So it looks like the evidence indicates that forests are far more efficient at sequestering carbon than any other system. How can we encourage more people to plant or allow more forests to grow? Even on permies, for example, how can we encourage people not to clear their forests for pasture? What specific models can we offer that allow them to pursue their goals of farming, while allowing the maximum amount of forest to grow?
For me it's all about economics . Wood is a wonderful material for building , furniture and for fuel .
Why not tax everything that isn't wood so that wood becomes again the material of choice for building . No more fake plastic covered chip board no more concrete only buildings or coal/ gas / nuclear powerstations . We can do this ! It needs will not new techknowedgy . Why remove a pasture when you can get more money planting trees ?
Living in Anjou , France,
For the many not for the few
David Livingston wrote:
Why not tax everything that isn't wood so that wood becomes again the material of choice for building .
I think that would be an excellent incentive. The problem I see with the idea is that none of us here on permies have much influence on the taxing structure or trade. I guess what I'm looking for are suggestions for what we permies can actually do to encourage forests, rather than depending on politicians and officials. Not to say we shouldn't try to influence politicians when we can, but that is such a slow and difficult process. How can we present the evidence for forests in a more compelling way to fellow permaculturists and farmers? How can we counter their possible objections - for instance "But I want to raise cows!" I see Geoff Lawton raising cows amidst a growing forest, where forest seems to be the most important and favored piece of the tapestry of his land. Are there other examples to show to people who want to raise livestock that it can be done in a forest system?
Here's an example I wonder about: Here on permies I see folks in moist climates struggling to keep their pastures from turning to forest, so they can raise grazing animals. Grazing animals are the least efficient at turning forage into flesh, and pasture systems are among the less efficient at sequestering carbon. Aquaculture (ponds) are among the most efficient systems at producing food, especially protein. Wouldn't a system of ponds within a forest be a more efficient and carbon-sequestering model of food production than grazers on pasture? Why is this design not implemented more often? So many of the alternative models for protein production seem to be clinging to the pasture - is this because of our cow-based diet, or some other reason?
Here in Scotland, vast swathes of privately-owned land are given over to three things: sheep, grouse moor and deer, all of which are massively overpopulated, in the interests of rich landowners, at the expense of massive public subsidy, as well as increasing soil compaction (in the case especially of sheep) and discouraging reforestation. In England the problem is skewed towards sheep. Another consequence of this is flooding, since rainfall can't soak into the soil, which is only going to get worse with climate disruption, because of the increased incidence of extremely heavy rain.
There is a push here towards both reforestation and rewilding (and the two camps are in the process of more or less formal merging), but it's coming up against those vested interests. Even the beaver reintroduction has run into problems because the landowners object to them eating fish. Yes, we really are facing that kind of willful stupidity.
As you correctly point out, one of the "justifications" for grazing is that these habitats would quickly revert to forest. Well, yeah, fine. That goes for my backyard as much as it does yours. Being able to eat meat because they want to "preserve" these impoverished habitats in order to keep eating meat turns into a circular argument.
Then there is the question of supplementary feeding. Around 70% of the world's grain and 90% of the world's soya goes to feed livestock. It's true most of this is going to intensive feedlot-type arrangements, but even here grass-fed cattle still get supplementary feed. I imagine the same is true where you are. How many Permies feed their chickens purely off scratch and kitchen scraps?
Let's reforest 50-80% of the grain and soya land and cut right back on the meat production. Let's convert those grasslands to forest - some of it semi-natural, some of it food forest, and cut out the carbon dioxide and methane from the livestock in the process. Win-win-win.
Where you need to be cautious is the question of ponds. I have not done a proper literature survey, but here is one from your neck of the woods. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10661-013-3474-y#/page-1 In a study comparing forests with conventional crop land with ponds, the conventional crop land was better at storing carbon than the ponds, but the forest was better than both. I agree there is a place for ponds in forests, just as I think there is a place for open glades, but they should not be overstated as carbon reservoirs.