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Restoring cut over/heavily logged land  RSS feed

 
Jeremy Droplet
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Location: Central Maine (Zone 4b)
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Browsing the real estate listings, I come across many photos that look like this






My initial knee-jerk reaction has been to steer clear of land this badly beat up. The valuable timber is gone, biodiversity is gone, and someone else's mess is left behind to be cleaned up. But the more I think about this and discuss the possibilities, I can't help but think logged over land might in some ways be ideal for permaculture. Here in Maine, we've seen our natural forests stripped, molested and neglected only to have the process repeated again and again by greedy timber barons. The thought of clearing an acre or two of healthy forest to plant gardens or build structures on my own property causes something of a disconnect. I'd rather leave healthy ecosystems alone. We humans have done enough damage.

But land like this exists whether we like it or not. The restorative nature of permaculture seems to fit hand in hand with a project like this. It's well known that 'disturbances' such as this can actually help accelerate the building fertility with the right timing and the right arsenal of tools. I suppose I'm just trying to stir up ideas here. Has anyone ever taken something like this on? It seems incredibly labor intensive, but all the pieces are there.
 
John Elliott
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I know what you mean, my neighbor sold off her marketable timber and the loggers left a big mess, and the 40 acres down at the closet intersection was logged the same way. Oh, to have a Bobcat and be able to scoop up a few buckets to make some hugelbeds!

It's as labor intensive as you want to make it. It doesn't take much labor to stick seedlings directly in the ground; one person can plant a few acres in a good day. It would take a lot more labor to arrange all the debris into swales and catchments and fashion them into hugelkultur type berms. When I see parcels of land that look like this, it reminds me that not enough people have gotten the message about permaculture. It's all fine and good for people to harvest the timber on their property, but they need to know what permaculture can do to restore the land in a much shorter time.
 
Jerry Evans
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Just a different perspective.
While it hurts to see mature trees cleared . It could be worst. "Greedy Timber Barrons" own the land for miles around my house. They never sell land around here. As a neighbor goes it beats the heck out of trailer parks or subdivision.
As for as buying land like this most of your heavey work is done for you and the price will be much lower per acre. Dont asume there is no biodiversity on these properties. With disturbed soil and sunlight they are ready to explode back to life ready to overtake and overwhelm any thing you plant.

 
Jeremy Droplet
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Jerry Evans wrote:Just a different perspective.
While it hurts to see mature trees cleared . It could be worst. "Greedy Timber Barrons" own the land for miles around my house. They never sell land around here. As a neighbor goes it beats the heck out of trailer parks or subdivision.
As for as buying land like this most of your heavey work is done for you and the price will be much lower per acre. Dont asume there is no biodiversity on these properties. With disturbed soil and sunlight they are ready to explode back to life ready to overtake and overwhelm any thing you plant.



Yes. Out in the sticks your choices for neighbors are GMO/heavy fertilizer/heavy pesticide farms, timber lands, or recreational use property (this to me means ATVs, snowmobiles, hunters, and other people who generally don't care to observe property boundaries and regularly trespass on your land). So you are right; woodlots often do make better neighbors than some of the others. Of course, if you've ever lived next to a woodlot being cut and spent a portion of your life inundated with the sounds of chainsaws and logging trucks you might start dreaming about that subdivision...

Yes, they've removed the timber already, but this is a source of potential income lost. A selectively thinned well managed wood lot can be productive and profitable for the right individual for many years. Of course the price is part of the factor. Second (really 3rd or more) growth forest goes for thousands per acre in most parts. Cut over beat up land like those I pictured above can be had for a few hundred/ac.

Your last point hits the nail on the head for me. With the right resources and the right mind set, you could capitalize on these disturbances to rapidly build fertility and get useful plantings established. This is my real interest.

A dozer could make quick work of some of the slash left behind. Pile it up in windrows, cover with soil, sow with cover crop and some tree seedlings and you'd be in good shape going forward.
 
Jeremy Droplet
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John Elliott wrote:I know what you mean, my neighbor sold off her marketable timber and the loggers left a big mess, and the 40 acres down at the closet intersection was logged the same way. Oh, to have a Bobcat and be able to scoop up a few buckets to make some hugelbeds!

It's as labor intensive as you want to make it. It doesn't take much labor to stick seedlings directly in the ground; one person can plant a few acres in a good day. It would take a lot more labor to arrange all the debris into swales and catchments and fashion them into hugelkultur type berms. When I see parcels of land that look like this, it reminds me that not enough people have gotten the message about permaculture. It's all fine and good for people to harvest the timber on their property, but they need to know what permaculture can do to restore the land in a much shorter time.


Exactly. Forests are robust. Cut it down, and it will work damned hard to re-establish itself. It's a toxic cycle though. Each time the forest is cut, the biomass is trucked out, and nothing is added, we lose a great deal. That bare soil gets beaten on by sun and rain with nothing to protect it. No growing rootmass left behind to prevent our gravel-clay soil from becoming hardpan. You can get away with this a few times, but how long will it take to completely deplete that top soil? What will be the quality of the standing timber be like when my children need to source their building lumber? My grandchildren? Surely clear cutting and walking away is not the answer to building any sort of future.
 
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