Two MacArthur grants spotlight interplay of trees and climate

The MacArthur Foundation awarded “genius” grants this year to A. Park Williams, a hydroclimatologist who is developing a wildfire forecasting model after studying climate change and tree mortality, and Lucy Hutyra, an environmental ecologist whose studies show that conserving urban forest fragments helps mitigate local impacts of climate change.

Soil, people, landforms are factors in tree diversity

For more than 200 years, scientists have known that tree diversity — the number of different types of trees found near each other — is highest near the equator and diminishes moving into the middle and higher latitudes. The conventional explanation for this decline in local species richness has been temperature and precipitation.

How many species of trees? 73,000 worldwide

Some 64,000 species of trees are known worldwide, but that's nowhere close to the real number, according to a research project involving 100 scientists worldwide. In a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists estimate 9,400 species are yet to be discovered.

Enviva, a giant in wood pellets, shifts tree-sourcing policy

Enviva, the largest industrial wood-pellet manufacturer in the world, launched what it calls an “enhanced and expanded global sourcing policy” last week in partnership with Earthworm Foundation, a non-profit that helps businesses reform their supply chains. The announcement came a few weeks after the publication of a report by FERN, in collaboration with The Weather Channel, spotlighting the company’s environmental practices.

Harvesting American forests for the EU’s ‘green’ electricity plants

Wood-processing plants around the South are turning trees into pellets and then exporting them to be burned in electricity plants in the EU. It's part of the EU's initiative to generate "green" electricity, but scientists question whether burning trees is really carbon neutral, according to FERN's latest story with The Weather Channel.(No paywall)

Climate change could kill half of California’s vegetation

Research by UC-Davis says that half of California’s vegetation is at risk of dying from global warming by the end of the century, reported Capital Public Radio.

Rural Americans want a public lands transfer because they can’t get a public-lands job

The reason Americans rarely take timber jobs in public forests isn’t because they don’t like to work hard. It’s because a combination of immigration laws, tight federal budgets and divisive politics have turned forestry jobs into little more than low-paid servitude, writes Hal Herring in FERN’s story [LINK] with High Country News.

Will USDA approve a GE tree for forestry use?

The USDA is nearing a decision whether to deregulate a eucalyptus tree that is genetically engineered to tolerate freezing weather for use in tree plantations. It "would become the first genetically engineered tree approved for commercial use in the United States," says the Washington Post.

Indonesia extends for two years its moratorium on forestland conversion

For the third time, Indonesia has extended its moratorium on issuing licenses to clear forests and peat land, says Reuters. The nation's environment and forestry minister told the news agency the extension will run for two years and allow officials time to develop regulations on forest use.

Tree deaths double in California this year during drought

Some 62 million trees have died so far this year in California, said USDA, blaming the losses on drought, warmer than usual weather and insect damage. The losses, up by 36 million from a survey earlier this year, are double the losses reported in 2015.

Satellite monitoring tracks forest loss, says green group

A new satellite-based monitoring system can spot logging of endangered forests in as little time as a week, depending on cloud cover, says the environmental group World Resources Institute.

Warmer climate stresses sugar maple trees

The tree sap used in making maple syrup contains half as much sugar as it did in the 1950s and 1960s in the forests of New England, says National Geographic. "The sugar maple is stressed to the point of decline and many scientists studying this beloved tree believe rising temperatures are the cause."

Drought’s impact on trees lasts two to four years

A worldwide study found that trees need two to four years to recover from drought and resume normal growth rates, which means forests would not store as much carbon as climate models have assumed, says the University of Utah.