs, where thousands of circles, as large as two kilometers in diameter, appear in the remote landscape.

“From the air, these mysterious light-coloured rings of stunted tree growth are clearly visible,” the CBC explained back in 2008, “but on the ground, you could walk right through them without noticing them.”
Since they were discovered on aerial photos about 50 years ago, the rings have baffled biologists, geologists and foresters… Astronomers suggest the rings might be the result of meteor strikes. Prospectors wonder whether the formations signal diamond-bearing kimberlites, a type of igneous rock.

While it’s easy to get carried away with visions of supernatural tree rings growing of their own accord in the boreal forests, this is actually one of the more awesome examples of where the likely scientific explanation is also significantly more interesting than something more explicitly other-worldly.

Indeed, as geochemist Stew Hamilton suggested in 1998, the rings are most likely to be surface features caused by “reduced chimneys,” or “big centres of negative charge that frequently occur over metal deposits,” where a forest ring is simply “a special case of a reduced chimney.”

Reduced chimneys, meanwhile, are “giant electrochemical cells” in the ground that, as seen through the example of forest rings, can affect the way vegetation grows there.

One of many things worth highlighting here is this suggestion that the trees are being influenced from below by ambient electrochemical processes in the soil, set into motion by the region’s deep geology:
Hamilton was testing an analytical technique over a Matheson gold deposit to determine if there was any kind of geochemical surface signal. To his surprise, there were signals coming through 30 to 40 metres of glacial clay.

“We’re thinking there’s no way metals can move through clay 10,000 years after glaciation.”
After ruling out transport by ground water, diffusion and gas, he theorized it had to have been lifted to surface on electrical fields.

He applied the same theory to forest rings and discovered that they were also giant negatively charged cells.

Any source of negative charge will create a forest ring.

In landscape architecture terms, a forest ring—which Hamilton describes [PDF] as “a plant assemblage that is different from the surrounding forest making the features visible from the air”—could be seen as a kind of indirect electrochemical garden taking on a recognizably geometrical form without human intervention.

In effect, their shape is expressed from below. For ambitious future landscape designers, note that this implies a potential use of plantlife as a means for revealing naturally occurring electrical networks in the ground, where soil batteries and other forms of terrestrial electronics could articulate themselves through botanical side-effects.

That is, plant a forest; come back after twenty years; discover vast rings of negative electrochemical charge like smoke rings pushing upward from inside the earth.

Or, of course, you could reverse this: design for future landscape-architectural effects by formatting the deep soil of a given site, thus catalyzing subterranean electrochemical activity that, years if not generations later, would begin to have aesthetic effects.

But it gets weirder: as Hamilton’s fieldwork also revealed, there is a measurable “bulge in the water table that occurs over the entire length of the forest ring with a profound dip on the ring’s outer edge.” For Hamilton, this effect was “beyond science fiction,” he remarked to the trade journal Northern Ontario Business, “it’s unbelievable.”

What this means, he adds, is that “the water is being held up against gravity” by naturally occurring electrical fields.

Subsequent and still-ongoing research by other geologists and geochemists has shown that forest rings are also marked by the elevated presence of methane (which explains the “stunted tree growth”), caused by natural gas leaking up from geological structures beneath the forest.

Hamilton himself wrote, in a short report for the Ontario Geological Survey [PDF], that forest ring formation “may be due to upward methane seepage along geological structures from deeper sources,” and that this “may indicate deeper sources of natural gas in the James Bay Lowlands.”

These forest rings might also be surface indicators of diamond pipes and coal deposits, meaning that, given access to an aerial view, you can “read” the earth’s biosphere as a living tissue of signs or symptoms through which deeper, non-biological phenomena (coal, diamonds, metals) are revealed.

Even better, these electrochemical effects stop on a macro-scale where the subsurface geology changes; as Hamilton points out [PDF], the “eastward disappearance of rings in Quebec occurs at the north-south Haricanna Moraine, which coincides with a sudden drop in the carbonate content of soils.”

If you recall that there were once naturally-occurring nuclear reactors burning away in the rocks below Gabon, then the implication here would be that large-scale geological formations, given the right slurry of carbonates, metals, and clays, can also form naturally-occurring super-batteries during particular phases of their existence.

To put this another way, through an accident of geology, what we refer to as “ground” in northern Ontario could actually be thought of a vast circuitboard of electrochemically active geological deposits, where an ambient negative charge in the soil has given rise to geometric shapes in the forest.

In any case, there is something pretty incredible about the idea that you could be hiking through the forests of northern Ontario without ever knowing you’re surrounded by huge, invisible, negatively charged megastructures exhibiting geometric effects on the plantlife all around you.

Several years ago, I wrote a post about the future of the “sacred grove” for the Canadian Centre for Architecture, based on a paper called “The sacred groves of ancient Greece” by art historian Patrick Bowe. I mention this because it’s interesting to consider the forest rings of northern Ontario in the larger interpretive context of Bowe’s paper, not because there is any historical or empirical connection between the two, of course; but, rather, for the speculative value of questioning whether these types of anomalous forest-effects could, under certain cultural circumstances, carry symbolic weight. If they could, that is, become “sacred groves.”

Indeed, it is quite thrilling and strange to imagine some future cult of electrical activity whose spaces of worship and gathering are remote boreal rings, circular phenomena in the far north where water moves against gravity and chemical reactions crackle outward through the soil, forcing forests to take symmetrical forms only visible from high above."
plants  nature  geoffmanaugh  2016  forests  canada  ontario  forestrings  plantlife  trees  watertable  geology 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Root force: unstoppable urban trees – in pictures | Cities | The Guardian
"Some urban trees won’t be hemmed in by walls, pavements or concrete, their roots slowly working their way into the very structure of the city"
trees  roots  2015  cities  urban  streets  pavement  concrete 
december 2015 by robertogreco
hillary fayle
"I use found botanical material such as leaves, seedpods, and branches to explore human connection to the physical world. By combining these organic objects with the rich traditions of needlecraft, I bind nature and the human touch. Both tender and ruthless, this intricate stitch work communicates the idea that our relationship with the natural world is both tenuously fragile and infinitely complex.

The way I think about and make art mirrors the way I think about my life and how I walk through the world. What I do is about elevating details. It is about noticing cycles and connections. It is about regarding a familiar object in a new way. It’s about seeing things and considering their connection to you, their potential futures and possible pasts. There is a depth and an importance to what is present, and what is absent. Invisible narratives are woven into and around each piece, each interaction. As I gather materials with which to work, I consider what connections might exist between us, or how each object might be related to another. I am a cartographer, drawing and plotting an imaginary map, from one object to the next, intervening with each. These objects naturally fit into categories, which relate to my own experiences, but also to their origins and how they came into my hands. The vertices of experience and the actual life trajectory of an object are what interest me the most; the points at which the object and I intersect.

I grew up in Western NY, and earned a BFA from Buffalo State College, and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University."

[See also: http://www.hillarywfayle.com/ ]
embroidery  sewing  leaves  plants  glvo  hillaryfayle  art  trees 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Someone Put Giant Megaphones in the Woods So You Can Listen to the Forest «TwistedSifter
"51% of Estonia is covered with forests and according to author Valdur Mikita, ‘Estonian culture is intertwined and imbued with forests’. In September, students from the Interior Architecture Department at the Estonian Academy of Arts installed three gigantic wooden megaphones that let you listen to naturally amplified sounds of the surrounding forest.

The student project was executed in collaboration with the Estonian Forest Management Centre and the multi-purpose megaphones also double as a sitting and resting area as well as a stage for small events.

Most of the installation was built in Tallinn at the end of August and then shipped to Võrumaa, Pähni Nature Centre—not far from Latvian border—where it has been installed and opened to the public as of September 18th.

The project was led by Birgit Õigus, with the rest of her coursemates Mariann Drell, Ardo Hiiuväin, Lennart Lind, Henri Kaarel Luht, Mariette Nõmm, Johanna Sepp, Kertti Soots and Sabine Suuster helping out with the building process.

You can find dropbox folders of the building process and transport/installation and visit the project page for more information."

[See also:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jpqt1lpc4mcueqn/AABmt1Pf1uYjpfb1ZL3N-TVAa?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/59doqwq0u6qngyx/AAAr7a1V2il_zW8REbVCPPwla?dl=0

and

"Unplugged Kingsize Megaphones Help Nature Explorers Hear the Forests"
http://www.artun.ee/en/unplugged-kingsize-megaphones-help-nature-explorers-to-listen-to-the-forests-2/
estonia  listening  forests  sounds  megaphones  audio  sound  trees 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Trees, a new partner in the fight against urban crime | USAPP
"Crime is a persistent problem in many urban areas, both large and small. In new research, Kate Gilstad-Hayden and Spencer R. Meyer examine the effects of tree cover on this crime. They find that for every 10 percent increase in tree canopy cover, there was a 15 percent decrease in the violent crime, and a 14 percent fall in the property crime rate. Trees, they write, can help to increase ‘eyes on the street’ through recreational use, reduce mental the fatigue which can lead to crime, and offer landscaping opportunities which act as a ‘cue to care’.

Crime remains a persistent challenge in many cities in the United States and worldwide. Solutions to this problem require a multi-faceted approach. Recent studies conducted in cities across the United States suggest that urban greening, including planting more trees and other vegetation, could be a relatively low-cost contributor to reducing crime.

Traditionally, law enforcement agencies thought vegetation contributed to crime, by obstructing surveillance and providing cover for criminals. However, recent studies using crime data from police reports and other sources have found the opposite may be true. A 2001 study of a public housing development in Chicago was the first to link vegetation with actual counts of crime from police reports. Greater vegetation surrounding apartment buildings, as measured via aerial and ground-level photographs, was associated with fewer reports of total, property and violent crimes, even after controlling for confounding factors (e.g., number of apartments per building, vacancy rate, building height). Recent studies in Baltimore, Maryland, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania have replicated the Chicago results using high-resolution aerial imagery to measure vegetation and more sophisticated statistics to account for spatial dependency since crime tends to cluster around nearby neighborhoods.

We set out to see if earlier research is generalizable to medium-sized cities by examining the association between vegetation and crime in New Haven, Connecticut, a city with a population of 130,000 people and a crime rate of 65 crimes per 1,000 people, or 2.7 times the state rate and 2.0 times the national rate. Known as the Elm City, New Haven is home to 32,000 street trees and parks covering 2,200 acres. Approximately 38 percent of all land is covered by tree canopy, slightly higher than the average tree canopy cover for US cities of similar size. Our study draws upon the advanced statistical and spatial methodologies used in Baltimore and Philadelphia and is the first to apply these techniques to crime reporting from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR). Our crime outcomes include property crimes (burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson) and violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery and assault) and provide a nationally replicable measure of crime that is consistent with criminology and economic literature on differential incentives and deterrents to property and violent crime.

Results from our analyses showed that for every 10 percent increase in tree canopy cover there was a 15 percent decrease in the violent crime rate and a 14 percent decrease the property crime rate. We controlled for socio-economic factors, including neighborhood-level educational attainment, median household income, racial/ethnic composition, population density, vacancies and renter-occupied housing, suggesting that our results are not confounded by higher socio-economic neighborhoods having more trees. Maps of tree canopy cover and crime (see Figure 1) clearly showed that neighborhoods with more tree canopy cover tended to have less violent, property and total crime. While we did not identify a causal relationship between trees and crime in our study area, prior research suggests that vegetation may offer crime-reducing benefits through three main mechanisms. First, green spaces attract people for recreation and other activities, leading to more “eyes on the street,” which provides actual surveillance. Second, trees offer attractive landscaping that acts as implied surveillance or a “cue to care” by demonstrating to potential criminal threats that residents pay attention to and care about their neighborhood. Third, trees and the presence of nature has been shown to reduce mental fatigue, a precursor to violent behavior.

Figure 1 – Quantile classified choropleth maps of crime outcomes and tree canopy cover by Census block group in New Haven, CT

[maps]

Notes: Darker shading indicates more crime or more tree canopy cover; Crime rates represent average number of crimes annually from 2008-2012 per 1,000 residents; Tree canopy cover is measured as the percent of ground that is covered by leaves and branches of trees when viewed from above.

Our study expands previous research on trees and crime in major cities to a medium-sized city known for its high crime rate. We found strong evidence that more trees are associated with lower rates of both violent and property crime. We can confidently add crime-fighting to the growing list of benefits associated with urban trees such as air pollution removal, cooler temperatures, and capture of rainfall thereby reducing storm water runoff. City residents often express far more concern about crime and quality of life issues rather than issues of environmental quality, suggesting that our new evidence can play an important role in swaying voters- as well as proponents of urban greening, law enforcement officials and city leaders to plant more trees to benefit both crime prevention and urban ecosystems.

Future studies should examine changes in tree canopy cover and crime over time and test for potential mediators, including social cohesion and park use, to help to clarify the relationship between trees and crime. In addition, looking at the relationship between the quality of trees (e.g. street trees versus park trees or tall trees versus shrubs) and crime could provide insight into the most effective ways to use urban greening to reduce crime. Such studies could bolster support for urban greening as a crime reducing strategy."
trees  crime  foliage  urban  urbanism  2015  kategilstad-hayden  spencermeyer  lawenforcement  surveillance  treecover  vegetation 
november 2015 by robertogreco
This Crazy Tree Grows 40 Kinds of Fruit - YouTube
"Sam Van Aken, an artist and professor at Syracuse University, uses "chip grafting" to create trees that each bear 40 different varieties of stone fruits, or fruits with pits. The grafting process involves slicing a bit of a branch with a bud from a tree of one of the varieties and inserting it into a slit in a branch on the "working tree," then wrapping the wound with tape until it heals and the bud starts to grow into a new branch. Over several years he adds slices of branches from other varieties to the working tree. In the spring the "Tree of 40 Fruit" has blossoms in many hues of pink and purple, and in the summer it begins to bear the fruits in sequence—Van Aken says it's both a work of art and a time line of the varieties' blossoming and fruiting. He's created more than a dozen of the trees that have been planted at sites such as museums around the U.S., which he sees as a way to spread diversity on a small scale."

[See also:

“‘Tree of 40 Fruit’, A Hyper Hybrid Tree That Grows Over 40 Varieties of Heirloom Stone Fruits”
http://laughingsquid.com/tree-of-40-fruit-a-hyper-hybrid-tree-that-grows-over-40-varieties-of-heirloom-stone-fruits/

http://www.samvanaken.com/?works=tree-of-40-fruit
http://www.treeof40fruit.com/

"The Tree of 40 Fruit is an ongoing series of hybridized fruit trees by contemporary artist Sam Van Aken. Each unique Tree of 40 Fruit grows over forty different types of stone fruit including peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries, and almonds. Sculpted through the process of grafting, the Tree of 40 Fruit blossom in variegated tones of pink, crimson and white in spring, and in summer bear a multitude of fruit. Primarily composed of native and antique varieties the Tree of 40 Fruit are a form of conversation, preserving heirloom stone fruit varieties that are not commercially produced or available." ]
fruits  trees  stonefruits  peaches  nectarines  plums  cherries  apricots  almonds  2015  art  samvanaken  plants  food  flowers  hybrids  grafting  orchards  fruit 
july 2015 by robertogreco
The man who grew a church from trees | Stuff.co.nz
"You'd think that with a passion for trees and an encyclopedic knowledge of them that Barry Cox would have enjoyed a long career in arboriculture.

Not so; before the age of 10 (too young to understand the criteria required for the top job at the Vatican), Barry wanted to be the Pope. Instead, he settled for the revered position of head altar boy in his home town of Shannon, in Horowhenua.

Barry thinks his appreciation for the architecture and pomp and ceremony of churches stems from his Italian ancestry. He fed this interest over many years touring New Zealand, Europe and America, often on a motorbike, studying the proportions, angles, heights and pitches of church roofs, walls and porticoes.

After planting more than 4000 trees on his 90ha dairy farm in the Waikato, Barry finally settled on a flat 1.2ha property near Cambridge. With a blank canvas, free-draining sandy loam and Mount Pirongia rising majestically in the distance, the climate, location and soil were ideal for growing specimen trees.

Connecting his love of trees with a desire for an income, Barry started Treelocations, a business that moves large trees (up to 6m tall) using a specially designed tree spade – a huge machine that resembles an apple corer. Mounted on the back of a truck, it works by digging down and under the tree to scoop up cleanly the whole plant, including its vast root ball.

There are only three such tree spades in use in New Zealand. "People know how much I love trees," says Barry, "so they call me when there are trees that would otherwise be cut-down or removed. I go and kind of rescue them."

Rehoming semi-mature trees has enabled Barry to accelerate the landscaping of his own property, giving it the look of a project 20 years in the making rather than just four years old.

Trading trees, growing and moving them for clients deepened Barry's connection and knowledge of them over time, reinforcing his decision to surround himself with these stately plants. Cue his next project."
trees  via:anne  churches  2015  plants 
july 2015 by robertogreco
This is What Happened When an Australian City Gave Trees Email Addresses | Smart News | Smithsonian
"Trees get fan mail and even write back to Melburnian residents"

"They provide shade, air to breathe, and an undeniable sense of grandeur. But would you ever write a letter to the tree? Officials in Melbourne, Australia have discovered that for many, the answer is a resounding yes — The Guardian’s Oliver Milman reports that when they rolled out a program that assigned email addresses to trees in a bid to help identify damage and issues, they discovered that city residents preferred to write them love letters instead.

The city is calling it “an unintended but positive consequence” of their attempt to help citizens track tree damage. On their urban forest data site, Melbourne assigned ID numbers and email addresses to each of the city’s trees so it would be easier to catch and rehabilitate damaged trees.

Then the emails began to arrive. Milman writes that instead of damage reports, people began to write fan mail to trees, complimenting their looks and leaves and telling tales of how they’d helped them survive during inclement weather. Some trees even write back.

The effort is part of a larger initiative to protect Melbourne’s 70,000 city-owned trees from drought and decline. But it turns out that Melburnians have always been arboreal enthusiasts: the city council notes that in the 1880s, residents wrote begging for the planting of blue gum eucalyptus trees to “absorb bad gasses” emanating from a nearby manure depot."

[See also: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/07/when-you-give-a-tree-an-email-address/398210/ ]
australia  trees  internetofthings  email  2015  melbourne  plants  multispecies  iot 
july 2015 by robertogreco
G O S P E L  O F  T H E  T R E E S
"The Bible is a story about trees. It begins, or nearly enough, with two trees in a garden: the Tree of Life, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The pivotal event in the book comes when a man named Jesus is hanged on a tree. And the last chapter of the last book features a remade Jerusalem: “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” If you understand the trees, you understand the story.

The words and images here are presented in no particular order: this is a mosaic rather than a narrative. Clicking on the arrow at the top right of each content page will take you randomly to another page on the site.

Also, this mosaic is a work in progress: more text and images will be added to it over time.

This site is one of the lesser fruits of the Project on Lived Theology. I am greatly indebted to Charles Marsh, the founder and Director of PLT, and to the other members of the Virginia Seminar, who have greatly enriched my life in recent years. Further support for the site has been provided by the Faculty Development Fund of Wheaton College.

My name is Alan Jacobs. Any text and images on this site that are not explicitly credited to others are created by me.

The site is designed by my very talented friend Brad Cathey. Hosting is by Highgate Cross."
trees  alanjacobs  religion  bible  theology 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Do trees communicate with each other? › Ask an Expert (ABC Science)
"Do trees communicate with each other?
Surprisingly, the answer is yes.

They might seem like the strong, tall and silent type, but trees actually communicate with each other.

Forest ecologist Dr Suzanne Simard, from the University of British Colombia, studies a type of fungi that forms underground communication networks between trees in North American forests.

Big old trees — dubbed 'mother trees' — are hubs in this mycorrhizal fungal network, playing a key role in supporting other trees in the forest, especially their offspring.

"If you're a mother and you have children, you recognise your children and you treat them in certain ways. We're finding that trees will do the same thing. They'll adjust their competitive behaviour to make room for their own kin and they send those signals through mycorrhizal networks," says Simard.

"We found that the biggest oldest trees had more connections to other trees than smaller trees. It stands to reason because they have more root systems," she says.

"So when a seedling establishes on the forest floor, if it's near one of these mother trees it just links into that network and accesses that huge resource network.""
trees  communication  plants  life  via:anne  2015  multispecies  suzannesimard  biology 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The roots of artistry | Harvard Gazette
"Artists eager to capture earth’s beauty know that Mother Nature often hides her wonders from easy view. But a clever new exhibit at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study is bringing some of that organic beauty out of the shadows.

Rosetta Elkin’s “Live Matter,” organized in collaboration with Radcliffe’s Academic Ventures arts program and on display in Byerly Hall through May 29, transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary through a simple shift of perspective.

Visitors to Byerly’s Johnson-Kulukundis Family Gallery will get a rare look at the complex and creative architecture of plant life typically hidden underground. Suspended by an intricate latticework attached to the gallery ceiling is part of the mature root system of a white poplar, Populus alba in Latin

“I wanted to extract a root system in order to highlight its beauty,” said Elkin, assistant professor of landscape architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. “The exhibition is taking a view on live matter, plants, trees, that is never taken.

“I hope people take away an appreciation for the aliveness of the plant world,” she added, “and the mystery.”

The section of the root system was delicately extracted from a poplar at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. Elkin worked closely with the arboretum staff, using an air spade (a tool that blasts away the soil with pressurized air while keeping the roots intact).

An artist whose preferred medium was silkscreen, Elkin’s 2-D fascination became 3-D once she discovered landscape architecture after college. From then on, she “couldn’t work without space.”

Her professional projects have involved large-scale ventures: master plans, vegetation research in North Africa, and even a green reimagining of the headquarters of China’s Shenzhen Stock Exchange. But in such extreme urban or drought-affected environments, said Elkin, “It’s not about planting, but cultivating. It’s a very different set of operations, and it gave me a great appreciation for aliveness.”

Such big projects, which often involve large teams of architects and specialists, also gave her an appreciation for a smaller scale. For the past five years, she has turned to such projects for her installations. Her operating rule is: “Can I lift it? Can I move it? I need to be able to do the work myself.” For an installation at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum titled “Tiny Taxonomy,” Elkin offered up an inventory of some of the forest floor’s smallest plants for viewers to inspect at eye level.

Elkin hopes to shift the botanical narrative with her scaled-down approach to the seemingly ordinary. Scientific botany, with its measureable classifications, quantifiable data, simplification, and regularity, provides a “singular perspective that raises awareness of what we can do with plants, rather than what plants are actually doing,” notes her exhibit’s accompanying catalog.

Elkin is fascinated with the white poplar because of its capacity to clone itself endlessly. The tree sprouts its spindly root systems, consisting of long and fibrous fingers, in perpetuity. Its robust reproductive cycle makes it unpopular with homeowners, but it’s a botanical wonder to Elkin.

“This individual mother sends out roots not only to gain nutrients but also to reproduce,” Elkin said of the roughly 80-year-old poplar — still thriving in the arboretum — that yielded a part of its root system for the show. “Genetically, it’s exactly the same as the mother plant … it’s an everlasting, endless loop of the same kind of immortality of this plant that is just so successful that it tends to dominate.”

Elkin’s desire to shift people’s perspectives by highlighting the inherent beauty in living things is mirrored in her show catalog. Paired with images and text are comments and quotes from a range of scholars who “write with a deep appreciation for the aliveness of the plant.”

German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, naturalists Charles Darwin, Asa Gray, and others all wrote about plants, said Elkin, in a very different way than “capital-S science does.”

One of her favorite quotes appears at the beginning of the guide. It’s a line from the Austro-Hungarian botanist Raoul H. Francé, who wrote: “Form is but the track left by life.”

“It takes a particular kind of botanist,” said Elkin, “to write that line.”"
plants  trees  nature  poplars  2015  art  via:matthewbattles  rosettaelkin  roots 
may 2015 by robertogreco
How to Grow a Forest Really, Really Fast — TED Fellows — Medium
"A forest planted by humans, then left to nature’s own devices, typically takes at least 100 years to mature. What if we could make the process happen ten times faster? Eco-entrepreneur Shubhendu Sharma’s figured out a way of growing native, self-sustaining forests anywhere in the world, with the efficiency of industrial processes. He tells us how.

*****

Back in 2008, I was an industrial engineer at Toyota in India, helping prepare assembly lines and dispatch systems for car manufacture. One day, a scientist named Akira Miyawaki came to the factory to plant a forest on Toyota’s campus. He gave a presentation on his methods, and I became so fascinated that I decided I wanted to learn how to plant a forest myself.

Miyawaki is quite famous, and very old; he’s now 87. He has planted around 40 million trees all over the world, and in 2006, he won the Blue Planet Prize, the equivalent to the Nobel Prize in the environmental field. His method’s based on what’s called “potential natural vegetation”— a theory that if a piece of land is free from human intervention, a forest will naturally self-seed and take over that land within a period of around 600 to 1,000 years, with the species that would be native and robust, and that would require no maintenance. Miyawaki’s methodology amplifies that growth process to establish a mature, native forest in ten years — ten times the normal rate of forests planted by humans.

Intrigued, I volunteered with Miyawaki and studied his methodologies, and then planted a forest of 300 trees of 42 species in a 93-square-meter plot in my back garden. It was such a success that I decided to quit the car industry to start Afforestt, a for-profit company devoted to planting native forests for all kinds of clients, from farmers to corporations to city governments.

Here’s how it works. It takes six steps.

1. First, you start with soil. We identify what nutrition the soil lacks.

2. Then we identify what species we should be growing in this soil, depending on climate.

3. We then identify locally abundant biomass available in that region to give the soil whatever nourishment it needs. This is typically an agricultural or industrial byproduct — like chicken manure or press mud, a byproduct of sugar production — but it can be almost anything. We’ve made a rule that it must come from within 50 kilometers of the site, which means we have to be flexible.

4. Once we’ve amended the soil to a depth of one meter, we plant saplings that are up to 80 centimeters high, packing them in very densely — three to five saplings per square meter.

5. The forest itself must cover a 100-square-meter minimum area. This grows into a forest so dense that after eight months, sunlight can’t reach the ground. At this point, every drop of rain that falls is conserved, and every leaf that falls is converted into humus. The more the forest grows, the more it generates nutrients for itself, accelerating further growth. This density also means that individual trees begin competing for sunlight — another reason these forests grow so fast.

6. The forest needs to be watered and weeded for the first two or three years, at which point it becomes self-sustaining. After that, it’s best to disturb the forest as little as possible to allow its ecosystem, including animals, to become established."

[via: https://twitter.com/Threadbare/status/590778628419485698 ]
trees  forests  agriculture  environment  2015  plants  kareneng  shubhendusharma  rewilding  afforestation  geoengineering  afforestt  akiramiyawaki  india  toyota 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The Best Technology for Fighting Climate Change? Trees - The Atlantic
"Between now and 2050, forests are one of our "most promising" geo-engineering tools."



"When people talk about technologies that might offset climate change, they often evoke not-yet-invented marvels, like planes spraying chemicals into the atmosphere or enormous skyscrapers gulping carbon dioxide from the clouds.

But in a new report, Oxford University researchers say that our best hopes might not be so complex.

In fact, they are two things we already know how to do: plant trees and improve the soil.

Both techniques, said the report, are “no regrets.” They’ll help the atmosphere no matter what, they’re comparatively low-cost, and they carry little additional risk. Specifically, the two techniques it recommends are afforestation—planting trees where there were none before—and biochar—improving the soil by burying a layer of dense charcoal.

Between now and 2050, trees and charcoal are the “most promising” technologies out there, it said.

It also cautioned, however, that these so-called “Negative Emissions Technologies” or NETs should only be seen as a way to stave off the worst of climate change.

“NETs should not be seen as a deus ex machina that will ‘save the day,’” its authors wrote. NETs should instead be seen as one of several tools to meet the international goal of avoiding climate change greater than 2 degrees Celsius. Another crucial tool is reducing emissions.

It’s a solution that makes sense, as forest management is one of the oldest ways that humans have shaped their environment. Before the arrival of Europeans, Native communities in the Americas had been burning forest fires for millennia to support the growth of desirable plants like blueberries and to manage ecosystems. British communities have long practiced coppicing, a tree-cutting technique that keeps forests full of younger trees.

In other words, humanity has been “geoengineering” with trees for a very long time. The authors of the Oxford report add that afforestation will need global support in order to be successful.

“It is clear that attaining negative emissions is in no sense an easier option than reducing current emissions,” it says (emphasis mine). “To remove CO2 on a comparable scale to the rate it is being emitted inevitably requires effort and infrastructure on a comparable scale to global energy or agricultural systems.”"
trees  climatechange  2015  robinsonmeyer  geoengineering  plants  history  soil  forests 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Don’t do away with the fairies: we need to relearn our sense of the magical | Sara Maitland | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Woods are magical. Throughout northern Europe they are deeply linked to older ways of being, to what we might now like to dismiss as superstitious, childish nonsense.

But we cannot so simply wipe this out. Woods are our original home. If we do not populate the woods with imagination, with stories, with wonders, we will destroy them, or limit our own flourishing – or both.

I believe that most of us have a deep yearning for the magical, for a secret “otherness”, for an environment flowing with abundance – not just with nature but with super-nature too; with a rich background of stories and concepts and images, to inform our individual imaginations and give them actual material to come to grips with.

We know that our children are growing up richer and safer, less likely to die in childhood than ever. We also know that they (and their grownups ) have increasingly poor mental health, with higher levels of depression, anxiety, attention deficit problems and eating disorders. There are lots of reasons for this, of course; it is complex and complicated. But in 2012 a survey suggested that more than half of Icelanders believe in, or at least entertain the possibility of the existence of, the huldufólk – the hidden people, the elves. Iceland ranks well above the UK in social stability, equality and most noticeably happiness (ninth in the world, compared with our 22nd). Is it possible that there is a connection? And would we lose anything by assuming that there might be?"
nature  forests  woods  children  imagination  creativity  fantasy  iceland  magic  mentalhealth  environment  hiddenpeople  huldufólk  depression  anxiety  otherness  trees 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Scientists Seeking to Save World Find Best Technology Is Trees - Bloomberg Business
"Oxford University scientists, after a year of research, have determined the best technology to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and try to reverse global warming.

It’s trees.

They considered methods ranging from capturing emissions from factories and power stations to extracting carbon dioxide directly from the air, and adding lime to oceans to increase their absorption of the gas, a study released on Tuesday showed.

None were more promising than planting trees, or baking waste wood to form a type of charcoal that can be added to soil. Relative to other so-called Negative Emissions Technologies, afforestation and biochar are low-cost, have fewer uncertainties and offer other benefits to the environment, the research shows.

Policy makers need to work to increase their use as they are the most encouraging of the possibilities through 2050, the scientists wrote.

The study follows a report by the university in November that also found using geoengineering, like spraying sea salt or sulphate aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight, won’t provide a “magic bullet” to combat global warming. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in April said extracting emissions may become necessary to curb global risks.

Deploying NETs by 2050 could help to draw 2.5 years of CO2 from the atmosphere, almost exclusively using afforestation, biochar and improvements to soil carbon, the university found.

Most other technologies are high cost, need large amounts of energy and have many uncertainties and challenges, it said. Using them isn’t easier than cutting emissions to start with.

Beyond 2050, it’s “conceivable” that NETs will have more potential and investments now are sensible in case they’re needed. Their deployment doesn’t mean “business as usual” and shouldn’t foster continued fossil-fuel use, the research shows."

[See also: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/02/the-best-technology-for-fighting-climate-change-trees/385304/
via:jbushnell  trees  climatechange  technology  science  nature  plants  geoengineering  2015 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Trees Returning Emails | Urban Forest Strategy - Broadsheet Melbourne - Broadsheet
"Did you know that you can email every single tree in the City of Melbourne – and they’ll write back?

Right now, you can log onto the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Visual map and email any tree you’d like within the council’s boundaries.

Yep, all 60,000 of them.

Each tree has a unique ID number and, theoretically speaking, each tree will get back to you. But don’t picture an elm sitting down in a special tree-friendly computer cafe – it’ll be council staff answering your messages (so behave, now).

“Some said we were wasting money, but the trees were always going to have individual ID numbers anyway. So it was only logical we’d assign the ID numbers to an email which connects these trees to the community,” says Melbourne city councillor, Arron Wood.

So far the messages have ranged from piss takes to genuine expressions of devotion. So, if you’ve ever used a tree to prop yourself up with on a night out, the world’s most liveable city is now giving you the chance to apologise the morning after.

The idea came about through the council’s Urban Forest Strategy, which was launched in 2007. It wants to make Melbourne a city within a forest. But converting this plan into action won’t be measured by a few emails. That’s just a way to get the public on board.

Melbourne is currently in the midst of a change that will affect most of the city’s streets, parks, and gardens. Emailing our trees is one way the council is trying to communicate this fundamental shift to all Melburnians."

[See also: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/29/city-of-melbourne-prepares-to-see-some-emails-lovely-as-its-trees ]
trees  melbourne  internetofthings  iot  data  cities  environment  plants  natue  email 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Trees | The Evergreen State College
"How do trees, and forest communities, function? What makes them tick? What determines the tallest trees in the world? What makes trees some of the oldest organisms on earth? These and many other questions about trees have captivated humans since the dawn of time. In this program we will closely examine trees in their variety of form and function. We will use our studies to learn how understanding of tree form and function integrates study of botany, mathematics, physics, chemistry, geography and ecology.

Our studies will be divided between those that focus on individual trees, forests and whole forests. We will also read classic and recent texts about human interactions with trees and how our relationships to trees still help shape our collective identities and cultures. Students will learn how to read and interpret recent scientific studies from peer-reviewed journals and be challenged to reconcile popular belief about the roles of trees with scientific observations. Day trips, workshops, labs and a multiple-day field trip will allow us to observe some of the largest trees on the West Coast and observe and measure trees in extreme environments. Communication skills will be emphasized, particularly reading scientific articles and writing for scientific audiences. We will also practice skills for communicating to a broader public using nonfiction and technical writing."
evergreenstatecollege  coursedescriptions  programdescriptions  2014  biology  botany  environment  environmentalstudies  naturalhistory  riting  fieldstudies  forestry  trees  plants  ecology  naturalscience  science  dylanfischer 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The Trees That Miss The Mammoths | American Forests
"Trees that once depended on animals like the wooly mammoth for survival have managed to adapt and survive in the modern world."



"Warning: Reading this article may cause a whiplash-inducing paradigm shift. You will no longer view wild areas the same way. Your concepts of “pristine wilderness” and “the balance of nature” will be forever compromised. You may even start to see ghosts.

Consider the fruit of the Osage-orange, named after the Osage Indians associated with its range. In the fall, Osage-orange trees hang heavy with bright green, bumpy spheres the size of softballs, full of seeds and an unpalatable milky latex. They soon fall to the ground, where they rot, unused, unless a child decides to test their ballistic properties.

Trees that make such fleshy fruits do so to entice animals to eat them, along with the seeds they contain. The seeds pass through the animal and are deposited, with natural fertilizer, away from the shade and roots of the parent tree where they are more likely to germinate. But no native animal eats Osage-orange fruits. So, what are they for? The same question could be asked of the large seed pods of the honeylocust and the Kentucky coffeetree.

To answer these questions and solve the “riddle of the rotting fruit,” we first need to go to Costa Rica. That is where tropical ecologist Dan Janzen of the University of Pennsylvania noticed that the fruits of a mid-sized tree in the pea family called Cassia grandis were generally scorned by the native animals, but gobbled up by introduced horses and cattle. Janzen, who received the Crafoord Prize (ecology’s version of the Nobel) for his work on the co-evolution of plants and animals, had the idea that the seeds of Cassia grandis, and about 40 other large-fruited Costa Rican trees, were adapted to be dispersed by large mammals that are now extinct. He teamed up with Paul Martin, a paleoecologist at the University of Arizona, to develop the concept of ecological anachronisms.

An anachronism is something that is chronologically out of place: a typewriter or floppy disc in a modern office. Leather helmets at the Super Bowl. Or, hopefully, the internal combustion engine in the near future. An ecological anachronism is an adaptation that is chronologically out of place, making its purpose more or less obsolete. A tree with big fruits to attract huge mammals as dispersers of its seeds is anachronistic in a world of relatively small mammals.

In the case of Cassia grandis, Janzen and Martin figured that the foot-long woody seed pods were eaten for their sweet pulp by giant ground sloths and elephant-like gomphotheres. These multi-ton animals had such big gullets that they didn’t need to chew a lot, so most of the seeds passed through the animals unharmed and ready to propagate more Cassia grandis trees. However, the gomphotheres and giant groundsloths disappeared about 13,000 years ago, toward the end of the last Ice Age of the Pleistocene.

Gomphotheres and ground-sloths? The Ice Age? What, you may be wondering, do they have to do with Osage-oranges, honeylocusts, and coffeetrees today?"



"Now let’s return to the forlorn fruit of the Osage orange. Nothing today eats it. Once it drops from the tree, all of them on a given tree practically in unison, the only way it moves is to roll downhill or float in flood waters. Why would you evolve such an over-engineered, energetically expensive fruit if gravity and water are your only dispersers, and you like to grow on higher ground? You wouldn’t. Unless you expected it to be eaten by mammoths or ground-sloths.

According to my field guide, Osage-orange has a limited natural range in the Red River region of east-central Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, and adjacent Arkansas. Indians used to travel hundreds of miles for the wood, prized as the finest for making bows. Then European settlers planted it widely as living fences, taking advantage of the tree’s ability to spread via shoots from lateral roots. But Osage-orange persisted, and became widely naturalized long after the invention of barbed wire rendered them useless to farmers. The tree can now be found in 39 states and Ontario. If Osage-orange does so well elsewhere, why was it restricted to such a small area?

The answer likely lies in the disappearance of its primary disperser. Without mammoths, groundsloths, and other megafauna to transport its seeds uphill, the range of the species gradually shrank to the Red River region. In fact, fossils tell us that Osage-orange was much more widespread and diverse before the megafaunal extinctions. Back then, Osage-oranges could be found north up to Ontario, and there were seven, not just one, species in the Osage-orange genus, Maclura."



"Today, the evidence of human impact is all around us, but now we know that even the most pristine of wilderness areas have many missing pieces. We’ve learned to see the ghosts of the lost megafauna in the rotting fruit, poor dispersal, and useless thorns of Osage-orange, Kentucky coffeetree, honeylocust, and others. But what are we still missing?"



"The first Americans could not have known they were causing extinctions, and they could not have understood the implications. But we no longer have such an excuse. As Aldo Leopold has advised, “The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the pieces.” We have tinkered, lost some of the most important pieces, and tried to put many where they don’t belong. That we will continue to tinker there is no doubt. Everything will depend on how intelligently we do it. And that will depend, in part, on our ability to see the ghosts that haunt our trees."

[See also: http://scientopia.org/blogs/guestblog/2012/09/25/forgotten-fruits-or-megafaunal-dispersal-syndrome-and-the-case-of-the-missing-herbivores/ ]
ecology  evolution  via:vruba  whitbronaugh  animals  plants  mammoths  extinction  trees  mastadons  giantgroundsloths  anachronisms  iceage  pleistocene 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Rebecca Giggs – Cherry tree season Japan
"To the credulous outsider, sakura is primarily an aesthetic experience. The blossoms are utterly captivating — as is observing the glee of other people, who pose and gaze amid the trees. The stereotype is as seductive as it is condescending: here is an innocence, we might believe, now lost to Western environmentalists, delighting in the seasons and seasonal change. The enjoyment of sakura is that of being reacquainted with the thrill of meticulous observation. How often does the opportunity to dwell on simply looking at trees present itself to the ordinary urbanite? No one thinks it peculiar in Ueno Park to bend a switch of blossom and inhale its faint perfume.

For hard-headed environmentalists, sakura might be seen as nothing more than the mawkish appreciation of natural beauty. Why talk of these common and decorative trees, when icebergs, polar bears, a dozen small types of amphibian and old-growth forests face the real possibility of extinction, in our lifetime? One might sooner look to ikebana, the Japanese custom of flower-arranging, or even bonsai — trees made miniature with tourniquets and topiary — to garner knowledge about how Japanese people engage with nature. There, at least, we see evidence of an active engagement with natural objects, and an attempt to use botany as a study of environmental relationships. Sakura, on the other hand, seems at once too passive and too sentimental to sustain fruitful analysis.

But to interpret sakura and the conventions of hanami as mere acts of aesthetic indulgence is to miss the full significance of the season. Sakura flowering is brief. To the Japanese people, the cherry-blossom season is properly understood as a contemplation of transience in human life. To celebrate sakura is to mark the fleet-footed passage of time: from the traditions of flower-viewing begun in Japan’s classical history to the embodied time of personal histories and, inevitably, individual mortality. As Motojirō Kajii exclaims in his story ‘Under the Cherry Trees’ (1928):
Dead bodies are buried under the sakura! You have to believe it. Otherwise, you couldn’t possibly explain the beauty of the sakura blossoms. I was restless, lately, because I couldn’t believe in this beauty. But I have now finally understood: dead bodies are buried under the cherry trees.


Beauty, as always, is in step with the death drive. Ultimately, it is this aspect of the sakura tradition that yokes environmental imagination to concepts of deep time, past and future. For, of course, sakura is an acknowledgement that we are each others’ environment; that our communal relationships with each other, with our social pasts and futures, determine how we value the world of trees. Sakura reinforces a set of environmental values in which people — and people’s ethical regard both for one another and for other natural objects — are central. After all, human beings were always ‘natural objects’, despite environmentalism’s focus on wild spaces, creatures and trees. In an age of systemic climate change, the grandeur and mystery of all that we call ‘nature’ is indelibly tinged by human presence. Sakura is founded on an analogous commingling of environmental and cultural information — yet it resists hubris, melancholia or sentimentality.

Leaping from branch to branch in Ueno Park are jungle crows — a heavy, large-billed Asian species of corvid — whose burgeoning population caused Tokyo’s governor in 2009 to call for crow-meat pies to become the city’s special dish. The birds shake down showers of blossom and leave the boughs bare. The season is over. Sakura’s meditations on human transience bond the Japanese people tightly to those future generations whose claim on the experience of cherry trees will be not just seasonal, but perpetual. Behind the beauteous enjoyment of these flowers lies an appreciation of environmental imagination we would do well to recoup."
2014  japan  rebeccagiggs  sakura  hanami  transience  life  death  beauty  cherryblossoms  trees  spring  environmentalism  sustainability  environment  sentimentality  melancholia  hubris  culture 
april 2014 by robertogreco
California’s Bioterror Victim, Eucalyptus trees
"Has insect detective Timothy Paine uncovered a case of biological sabotage—a war on the Golden State’s millions of eucalyptus trees? Or is it a cautionary example of our vulnerability to foreign pests?"

[Related: http://www.npr.org/2012/07/22/157189794/invasive-pests-or-tiny-biological-terrorists ]
eucalyptus  california  2012  trees  environment 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Who Eucalyptized Southern California? | LA as Subject | SoCal Focus | KCET
"Historical accounts vary, but according to tradition the first blue gums arrived in Southern California in 1865, when fur trapper-turned-farmer William Wolfskill planted five specimens outside his house -- the Hugo Reid Adobe -- on Rancho Santa Anita. An agricultural experimenter who made a fortune growing oranges, walnuts, and wine grapes, Wolfskill must have recognized the eucalyptus' potential to upset the commercial timber market; although conifers grew in the mountains, the lowlands of Southern California were mostly treeless plains, broken by isolated copses of live oak and sycamore. The fast-growing eucalyptus could provide a large, local supply of timber in short order."

[See also: http://www.independent.com/news/2011/jan/15/how-eucalyptus-came-california/ ]
california  botany  history  trees  eucalyptus  glvo 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Moving Day | ListServe Meta
"Since the email from the nice people at The Listserve caught
me on the morning of moving day, I’m filling this email with
fragments from journals I found during the move, flipping
through them at random and typing out what I find interesting
until I hit the word limit:

…I am most impressed by those who can find the signal in the
noise. People like David Foster Wallace, W.H. Auden, Amy
Hempel, Rob Greco, my sister, Matthew Weiner, Sherlock
Holmes, Deron Bauman, Al Swearengen, Frank Chimero, Ira
Glass, Noah Dennis, Patrick Rothfuss, Ze Frank…

Book idea: How to Look at People…

Matt Thomas: “To live in Iowa — and to stay sane
– requires the cultivation of a vast inner geography.”
– yes, exactly, that’s how I survived, isn’t it?…

“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way
they have to live than other things do.” – Willa Cather,
O Pioneers!…

careworn = best adjective"
thoughts  commonplacebooks  noticing  observation  adjectives  trees  notetaking  notebooks  friends  2012  thelistserve  willacather  mattthomas  patternrecognition  patterns  cv  careworn  ego  lukeneff 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Architizer Blog » Singapore’s Steel ‘Supertrees’ Rise over Marina Bay
"Describing the reign of the mechanistic, Talorized new state order and its transmogrification of nature in his dystopian scare novel We, Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote how, under the sovereign gaze of the “One-State”, all livings things were remade, cast anew by the Machine: “All was new, made of steel: a steel sun, steel trees, steel people.” The dreary (and admittedly, awesome) reality has found a home in Singapore, amid steel “Gardens by the Bay”, foregrounding Moshe Safdie’s gargantuan Marina Bay Sands.

The “supertrees”, as they are called, are part of the soon-to-be completed OCBC Skyway that weaves an aerial walkway through a grove of 18 arboreal structures, which range in height from 25-50 meters (82-164 feet). The steel trunks will collect and store rainwater for reuse and will also sport built-in solar panels to generate electricity, which will be used, among other purposes, to release hot air into the  ground conservatories…"
2012  structures  design  architecture  singapore  trees 
may 2012 by robertogreco
13-Year-Old Makes Solar Power Breakthrough by Harnessing the Fibonacci Sequence | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World
"While most 13-year-olds spend their free time playing video games or cruising Facebook, one 7th grader was trekking through the woods uncovering a mystery of science. After studying how trees branch in a very specific way, Aidan Dwyer created a solar cell tree that produces 20-50% more power than a uniform array of photovoltaic panels. His impressive results show that using a specific formula for distributing solar cells can drastically improve energy generation. The study earned Aidan a provisional U.S patent - it's a rare find in the field of technology and a fantastic example of how biomimicry can drastically improve design."<br />
<br />
[More: http://www.amnh.org/nationalcenter/youngnaturalistawards/2011/aidan.html ]
design  technology  science  math  energy  solar  solarpower  aidandwyer  trees  nature  fibonacci 
august 2011 by robertogreco
tezuka architects: ring around a tree
"japanese practice tezuka architects has completed 'ring around a tree', a dual-purpose annex building at fuji kindergarden - designed by the duo in 2007 - in tachikawa, tokyo, japan. sited adjacent to the existing school, the structure functions as both english-language classrooms and as a waiting station for school buses."
japan  tokyo  tezukaarchitects  fujikindergarten  trees  design  architecture  schooldesign  landscape  2011  kindergarten  schools  education  takaharutezuka  2007 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Mycorrhizal Networks - Botany Photo of the Day
"Mycorrhizal fungi form obligate symbioses with trees, where the tree supplies the fungus with carbohydrate energy in return for water and nutrients the fungal mycelia gather from the soil; mycorrhizal networks form when mycelia connect the roots of two or more plants of the same or different species. Graduate student Kevin Beiler has uncovered the extent and architecture of this network through the use of new molecular tools that can distinguish the DNA of one fungal individual from another, or of one tree's roots from another. He has found that all trees in dry interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) forests are interconnected, with the largest, oldest trees serving as hubs, much like the hub of a spoked wheel, where younger trees establish within the mycorrhizal network of the old trees."
mapping  networks  cooperation  trees  via:hrheingold  fungi  mycorrhizalfungi  douglasfirs  biology 
july 2011 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: On the Grid
"Dutch photographer Gerco de Ruijter recently got in touch with an extraordinary series of aerial photographs called Baumschule—some of which, he explains, were taken using a camera mounted on a fishing rod. <br />
<br />
The series features "32 photographs of tree nurseries and grid forests in the Netherlands.""<br />
<br />
[See also: http://chelseaartmuseum.org/exhibits/2004/agnesdenes/gallery/AgnesDenes_images14.html ]
photography  art  landscape  nature  plants  trees  gercoderuijter  bldgblog 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Wi-Fi Hurts Trees, Early Study Finds | Neon Tommy
"An initial test by German researchers shows the proliferation of wireless Internet is causing discoloration, disgfiguration and disease in trees.<br />
<br />
The electromagnetic radiation emitted by Wi-Fi access points may have a negative effect on the growth of plants, according to the study at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. The researchers note a larger and longer test is needed to verify the results because previous studies have shown Wi-Fi to be pretty safe.<br />
<br />
The study focused on 20 ash trees. The trees nearest to a Wi-Fi point ended up with a "lead-like shine" on the leaves because of leaf skin death.<br />
<br />
More will be known about this possible damaging effect of Wi-Fi in February when the researchers attend an unnamed conference."
wifi  trees  nature  radiation  plants 
november 2010 by robertogreco
The taxonomy of the invisible - Bobulate
"Peter del Tredici, a senior research scientist at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and lecturer in landscape architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, argues the wildlife that surrounds us every day often has an “image problem:” it goes unnoticed, unattended, and unvalued. “There is no denying the fact that many — if not most — of the plants … suffer from image problems associated with the label ‘weeds,’ or, to use a more recent term, ‘invasive species.’ From the plant’s perspective, ‘invasiveness’ is just another word for successful reproduction — the ultimate goal of all organisms, including humans…. The term is a value judgment that humans apply to plants we do not like, not a biological characteristic.”"
iphone  applications  location  lizdanzico  weeds  plants  invasivespecies  nature  naturedeficitdisorder  urban  urbanism  childhood  chores  memories  nostalgia  noticing  danhill  cityofsound  trees  treesny  nyc  life  systems  biology  glvo  srg  edg  humans  perspective  language  words  taxonomy  wildlife  cities  value  organisms  shrequest1  ios 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Bohm Teaser on Vimeo
"Bohm is a zen-like and soothing experience about creating a tree.

As a player you explore the level of interaction you have. Discovering the different ways you control and manipulate your tree is all part of the game experience.

Bohm is about slow gameplay. Growing, creating branches, pushing your tree into strange shapes, and discovering how beautiful and relaxing these simple processes can be.

Every tree is generated procedurally while you play. As the tree grows, so does the adaptive music. Both change and evolve over time, under the influence of buttons pressed and decisions made.

Bohm is not about winning, but about letting yourself get carried away in an aesthetic and auditory poetic experience. An interactive homage to the beauty, slowness and peace of nature." [See also: http://bohmthegame.com AND http://monobanda.nl]
bohm  trees  slowgaming  slow  slowgameplay  games  gameplay  play  organic  plants  evolution  nature 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Trees Near You
"Trees Near You helps you learn about more than 500,000 trees that live on New York City sidewalks. For any area of the city, from block to borough, you can see the different species that live there, and measure the environmental (and monetary!) benefits that these trees provide.

Trees Near You was created by Brett Camper using street tree census data publicly released by the city government, and won a Best Application Honorable Mention in the NYC BigApps competition."
iphone  applications  maps  mapping  trees  nyc  geolocation  gis  opendata  mobile  cartography  urban  environment  nature  ios 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Theodore Watson - Funky Forest Moomah Edition
"‘Funky Forest’ is an interactive ecosystem where children create trees with their body and then divert the water flowing from the waterfall to the trees to keep them alive. The health of the trees contributes to the overall health of the forest and the types of creatures that inhabit it. The Moomah Edition of ‘Funky Forest’ expands on the original by introducing four seasons each with a unique environment and creatures to match. Each season also features an interactive particle system. For example in Fall leaves falling from the trees blow in the wind and in winter it snows. The Moomah edition is permanently installed at the Moomah Children’s cafe in New York City."
installation  ecology  illustration  inspiration  trees  water  interactive  children  art 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Sapodilla - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Sapodilla grows to 3–4 m tall. It is wind-resistant and the bark is rich in a white, gummy latex called chicle. The ornamental leaves are medium green and glossy. They are alternate, elliptic to ovate, 7–15 cm long, with an entire margin. The white flowers are inconspicuous and bell-like, with a six-lobed corolla.
fruit  trees  chikoo  sapodilla 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Leaves Show Looped Networks May Be Better Than Branched | Wired Science | Wired.com
"In the simulations, the looped network performed better than nonlooped ones in several important ways, the team reported Jan. 29 in Physical Review Letters. Damage from hungry insects, cold weather or parasites can interrupt leaves’ normal venation patterns. Connected circular veins allowed the flow of water and minerals to circumvent areas where veins were destroyed, the team shows. The looped network also allowed leaves to easily adjust the flow rate of water through veins, which can help leaves conserve water on a hot day, Katifori says."
science  botany  plants  leaves  trees  networks  patterns  loops 
february 2010 by robertogreco
dass: tree house hotel
"the tree house hotel designed by dass is a small hideout in nature - a microspace placed
housing  treehouses  trees  wood  homes  architecture  design  small  smallhomes 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Novelties - Foliage Field Guides for Cellphones - NYTimes.com
"THE traditional way to identify an unfamiliar tree is to pull out a field guide and search its pages for a matching description. One day people may pull out a smartphone instead, photographing a leaf from the mystery tree and then having the phone search for matching images in a database.
trees  iphone  applications  identification  botany  inventory  csiap  ios 
may 2009 by robertogreco
LA Weekly - News - Rolling Out L.A.'s Cement Carpet - Tibby Rothman
"Downtown's long-promised central park has few trees. "Ugly" doesn't cover it"
losangeles  parks  urban  design  planning  green  trees  downtown 
july 2008 by robertogreco
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