I recently came across Costa Boutsikaris' series on Vimeo. To quote his website, Woodlanders is:
... an online film series that seeks to document the work of people who care for and depend on forests for their livelihood and well-being throughout the world.
Even among today's progressive movements of local economy and food systems, the vast global knowledge of forest livelihoods and economies are mostly undervalued and undocumented. From woodcraft and nut tree cultures of ancient Europe, to mushroom and forest medicines of Asia, there many fascinating ways of creating sustainable economies from the forests while maintaining their ecological health and complexity... Sustainable relationships with forests regenerate and protect these wild places while also offering livelihoods to humans. Each episode will focus on a person or culture who has a sustainable relationship and/or livelihood with a forest.
I've watched all of the episodes, some more than once, and I can't recommend them highly enough. Each one is informative, well filmed and edited, and provide an insight into how people in the UK, USA and Scandinavia derive a livelihood from managing woodland sustainably/traditionally/ecologically. Permaculture is mentioned in at least one of the episodes to my recollection
Below is the first of twelve (so far) episodes. My personal favourites are the episodes on willow coffins, the ash pack basket, and the community woodland.
I should also mention that Costa's Woodlanders project is being entirely funded through a Patreon campaign and is free from adverts or any form of sponsorship.
I'm using a mobile phone. For some reason, the text in this thread is smaller and quite narrow along the left side of my screen. I suspect it has something to do with whether or not the video is embedded.
Michael Adams wrote:YES!!! Thank you very much for posting this! This is an excellent series, beautifully photographed and incredibly inspiring! The gang in EP. 7....you all seriously ROCK.
This is some of the best content I've seen in a very long time.
Aye, I've known of Tinker's Bubble for quite some time now, and had heard of their steam powered saw mill, but watching the video is the first time I've seen the community in action as it were. Very inspiring stuff!
Dale Hodgins wrote:Do you have any links to videos that show extractive uses that are sustainable? I'm always more interested in that sort, rather than those of a purely educational nature. It sure seems to be well filmed. I've gone on a few YouTube Benders recently and the production quality is not generally this high. Nowhere near that high.
It depends on how you want to define 'extractive' and 'sustainable' I suppose... Would you mind elaborating? It might help me to fulfill your request for a video!
In flatter areas that freeze solid in the winter, horses can leave very little trace.
I honestly can't see there being a more sustainable and permie method of log extraction than by using draught horses.
I think it really depends on how you define "sustainable" and "permie" — on-site grazed horses are a great way to extract logs without petroleum, but they are certainly more destructive to the forest than track-based machines. Horses have a much heavier footprint on the ground than tracks do (since tracks distribute the weight), but the biggest part of the equation is skidding the log along the ground. You need to clear a track in the woods (since you're pulling out the whole tree), which means taking more trees. The log is then scraped along the topsoil, totally destroying all vegetation along the path. If this is on any kind of sloped terrain, the skidding means you've opened yourself up to erosion and need to start thinking about installing water bars once you're done. Since you don't have a machine to pick it up and de-branch it, that means many of the branches you couldn't reach end up at the landing site, instead of where the tree was growing, displacing organic matter.
Then there's the reality of most horses — almost none are fed via on-site grazing, they're usually fed from imported hay (and thus imported seeds to your woodland, too). The petroleum requirements for growing, bailing, and transportation of the hay start to add up when you consider how many horses and horse-hours you'll need to extract each log. A very small tractor still pulls in around 15 horse-power. And of course, most horses are trucked in from somewhere else. The transportation costs (in terms of petroleum) of moving a couple horses are very similar to that of bringing in a track-hoe. The costs of bringing in more than a dozen horses are usually much higher than bringing in heavy equipment.
CTL on the other hand, usually requires one track hoe and one small tractor with a trailer, is capable of leaving ground vegetation almost entirely in-tact, leaves all slash in-place, can move through much tighter spaces (since the logs are cut), and can remove a year's harvest of trees in a couple hours. The one huge downside is definitely the petroleum needed, and it's obviously much easier to measure since it's a direct cost (vs indirect like hay). And of course, forests are extremely resilient — they require a cycle of destruction to thrive properly. Reduction in environmental damage is not always optimal if you are looking into the long-term health of the forest.
I think the most permie way to me would be one in which we utilize these machines, but get their power from somewhere else — biodiesel, solar+electric, or harvested fuel from compost piles ala Jean Pain. Then follow up each harvest with controlled burns in the fall. This would leave topsoil in-tact while also leaving the cycle of "high-frequency low-intensity" fires that result in the thriving forests of old. This of course also totally depends on the scale that you're logging. Are you dragging out dozens of 150ft trees for lumber production, or a couple smaller trees for a new porch?
Obviously a horse wouldn't be used for removing anything at a dangerous incline. In my forest experience, clearing a logging path is desired not only for selective removal management and future treatments, but they create paths for walking and enjoyment. Horse poop is pretty good for growing things too. Perhaps a draught horse or 2 has a heavier physical footprint than a track, but when factoring 'everything' in, a tractor leaves the bigger ecological footprint at the end of the day.
Personally, I can't envision a high volume timber operation (i.e. a typical logging cut) done in a truly permie way. Current logging operations are 99% clearcuts anyways.