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need advice to increase biodiversity!

 
Neil Williams
Posts: 3
Location: NW Oregon, Zone 8a
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First of all, sorry if this is the wrong forum for this question. I'm new and still figuring things out Anyway...

Just moved onto an 8acre piece of property (NW Oregon) with about 6acres treed. Problem is that most of that is monoculture Douglas Fir. I'm guessing it was a failed tree farm, since all the trees are about 10-15 years old and already skirted, planted in rows. The previous owner had also kept the area free from brush and even kept the grass short, so that literally is the only thing growing there.

Basically I'm wondering what I should do to increase the biodiversity. I have about 1.5 acre that looks like it was clear cut about 20 years ago, but was essentially left alone and has grown very nicely. Much more beautiful (and healthy, I'm sure) than the rest.

Should I transplant some of the growies from there to the doug fir sections, or should I leave it alone to increase biodiversity on its own?

Doug fir is more or less an apex species so I doubt maple/oak/alder would do well at this point. I was thinking about planting some western hemlock since it's a shade tolerant tree. Maybe some red cedar. I don't know. I don't want to mess it up more. Maybe a combination of thinning the doug fir and planting new species? Or am I over-thinking it.. should I just leave it be?

Anybody have experience with this?
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1556
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Neil,

If you have just arrived I would say go slowly, see what happens over the next few months and get a better feel for your land. You may come up with a great plan in summer and then find that the area you planned to grow veggies in becomes a bog in winter.

As far as increasing diversity, depending on what was there first you may find that the soil beneath your fir trees still has a viable seed bank, just waiting for warm and light. I would think about selectively thinning an area to see what comes up - these are likely to be locally well adapted species and will give you an indication of what your woodland should look like without the plantation.

Mike
 
Neil Williams
Posts: 3
Location: NW Oregon, Zone 8a
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Thanks Michael, sounds like a good plan. I haven't cut anything since we moved in and some blackberries are already growing. Which kinda makes me nervous because I don't want those to take over, but at the same time I think the only reason they are growing is because they are getting more light from the trees being skirted.

Sounds like I'll leave it alone for now and see what happens. A couple of the trees need to come down anyway since they are dead. Should be interesting to see what pops up.
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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Here's a thread from last year - someone with a similar problem. http://www.permies.com/t/14095/permaculture/Permaculture-forest-coping-Douglas-Fir

You might also want to contact Burnt Ridge Nursery - it's one of my personal favorites and they happen to be right there in your area. They should be able to direct you to the plants that will grow in your forest. I'm thinking there are a lot of interesting blueberries, some vines, other kinds of fruit/nut trees if you open out some space by thinning the firs a bit. burntridgenursery.com

Here's a paper on how to increase biodiversity of douglas fir stands in Oregon: http://fresc.usgs.gov/products/papers/mang_bio.pdf
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1556
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Blackberries make a good nursery for those regenerating plants - a good thick tangle protects them from casual browsing by deer and as they grow up and fill the canopy they will eventually shade them back out again. Also, a few goats on the property will forage brambles. You can use electric fences to restrict them to certain areas. I've also heard of pigs being used to grub up their root systems.
 
Neil Williams
Posts: 3
Location: NW Oregon, Zone 8a
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Wow, excellent information Renate, thanks! I'll look over those resources.
 
A Philipsen
Posts: 58
Location: OR - Willamette Valley
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Blackberries make a good nursery for those regenerating plants
Well, yes and no. It works for trees, but all the little undergrowth can't compete with the berries until they get shaded out at which point, it's too dark for the others as well. I'd keep an eye on them, don't let them get a foothold. If you keep the noxious weeds from taking over, a lot of stuff should fill in on it's own. Also, if you wait and give some thought to what you do want growing, around February you can pick up a bunch of native plants and/or trees super cheap at the seedling sales. Not that I'm saying that all you should plant is natives, but they're certainly low maintenance and a good place to start.

Also, I got goats because my own property was overrun with noxious weeds. I have a small woods that, now that the berries/roses are cleared out, is springing back to life and every day I see something new in it. I'm not saying run out and get goats, I limit their access to my woods now because I don't want it empty, but used carefully, livestock can just about work miracles, it's something to consider.
 
Michael Forest
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Biodiversity in the short term is, relatively speaking easy to create. Dealing with trees and biodiversity is another story entirely. Trees,compared to humans are ancient beings. Creating ( natural) diversity takes more than a single human generation. If you consider your self primarily a farmer (permaculture or other wise) than you'll probably see the trees,or a good portion of them at least, as obstructions to your goals. If you consider your self a forest steward than you need to consider the complex natural relationships and what it takes to further a monoculture into a diverse secondary growth forest. Forest cycles are large, 500 years or more is not uncommon.
 
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