Beech Trees – First Step Towards Woodland Renewal
When my brother Tom came to visit, I had asked him to bring a book on forestry that I knew he had. It is called “Trees – Yearbook of Agriculture 1949″. My Dad had gotten it from Goodwill a few years back and gave it to me as a present for Christmas. I was not interested in it at the time, so I passed it on to Tom. Funny how things change.
Our property has a history of select cutting. Where trees were taken out, the character of the forest was changed. I am interested in making it more healthy. I already knew about the importance of cutting vines and rose bushes that choke healthy trees to death, but I knew there was so much more to be learned. I started reading it right away – jumping to the sections that interested me most. Almost immediately, I could see that our land was telling me things, no, shouting things to me that only a trained eye would recognize.
For example, I noticed that we have an abundance of young beech trees in our woodlands. You can see them in the picture. They are the ones with the brown leaves still on the branches — even now in December. I was curious why we had so many seedlings of one specific variety. Tulip trees (also known as Yellow Poplar) are also germinating easily in our woods.
What I’ve learned from this book is that some tree’s seeds germinate better in shade than others — and beech trees germinate well in shade. Beech trees also thrive in rich, moist soil. The beech trees are definitely concentrated in a few select areas. Is the soil not “rich or moist enough” in those other areas? Is there too much shade? Too much sun? Inquiring minds want to know.
Select cutting changes the character of the woodlands in ways that you might not predict. It does this by altering the temperature of the soil and the soil moisture as more light is let in when mature trees are culled. The end result may be an increased death rate of trees beyond what was select cut. Some reasons for this are:
“Freed wind movement may increase the rate at which water is evaporated from leaves and needles, thus upsetting the physiological process in the tree. Mechanical injury to roots from severe bending as falling trees strike some of their neighbors is another contributor to an increased death rate”.
I am still not sure which tree species they select cut — I am not good at recognizing tree bark yet from the felled tree remains. I can only guess that it is oak because of the popularity of oak furniture, cabinets, etc. But before, where we did not have an abundance of beech trees, in the future we will. Our woodlands is changed. Different, yes. Worse, I don’t know yet. One thing is for sure – variety is good and when you lose variety in tree species, you lose variety in wildlife.
I can see all this now. Education is a powerful tool for change. With my new eyes, I will now be able to help shape the future of our woodlands. “Life is and Adventure”.