The Treeflights blog

Two chaps with a passion for trees in dotcom startup drama

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hearts of oak?

I’ve just finished Colin Tudge’s remarkable book ‘The secret life of trees’.

He postulates a world that uses biological methods (timber) to create the majority of the materials we need in our day to day lives, instead of the current energy-hungry processes like smelting steel, making cement and fabricating plastics. Just think how much CO2 a city built of wood might fix!

The U.K’s record in planting for timber is miserable. Since the last war, the forestry commission has planted huge areas of non-native sitka spruce, to the detriment of flora and fauna. The head of the FC claims that they have ‘increased the U.K’s forest cover to 10%.’

A thousand years ago, The U.K was covered in forest.
When will The Forestry Commission wake up and begin a massive planting program of native trees?

Below is a stinging response to the chairmen of the Forestry Commission’s letter published in ‘the independent’ recently-

Sir: Tim Rollinson (Letters, 30 January) claims the Forestry Commission has been growing trees for timber for 100 years, and implies that the FC forests are a source of useful building timber. This has never been the FC's remit.
The original aim was softwood for pit-props and paper pulp. After the shortages of the First World War, it was decided to make a "strategic reserve" of such timber, for these uses (coal and propaganda). After the Second World War, this need receded. A new rationale for coniferisation was invented, the economic appraisal, an excellent example of total economics gobbledegook. Basically, only huge state subsidy would induce private landowners to coniferise.
Later, other rationales emerged, employment and recreational benefits, wildlife benefits; and recently even red squirrel conversation. The FC gave forestation an absolutely terrible image. So now the head of the FC states that the FC forests can be used for building (zero carbon) housing.
These conifer species grow excessively quickly in the (ever warmer) UK climate - great for pit-props and paper pulp, but absolutely useless for building. The FC should drop, or be made to drop, this obsessive conifer programme and plant with native trees now, ideally in naturalistic planting patterns, rather than cramming them 6ft apart in rows.
There is also an increasingly urgent need to replant the deforested and extensively sheep- and deer-grazed uplands of the UK. How can we preach to Brazil about deforestation, when we have this blindness to the destruction of our own native wildwood forests, for wool and money?

Friday, December 15, 2006

The tree that changed the world

New research using climate modeling by Ken Caldiera has come up with a new theory;

That trees in the northern hemisphere actually do more harm than good, by heating the earth more than than the cooling effect of their absorption of Carbon Dioxide (C).

Fine- But consider this. Most of the land surface of the Earth is in the northern hemisphere, and when the deciduous trees in North America, Europe and Asia all 'breathe in' in spring, (an effect talked about in 'An Inconvenient Truth') they inhale a vast amount of C, which they proceed to fix. Measurements of atmospheric C in winter and again in summer show the enormous effect they have.

Does Ken propose to chop these forests down because they're heating the planet?
Because, if you follow his argument through, thats what we should be doing..

The Carboniferous period was dominated by trees, specifically Archaeopteris, the first true tree. Its unique qualities created a thick layer of coal and oil over MILLIONS of years- The one we're mining now and spewing into the atmosphere.

Stephen Scheckler, a professor of biology and geological sciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, says, "When [Archaeopteris] appears, it very quickly became the dominant tree all over the Earth. On all of the land areas that were habitable, they all had this tree".

This ancient tree played the major role in creating a breathable atmosphere, the oxygen that has enabled me to write this piece.
The point is that what Archaeopteris started, modern trees can do again, It's just a question of scale!


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

May a thousand saplings grow...

Treeflights are proud to announce our 1000th tree planted!

On a rainy December day, Ru planted a young oak. We've covered a good area in saplings now in our full range of species. The weather has been generally awful, but it hasn't stopped the team. We duck heavy showers in the Treeflights truck, a early convert to LPG (liquid petroleum gas) then pop out to plant again.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Treeflights go Bio-Char?

What the devil is Bio-Char? Well, it could be an angel.

Simply put, it means- buried charcoal.

Biochar is a development of Terra Preta de Indio, -dark soil- found in the Amazon region. These dark soils are found in several countries in South America. They were most likely created by pre-Columbian Indians from 500 to 2500 years B.P. and abandoned after the invasion of Europeans.

These mysterious earths are abundantly rich and deep, containing very high Carbon & nutrient levels even after hundreds of years. The high nutrient levels mean that no fertilizers are needed for crops, which grow better and faster. Dark soils heat up and crop earlier. The implications are enormous.

This is renewable agriculture that also stores carbon!

Treeflights are considering all the options to ‘lock up’ carbon from timber and this could present an answer.

More soon-

Saturday, October 28, 2006

More wonderful facts about trees and CO2

I've Just found this piece on carbon fixation by our friends, the trees. it turns out that when you take the oxygen into account the tree is actually fixing an amount of CO2 that is more than its own weight!
It comes from the National Science foundation so perhaps we can believe it?

'..We find that about 45% of the dry mass (not including the water) of a tree comes from carbon. In other words,
a 100 Kilogramm log of a tree that has been completely dried contains about 45 kilograms of stored carbon.

While each kilogram of dried tree is storing .45 kilograms of carbon, it is removing more than a kilogram of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is because each carbon dioxide molecule contains two oxygen atoms....
this means that each CO2 molecule has an atomic mass of 12+2(16)=44, of which only 12 are due to the carbon. Therfore, for each atom of carbon stored in the tree, 44 atomic mass units of CO2 is removed from the atmosphere. This means that each kilogram of dried tree corresponds to-

(1kg of dried tree) x (.45 kg of C/1 kg) x 44 amu of CO2/12 AMU of C) = 1.65 kg of CO2.'

AMU= Atomic Mass Units.

From- ESA 21, National Science foundation.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fun Plant Facts: Treeflights Website Offers Plan to Plant Trees to Help Reduce Global Warming

Fun Plant Facts: Treeflights Website Offers Plan to Plant Trees to Help Reduce Global Warming

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Industrial Global Warmer

Theres been a lot of talk about how the U.K is responsible for such a small percentage of global emmissons that investment in renewables (such as windpower) makes no sense- The savings being in an order of 1% of 1% of global totals. But that is to forget the part that Britain has played in Global warming, because, ITS ALL OUR FAULT.

Oh Yes. Heard of the industrial revolution? That was us. Steam engine? Woops. Actually I blame the Scots for inventing virtually every machine that used coal. Of course, if we hadn’t started it, some other enterprising culture would have. But as a politically stable, properous country that has stripped the world of it’s resources for hundreds of years, we must take the lead in radically altering our attitude.

A short list of Scots Inventors and inventions

• A steam car (steam engine): William Murdoch (1754-1839)
• Macadam roads: John Loudon McAdam (1756-1836)
• Driving on the left: Determined by a Scottish-inspired Act of Parliament in 1772
Civil Engineering Innovations
• Bridge design: Thomas Telford (1757-1834) & John Rennie (1761-1821)
• Suspension bridge improvements: Sir Samuel Brown (1776-1852)
• Tubular steel: Sir William Fairbairn (1789-1874)
Canals & Docks
• Canal design: Thomas Telford (1757-1834)
• Dock design: John Rennie (1761-1821)
• The patent slip for docking vessels: Thomas Morton (1781-1832)
• Crane design: James Bremner (1784-1856)
• Lighthouse design: Robert Stevenson (1772-1850)
• The Drummond Light: Thomas Drummond (1797-1840)
Power Innovations
• Steam engine improvements: James Watt (1736-1819)
• Coal-gas lighting: William Murdock (1754-1839)
• The Stirling heat engine: Rev. Robert Stirling (1790-1878)
Shipbuilding Innovations
• The steamship paddle wheel: Patrick Miller (1731-1815)
• The steam boat: William Symington (1763-1831)
• Europe's first passenger steamboat: Henry Bell (1767-1830)
• The first iron-hulled steamship: Sir William Fairbairn (1789-1874)
Other Scottish shipbuilding firsts:
• The first all-steel ship
• The first steel ship to cross the Atlantic
• The first paddle steamer to cross the Atlantic
• The first ship to cross the Atlantic in less than a week
• The first all-welded ship
• The first merchant ship to run on oil
• The first set of triple-expansion engines for a twin-screw steamer
• The first ship to be fitted with two engines
• The first steam whaler
Heavy Industry Innovations
• The carronade cannon: Robert Melville (1723-1809)
• Making cast steel from wrought iron: David Mushet (1772-1847)
• Wrought iron sash bars for glass houses: John C. Loudon (1783-1865)
• The hot blast oven: James Beaumont Neilson (1792-1865)
• The steam hammer: James Nasmyth (1808-1890)
• Wire rope: Robert Stirling Newall (1812-1889)
• Steam engine improvements: William Mcnaught (1831-1881)
• The Fairlie, a Narrow gauge, double-bogey railway engine: Robert Francis Fairlie (1831-1885)