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Education
PanAmerican Properties Blog
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Geoengineering: Can Humans Reverse Climate Change?
Topic: Education

by: Jasmine Greene

Tags: , , , , Geoengineering techniques have been around since 1965 when scientists suggested spreading reflective material over the ocean to bounce back 1% sunlight back to space [Source: Scientific America]. Unfortunately this idea was complete bunk, but Geoengineering has been gaining traction recently due to rising temperatures. There are currently two different geoengineering techniques: solar radiation management and carbon sequestering.

Solar radiation management, while potentially the fastest way to cool the planet, also is temporary and could potentially have many side effects. One of the proposals currently being discussed is the creation of manmade volcanic eruptions. Sulfide gases would  be injected into the stratosphere every one to four years, providing the earth with a “grace period” of up to 20 years before major cutbacks in greenhouse gas emissions would be required [Source:
UCAR]. Unfortunately, this technique could thin the ozone layer if enough aerosol is injected into polar stratospheric clouds. Other negative effects include changing weather patterns, drought, acid rain and respiratory problems in humans. If done properly, however, this technique could potentially drop average temperatures 0.6 degrees Celsius [Source: 21st Century Challenges]. A less risky solar radiation management plan involves whitening of marine clouds. Ocean spray is released into the atmosphere to increase the reflectiveness of clouds. The extra changes the size of the water particles in existing clouds, making them whiter. This technique can be stopped at any time and is part of the natural process of "ocean spray". It can be deployed quickly and rolled out cheaply and effectively, though it could potentially interfere with wind and weather patterns [Source: Guardian]. This problem also does not address ocean acidification or ways to actually decrease the amount of CO2.

While solar radiation management only looks at decreasing overall temperature, carbon sequestration looks for ways to decrease overall CO2 levels. Iron deposition into the ocean is one method of carbon sequestration. The iron encourages phytoplankton growth, which removes carbon from the atmosphere, potentially on a permanent basis. While this sounds promising, there is no way to predict how this could affect marine life and nutrient balance in the ocean and could lead to poisonous algae spread [Source:
Spiegel]. There are two methods of geoengineering that do not have harmful side effects:reforestation/afforestation and biochar. Reforestation is the process of replanting trees in cleared areas and afforestation is planting trees in areas that were never forest or haven't been for years. Currently, deforestation accounts for 25% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions [Source: Monga Bay]. While planting trees would help to decrease the amount of CO2, the time it takes for trees to regrow and biomass to rebuild is significant. Reforestation could be used alongside biochar. Biochar is charcoal made through pyrolysis of biomass, which is then buried and mixed with normal soil. Not only does it make the soil fertile, it holds potential for long-term carbon storage, possibly for millennia. Craig Sams, founder of Carbon Gold, believes biochar could potentially reduce CO2 levels to pre-industrial levels by 2050 if it were used in 2.5% of the world's agricultural fertilizer [Source: Popular Mechanics]. Biochar is easily measured, making it great to figure out effectiveness of its carbon sequestration and it is at much lower risk of returning to the atmosphere than living organisms since it is mainly inert [Source: Treehugger].

 While many of the "quick-fix" geoengineering proposals have many negative side effects, they are mostly presented in worst-case scenario and are generally temporary. The more long-term solutions like reforestation and the usage of biochar may work better, but it takes longer to see the effects. Either way, no geoengineering technique will be effective if the average global carbon emission does not decrease.

One program using the model of reforestation and biochar is the Enoch Olinga College (ENOCIS) agricultural extension program “New Era Farms” in Panama dedicated to using paulownia to teach peoples of extreme poverty alternate income sources for their farms.

Read more: reforestation, geoengineering, biochar, environment & wildlife, paulownia, ENOCIS

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Posted by panampro at 3:03 PM CDT
Wednesday, 2 June 2010
Study Finds Reforestation May Lower the Climate Change Mitigation Potential of Forests
Topic: Education

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,   Scientists at the University of Oklahoma and the Fudan University in Shanghai, China, have found that reforestation and afforestation - the creation of new forests - may lower the potential of forests for climate change lessening.

Yiqi Luo, professor of ecology in the OU College of Arts and Sciences Department of Botany and Microbiology, and Changzhang Liao, Bo Li and Changming Fang, professors of ecology in the Fudon University Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, examined whether plantations have the same ecosystem carbon stock as natural forests.

By synthesizing 86 experimental studies between plantations and their natural forest counterparts, Luo and colleagues found plantations substantially reduce carbon stock in ecosystems in comparison with natural forests.

'That decrease in ecosystem carbon stock should be accounted for, together with other forest products such as the harvested wood, when the total mitigation of reforestation is evaluated,' said Luo.

This study challenges the idea that planting non-native or native-improved growth species on historical forest land yields greater carbon accumulations rates. They argue against the replacement of natural forests by reforestation, also known as plantations, to help stave off climate change.

Plantations established on non-forested fields such as agricultural lands do help with the control of carbon emissions; however, converting farmland to forests decreases the amount of carbon absorbed by the soil. Another form of gas, methane, also is affected by the conversion. Converted soil loses 80 percent of capability to degrade methane as compared to natural forests when it is developed as a plantation.

To minimize negative effects of plantation, appropriate forest management practices need to be adopted. Site preparation without burning, for example, leads to less soil carbon loss than that with burning. To avoid ecosystem degradation associated with plantations, restoration measures need to be implemented to engineer ecosystems toward their natural potentials.

'The shifts from natural forests to plantations can also generate other ecological problems,' writes Luo. 'For example, soil bulk density, representing the degree of soil compaction, increases, possibly leading to limitation of rooting systems and destruction of soil structure in plantations. Additionally, plantations decrease stream flow.

'On the positive side, plantations can provide commodities for human needs (e.g., timber, biomass). Therefore, we are now facing a great challenge of developing a management policy for plantation practice that minimizes their negative impacts on ecosystems but maximizes their commodity values.'

One project using these techniques in Panama is New Era Farms, the agricultural extension program of the Enoch Olinga College (ENOCIS). To read more about their reforestation efforts with paulownia refer to www.paulownianow.org or to invest in this type of program you can read www.panampro.com

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Posted by panampro at 11:11 AM CDT
Monday, 24 May 2010
Long-distance seed dispersal and hunting, an interview with Kimberly Holbrook
Topic: Education

Jeremy Hance May 24, 2010

Tags: , , , , , ,

As we are leaving the week focusing on biodiversity and the rapidly increasing speed of the extinction of the species, it may be important to explore the role of diverse species to p`rotect the evironment.  Scientists are just beginning to uncover the complex relationship between healthy biodiverse tropical forests and seed dispersers—species that spread seeds from a parent tree to other parts of the forest including birds, rodents, primates, and even elephants. By its very nature this relationship consists of an incredibly high number of variables: how abundant are seed dispersers, which animals spread seeds the furthest, what species spread which seeds, how are human impacts like hunting and deforestation impacting successful dispersal, as well as many others. Dr. Kimberly Holbrook has begun to answer some of these questions.

Performing her Masters works in Cameroon, Holbrook explained in an interview leading up to the 5th Frugivore and Seed Dispersal International Symposium, how she discovered that African forest hornbills spread seeds much further than expected.

"They have very large home ranges that varied between 925 hectares to more than 4,000 hectares. These home ranges are much larger than those reported for other African avian frugivores as well as all earlier estimates of African hornbill home ranges," Holbrook says, adding that "these two species of forest hornbill engage in landscape-scale movements travelling up to 290 kilometers over a two to three month period."

These findings are important because they show that hornbills are capable of carrying seeds incredible distances—i.e. long-distance dispersal—from parent trees, aiding forest diversity by carrying species to new areas. Think of the hornbills as the boats which carried the Polynesians from one far-flung island to another: without birds or other long distance dispersers a tree species could become stuck in an ecosystem 'island'.

"Long-distance dispersal is also fundamental to the spread and survival of plant populations and contributes to gene flow between populations," explains Holbrook. "Another advantage is that long-distance dispersers enable plant offspring to sample larger areas creating the opportunity to escape host-specific pathogens and reduce kin competition. Finally, long-distance dispersers may facilitate arrival of rare species and colonization to gaps, thus helping contribute to forest regeneration." Holbrook believes African hornbills travel such distances in order to follow fruiting trees.

On the other side of the world, Holbrook studied how human impacts affect seed dispersers and, in turn, the entire forest, including our impact on long-distance dispersals.

"In Ecuador I studied fruit removal and effective dispersal (or recruitment) distances at two sites that differed in hunting pressure. In the site with high hunting pressure, I found that significantly fewer numbers of large frugivores were visiting fruiting trees and that overall fewer seeds were removed from trees based upon seed trap data," Holbrook says.

She also found evidence that seeds traveled twice as far in the non-hunted sites, showing that intensive hunting targets the large fruit-eating species, such as big birds and primates, which are capable of carrying seeds the furthest.

"Seed dispersal is one of the many very important ecological processes that not only impact the ecology of forests and dispersers, but also the evolutionary relationships that exist there. For approximately 60-90 percent of tropical woody plant species, seed dispersal is a critical service essential for spread and survival," Holbrook says.

Despite the complexities of seed dispersal ecology, the lesson is quite simple: without seed dispersers, and especially long-distance marathon dispersers, the structure of the forest will change forever.

In a May 2010 interview with Kimberly Holbrook about the ecology of seed dispersal, the increasing importance of hornbills and toucans, the difficulties of estimating an economic value for seed dispersal, and human how hunting and deforestation impact successful dispersal.

How did you become interested in rainforest ecology?

Kimberly Holbrook: I first became interested in tropical forest ecology when I travelled for a year in Southeast Asia, India, and China. My first view of a rainforest was while travelling by ship up the west coast of Sumatra. I was completely captivated by the apparent diversity and complexity of the forest. Upon finishing my undergraduate degree, I took a volunteer position working with hornbills in Cameroon where I had my first opportunity to learn about the importance of ecological relationships in tropical forests. Given my interests in birds, plants, and seed dispersal, it made perfect sense to pursue plant-animal interactions in the tropics.

Any advice for students interested in studying rainforests?

Kimberly Holbrook: My first bit of advice is to go to the rainforest!! Get a job—even if it is to volunteer—or take a tropical ecology field course so you can have an idea of what the environment is like. It will also give you a chance to start thinking about the kinds of questions you might develop as a student. I think that the best way to find out what kinds of organisms and ecological interactions are most interesting is through direct experience.

Seed dispersal is one of the many very important ecological processes that not only impact the ecology of forests and dispersers, but also the evolutionary relationships that exist there. For approximately 60-90% of tropical woody plant species, seed dispersal is a critical service essential for spread and survival. For countless animal species, tropical tree fruits provide the necessary food and nutrition to survive and reproduce. Figs, for example, are especially important in providing food, often during non-fruiting seasons when other food sources are unavailable or much reduced. Other fruits such as those in the Myristicaceae (nutmegs) and Lauraceae (avocados) families provide high quality lipid-rich nutrition, crucial for many rainforest animals.

What is the 'seed shadow'? How do you determine this for fruit-eating species like hornbills?

Kimberly Holbrook: The seed shadow is the spatial distribution or pattern of seeds that are dispersed from fruiting plants. Determining where in the landscape that the next generation will establish, the seed shadow can vary greatly depending on the dispersal mechanism that a particular plant species relies upon. Technically, a seed shadow is a representation of the dispersal pattern generated by all visiting frugivores. To determine a specific frugivore-generated seed shadow, as I have done with hornbills and toucans, you would need to collect data on animal movements and on seed retention times. Animal movement patterns are usually estimated using radio telemetry and seed retention can be calculated with captive feeding trials where regurgitation and/or defecation times are measured. These two types of data are then combined to tell us the probability of the frugivore dispersing a seed to a particular distance. The result is a two dimensional curve showing probability of seed deposition plotted against distance dispersed.

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Posted by panampro at 5:06 PM CDT
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Collapsing Biodiversity is a 'Wake-up Call for Humanity'
Topic: Education

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
May 10, 2010

Tags: , , , , , A joint report released today by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Environment Program (UNEP) finds that our natural support systems are on the verge of collapsing unless radical changes are made to preserve the world's biodiversity. Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ahmed Djoghlaf, called the bleak report "a wake-up call for humanity."

The report is the third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3). Employing scientific assessments and 110 government reports, the report confirms that governments around the world have failed in their 2002 pledge to reduce biodiversity loss by this year. Instead, the five biggest causes behind biodiversity loss—habitat destruction, over-exploitation of resources, pollution, invasive species, and climate change—have either worsened or stayed the same.

"We need a new vision for biological diversity for a healthy planet and a sustainable future for humankind," Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, said.

In addition the report warns that several ecosystems are heading toward tipping points from which they may never recover. Due to a combination of climate change, deforestation, and fires, the Amazon rainforest may change irrevocably; while coral reefs are being pounded by overfishing, warmer waters, and ocean acidification; finally freshwater ecosystems like lakes and rivers are losing biodiversity and abundance due to nutrient runoff.

"Business as usual is no longer an option if we are to avoid irreversible damage to the life-support systems of our planet," Djoghlaf said.

Officials are increasingly comparing the current biodiversity crisis to the global economic meltdown of 2008-2009, stating that while governments moved quickly to tackle the economic crisis they have responded languidly to the many threats to the world's environmental systems. These systems underpin the human economy by providing food, clean water, pollination, pest control, buffers from natural disasters, medicine, and carbon sequestration to name a few of their natural goods, known to researchers as 'ecosystem services'.

"For a fraction of the money summoned up instantly to avoid economic meltdown, we can avoid a much more serious and fundamental breakdown in the Earth’s life support systems," write the report's authors.

Yet, Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the UNEP, says that "many economies remain blind to the huge value of the diversity of animals, plants and other life forms and their role in healthy and functioning ecosystems from forests and freshwaters to soils, oceans and even the atmosphere."

The report calls on governments to begin considering biodiversity when taking action. Governments should directly address the causes behind biodiversity loss including consumption, demographic changes, and trade. Ending harmful subsidies is also suggested.

"To tackle the root causes of biodiversity loss, we must give it higher priority in all areas of decision-making and in all economic sectors," says Ban Ki-Moon.

Ending biodiversity loss will help in the fight against poverty and hunger, while improving human health, security, and wealth for the current and future generations, according to the report.

The report will be a focal point for the Nagoya Biodiversity Summit in October, which will be attended by all 193 parties of the CBD. One of the world's largest economies, the United States, is not a member. The only other political entities that have not ratified the treaty are the Vatican and Andorra.

In spite of the report, business continues as usual worldwide with, for example, New Zealand attempting to push through a plan to allow mining in protected areas; US congress proposing to give 85,000 acres of old-growth temperate rainforest to a logging company in Alaska; Brazil moving ahead on its controversial Belo Monte dam that would flood 500 square miles of rainforest; and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) failing to protect a single marine species in its most recent meeting.

"Humanity has fabricated the illusion that somehow we can get by without biodiversity or that it is somehow peripheral to our contemporary world: the truth is we need it more than ever on a planet of six billion heading to over nine billion people by 2050," says Steiner.

(05/04/2010) Most people who are trying to change the world stick to one area, for example they might either work to preserve biodiversity in rainforests or do social justice with poor farmers. But Dr. Ivette Perfecto was never satisfied with having to choose between helping people or preserving nature. Professor of Ecology and Natural Resources at the University of Michigan and co-author of the recent book Nature’s Matrix: The Link between Agriculture, Conservation and Food Sovereignty, Perfecto has, as she says, "combined her passions" to understand how agriculture can benefit both farmers and biodiversity—if done right.

Similar to this effort is The Enoch Olinga College (ENOCIS) Panama project New Era Farms located in the Republic of Panama which reforests with paulownia and teaches peoples of extreme poverty alternate uses of their farms to increase their income. For more information on this project you might read www.paulownianow.org

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Posted by panampro at 8:43 AM CDT
Saturday, 8 May 2010
Second Annual Forest Carbon Offsetting Report Results
Topic: Education

Tags: , , , , , , ,    Climatebiz and EcoSecurities

A source in DUBLIN, Ireland has stated — when it comes to purchasing carbon offsets, a growing number of companies are thinking -- and acting -- about forestry projects as a desirable type of offset to invest in.

The results come from the second annual Forest Carbon Offsetting Report, produced by EcoSecurities with Conservation International, The Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance, ClimateBiz and the Norton Rose Group.

The report, which focuses on corporations' attitudes towards carbon offsets from forestry projects, found positive attitudes toward forest offset projects from 80 percent of respondents, up from 58 percent in 2009.

"Forestry has always been at the center of international climate change negotiations," said Paul Kelly, the CEO of EcoSecurities. "It's hugely encouraging to see that despite the lack of clarity which still surrounds impending regulation the majority of survey respondents have a very positive attitude to forestry and are actively seeking ways to reduce GHGs and mitigate climate change through forest carbon offsets."

Some of the key findings include: 

  • Positive attitudes towards forest carbon offsetting have increased in the past year, with nearly 80% of respondents having a ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ attitude compared to only 58% in 2009;
  • In particular, the most significant change in attitude was from Europe where 84% of participants claim to have a ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ attitude compared to 36% in 2009;
  • Participants highlighted the most important factor when purchasing forest carbon offsets are carbon standards (89%), closely followed by project location (84%), project type (80%) and the projects’ ability to generate additional community and biodiversity benefits (83% & 77% respectively);
  • Reforestation with native species (89%) and avoided deforestation (78%) were rated the most desirable types of forestry project;
  • South America (74%) was the most sought-after region from which to purchase forest carbon credits;
  • The Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) and Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards were the two most popular carbon standards (73% and 64% respectively).

"Forestry promises to be a powerful and cost-effective tool in the fight against climate change," said ClimateBiz Managing Editor, Matthew Wheeland. "Corporate offset buyers recognise this potential, and show little sign of declining enthusiasm for forestry, despite the regulatory uncertainty."

"Many of these findings accord with our experience of what is happening on the ground with early stage investment in this important sector," said Andrew Hedges, a partner at the Norton Rose Group, adding, "particularly the emergence of VCS and CCBA as the preferred combination of standards."

EcoSecurities, Conservation International, Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA), ClimateBiz and the Norton Rose Group collaborated to find out what more than 157 global, multinational and regional organizations think about forestry and forest carbon offsetting projects.

The findings come at an important time for the Carbon offset market, and are particularly relevant to New Era Farms as they are developing forestry Carbon offset projects in Central America. For more information on carbon credit investment and how to spot a scam you might refer to PanAmerican Properties web site  www.paulowniapanama.org

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Posted by panampro at 9:42 AM CDT
Thursday, 15 April 2010
Carbon Offset – A Great Method to Save the Environment
Topic: Education

January 29, 2010 by Grace Carter

Tags:Tags: , , , , , As the planet reels under increasing levels of environmental pollution and global warming, carbon offset is acting as a savior by incentivizing firms and governments to cut their carbon emissions.

The release of deadly greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is counter balanced by the carbon offset concept through the use of renewable and cleaner energy sources, reforestation schemes and many other green initiatives. The greenhouse gas emission limits for developed and developing nations are governed by the Kyoto Protocol, an internationally accepted pact, which was signed in 2005 by most nations of the world.

The Protocol makes it mandatory for industries emitting above the allowed limit of carbon dioxide to bring down their emissions to safe levels, or they should buy carbon credits certificates which can be traded in the market, or alternatively pay a penalty for the emissions, which is referred to as carbon tax. Carbon credits, which are older than carbon offset, are extremely popular and economical alternatives for businesses, with one credit allowing the buyer to release one ton of carbon dioxide into the environment. Large organizations are catching up with the global carbon-neutral campaign and buying carbon credits to impress customers, investors and corporate partners.

Another novel method, carbon offset, has paved the way for an excellent economic opportunity, particularly in the developing countries, as the scheme provides smooth financing for eco-friendly projects that are designed to help decrease the overall carbon footprint in the world. It helps in encouraging alternative and renewable energy choices like wind energy, solar power etc and other environment conservation projects like reforestation.

Even common people are increasingly making use of the carbon offset scheme to decrease their carbon footprint and are advocating this innovative way to others as well. Buying carbon offset is straightforward and can be conveniently executed on the internet through one of the many carbon offset provider websites; however, it should be ensured that your money is making real influence through good projects.

You may also consider investing in carbon offset reforestation programs. Paulownia is one of the better trees for carbon capture. Reduce your carbon footprint with every tree you plant and increase your wealth too. With an extraordinary growth rate and huge air filtering leaves that convert carbon into oxygen at a higher rate than almost any other tree, Royal Empress Trees are rapidly becoming an important part of the solution to reducing our impact on the Earth. Paulownia trees are your best choice for a fast growing, beautiful tree that is unsurpassed in it's ability to help our environment simply by growing. For more information on paulownia you might read www.paulownianow.org and information on carbon offset investing www.paulowniapanama.org

However, we must keep in mind that buying carbon offset does not absolve us of our responsibilities, and that all of us can play a significant role in decreasing our carbon footprints by making small changes to our everyday lives. Minor steps like switching off electrical devices and appliances when not in use, replacing fossil fuels by renewable fuels like biodiesel, and using LED lighting and low-energy bulbs can actually help a lot in reducing overall emissions.

Carbon offset is yet to find its place in an average person\’s vocabulary. Mass awareness on the subject through extensive education is required to bring us some steps closer to a clean and green environment.

For more information on paulownia carbon offsets you may read www.paulowniapanama.org

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Posted by panampro at 9:27 AM CDT
Monday, 5 April 2010
Intercropping with Paulownia - the "Wonder Tree"
Topic: Education

Tags: , , , , , , , , Introduction

In many Third World countries, the depletion of native forests coupled with the increased demand for timber and fuel is creating serious environmental, economic and social problems. One strategy that deals with this situation is to encourage rural people to integrate trees within existing farming systems. 

In China, the 11 species of Paulownia have been used with great success in agroforestry programs. Some two million hectares of farmland have been planted with Paulownia, helping to alleviate the chronic shortage of timber, fuelwood, and animal fodder, and at the same time increasing agricultural production and improving soil conservation. The lessons learned concerning the successful use of Paulownia in China can benefit many other countries facing similar problems of competing priorities between agriculture and wood production. 

Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF) have been studying Paulownia since 1959, and have developed and distributed several improved varieties to farmers and organizations in China and in other countries. IDRC began financing CAF research back in 1982. Then, with Centre funding in 1991, the International Farm Forestry Training Centre (INFORTRACE) was established as part of the CAF as a centre of excellence for agroforestry and integrated rural development. Over the years, China has become a global leader in agroforestry research. The benefits of Paulownia trees are numerous: 

  • They are adaptable. They grow on flat or mountainous land, in various types of soil, including rich humus soil in temperate areas, dry poor soil, rich forest soil, and light clay soil in the subtropics, laterite soil in the tropics, and dry steppes. In general, Paulownia is suitable for planting in deep soil that is loose, well-aerated, and fed by underground water at a level below two meters;
  • Paulownia also adapts to a variety of climates, from warm and temperate to tropical, and can even withstand temperatures as low as -20° C (different species vary in their resistance to the cold). The mean annual temperature for Paulownia is 13-25° C. Precipitation needs also vary greatly, from as low as 500 mm to a maximum of 2 000 or 3 000 mm annually;
  • They grow extremely quickly (average growth of two meters per year in height and 4-5 cm around);
  • They have a deep root system that, for the most part, does not compete with the roots of crops;
  • Their branches and leaves are sparse, allowing plenty of light to come through;
  • Intercropping with Paulownia can improve the microclimate by reducing the effects of drying winds (wind speed can be reduced by 20-50% on average) and increasing air moisture, which considerably increases yields of some crops such as winter wheat and millet (provided that suitable crop density is maintained);
  • Paulownia produces a beautiful, light wood, which is useful for furniture, plywood, musical instruments, and handicrafts; its sale can considerably increase the income of rural people;
  • Its branches can be used for fuelwood (a 10-year-old tree produces 100 kg of dry branches);
  • The leaves are rich in protein (16.2%), carbohydrates (9.44%), and minerals, making them ideal for animal fodder and green fertilizer (a 10-year-old tree produces 80 kg of dry leaves per year);
  • The leaves, flowers, and bark have medicinal properties. 

If the trees are used primarily to improve agricultural production, approximately 40 to 67 trees are planted per hectare. Intercropping with Paulownia will increase yields of wheat, corn, cotton, and millet. Crops such as sesame and sweet potato are not suitable for this method and their yields may actually decrease. If 50 trees are planted per hectare, they will produce 20-30 cubic meters of timber per hectare in 10 years, a source of important extra income to farmers. 

Paulownia trees can also be planted primarily for timber production, with crops as a secondary activity. In such case, 200 trees are planted per hectare. An initial yield of two crops per year is reduced after four years to one crop per year, but can still amount to some 37.5 tonnes per hectare over 10 years. From 90 to 110 cubic meters of timber per hectare can be produced after 10 years. 

Impact

  • Training - The International Farm Forestry Training Centre has trained more than 240 scientists, land-use managers, and policy makers from a variety of countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, in Paulownia intercropping since 1991. Training efforts continue with a workshop scheduled for September 1998 on "Genetic Resources and Cultivation of Paulownia". 
  • Further research based on successes - Building on a long history of agroforestry practice and Paulownia research in China, the Chinese Academy of Forestry continues its investigation into the taxonomy and distribution, tree improvement and selection, cultivation and afforestation, timber properties, pest control, and molecular biology of Paulownia. Some 10 superior clones have been selected and distributed on a large scale throughout the country. Professor Zhu's farm forestry project has resulted in the planting of 900 000 hectares of land with Paulownia, bamboo, Chinese fir, and other tree varieties, boosting annual rural earning by about US $20 million as of 1995.

Prerequisites

Access to seedlings or root cuttings of appropriate Paulownia species for local conditions; training in planting and managing the trees and intercropping techniques. The International Farm Forest Training Centre of the Chinese Academy of Forestry provides training courses for farmers, researchers, technicians, and extension workers. 

Potential users

Farmers around the world could benefit from intercropping with Paulownia, especially in areas with timber, fuelwood, and fodder shortages. Paulownia seeds have been introduced in more than 30 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Considerable success has been achieved in Australia, India, and Pakistan. 


Cost and availability

Seeds of different Paulownia species are available from the New Era Farms (see below).

Contact

Paulownia Now

www.paulownianow.org

Resources

From the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF): 

A 27-minute film in English entitled Paulownia in China has been produced by the Chinese Agricultural Studio.

Agroforestry Systems in China. 1991. Chinese Academy of Forestry and IDRC. 216 pp. Models, development, research, and experiences of agroforestry in tropical, subtropical, temperate, and semi-arid regions in China. 

From the IDRC Web site:

Agroforestry Systems in China. 1991. Published jointly by the Chinese Academy of Forestry and the International Development Research Centre. Available at: http://archive.idrc.ca/library/document/090916/ 

Paulownia in China: Cultivation and Utilization. 1986.  Chinese Academy of Forestry staff, Asian Network for Biological Sciences and IDRC. 65 pp. Available at: http://archive.idrc.ca/library/document/071235/071235a.htm 

Xiong Yao Guo.1990. Final Technical Report of Paulownia Project (Phase II).   The Chinese Academy of Forestry. Available at: http://archive.idrc.ca/library/document/086352/086352a.htm 

Zhu Zhaohua.1995. (http://archive.idrc.ca/books/738/zhu.html) From, In Person: Portraits of researchers in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. IDRC. 190 pp. ISBN 0-88936-738-8. 

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Posted by panampro at 10:56 AM CDT
Wednesday, 31 March 2010
How Will Paulownia Trees Benefit the Entire Global Community?
Topic: Education

Tags: , , , , , , , , As the effects of global warming continue to take their toll, the environmental experts are seemingly advising on afforestation as the only way out of the grim situation that we're facing. This is a biological control methodology that does not require a lot of resources to implement and maintain. Planting fast growing trees will restore our forest cover in rapid order, as we have no time to lose. There are several other trees in consideration, but only the Paulownia Tree has so many added advantages to offer humanity and the Earth.

Afforestation has a downside; its opposite is as we have seen is deforestation. We consume more wood than we sustain, and therefore cannot overlook the need for wood in any given case study. So how do we balance between afforestation to cater for the carbon offsets and the same for wood purposes? Paulownia Trees solves this puzzle with all the unique benefits that comes with its inception, we end up having an almost half to half winning situation on both carbon control and wood usage. These fast growing trees supply lumber, pulp and fuel at amazing rates of speed.

Paulownia Trees have a variety of advantages in forestry that covers most concerns mentioned which include, rapid growth that in just one year attains a height of 10-18 feet and within 6-10 years you have a fully grown shade tree that would normally take over 20 years to fully mature. Paulownia Trees have high carbon absorbing rate at 48 lbs per tree, and 13 tons of CO2 in each acre per year. When you cut down any of these fast growing trees, they are able to regenerate from the stump very fast, resuming growth immediately. Other benefits include, fire resistance at 477 degrees Celsius flash point, takes less years to harvest and do not twist or crack.

If we develop a good Paulownia Tree forest ratio that would cut across wood and carbon purification equally and maintain this consistently, then I would say we have the situation under control... although not fully solved. With all these wonderful things about them, we need to embrace this special species of fast growing trees without delay. Through continuing research and education, we would be able to realize the many benefits the Paulownia Tree has to offer the Earth. There may be even more amazing gifts found within Paulownia that we have yet to discover.

Deborah Bartley is an avid gardener and tree expert, who got the Enoch Olinga College (ENOCIS) growing paulownia for peoples of extreme poverty and manages to keep up to date with global environmental issues such as afforestation. To read more about the environmental benefits of the Paulownia Trees or how we are using paulownia in Panama at www.paulownianow.org  

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Posted by panampro at 9:04 AM CDT
Friday, 19 March 2010
Agro-forestry With Paulownia Organic Nitrogen
Topic: Education

Tags: , , , , , , When set out in a plantation design, Paulownia are planted closely in rows, and then thinned by the row, over a number of seasons. In the first year of growth, mid season, every second row is harvested as lightweight material for pole constructions and the like.

After having been cut, the stumps left in the ground will re-generate at a remarkable speed. The resultant growth is used as a cut-and-come-again source of green manure or fodder.

Early during the following growing season, the stumps fail due to over-competition from the remaining plantation, mainly this is a light requirement factor, or rather, lack thereof. The leaves are huge. Grazing animals are not allowed into the plantation at this time.

The following season, but later in, once again, the now second row  of standing timber (now about 6 inches thick) is harvested. The same process is followed; only, this harvested timber is quite valuable for cabinet making, veneers and such.


The resultant stumps are left in-situ to re-grow. At this size, once cut, the stump releases the majority of its stored nitrogen comparable with the loss of its biomass. This mass release is then taken up by the remaining trees.

Resultant re-growth, although a marvelous source of regenerating green manure or mulch - is more efficiently utilized as standing fodder for grazing animals, which in their turn add manure to the plantation.

For the next two seasons, or until the stumps cease fodder production due to over-competition, grazers are periodically allowed in to feed. Provided there is enough standing fodder, the animals will leave the bark on the timber trees alone, so damage to the trees is negligible.

After the fourth season, provided no inter-crop has been incorporated, grazers can generally be allowed into the plantation, to manage the proliferation of weed growth and add their manure to the system. These weeds tend to be soft due to the lower light conditions, therefore easily manageable by grazing stock. Although the understory does have lower light conditions, the overall effect is more akin to 'park-like conditions', rather than 'rain-forest conditions'.

More secondary rows may indeed be subsequently removed or not, depending on the overall plantation system plan and the quality of the Paulownia timber desired.

For more information on paulownia you may read www.paulownianow.org

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Posted by panampro at 4:29 PM CDT
Saturday, 13 February 2010
The Paulownia Tree: Waste Stream & Effluent Remediation Capabilities
Topic: Education

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , The following research was compiled to illustrate the ability of the Paulownia tree to phytoremediate extremely high strength waste from dairy and animal feeding operations.  As a result, other effluent waste streams such as municipal and residential wastewater can be remediated much easier and more efficiently than conventional animal waste.  Paulownia trees possibly provide an alternate method of absorbing treated effluents derived from municipalities and septic tank systems.

Paulownia Nutrient Utilization for Dairy Effluents

Research authored by:

Dr. Ben A. Bergmann,   Department of Forestry, North Carolina State University

Dr. Carl F. Jordon,   Senior Ecologist,   University of Georgia

Overview 1

Paulownia species grow rapidly, utilize large amounts of nitrogen (including other nutrients), coppice (stump sprout) and regrow rapidly, and have a variety of end uses. Large quantities of nutrients can be removed from animal waste applied to Paulownia trees because of their high biomass production and high foliar nutrient concentrations.   The coppicing ability of Paulownia eliminates the need to replant for several rotations; a considerable cost advantage over tree species that do not exhibit this trait. The ability to stump sprout prolifically is an asset in systems aimed at removal of nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients via high biomass production because plants may be cut down more than once during the growing season. 

A Paulownia tree farm designed for commercial timber production at 1093 trees per acre will absorb 445 lbs. of nitrogen the first year, 668 lbs. the second year (thinned to 546 trees per acre), 735 lbs. the third year (thinned to 273 trees per acre), 804 lbs. the fourth year, 1166 lbs. the five year, 15,291 lbs, the sixth year, 1,964 lbs. the seventh year and 3,052 lbs. the tenth year.  In addition the crop of selection to be intercropped with the Paulownia will increase the amount of nitrogen uptake per acre. {i.e. grass (215 lbs. per acre) corn (265 lbs. per acre)}.

All calculations are based on a conservative value of 2% nitrogen in leaves and 0.2% nitrogen in wood. Actual nitrogen removal rates will likely exceed these estimates given in that is has been shown; that Paulownia elongata foliar nitrogen content can be much higher than 2%. (Bergmann et al. 1998, Kasy and Gouin 1996) and that denser plantings can be used.   As with any land application system, protection of surface and groundwater quality is dependent on matching wastewater application volume and concentration with the tree species planted, soil type and weather conditions.

The objective is to increase the environmental benefits of the Paulownia uptake application by bio stimulating the lagoons causing them to become aerobic and eliminate the odor emissions. It is further intended to sub terrain irrigate with the lagoon water reducing the amount of evaporation and the possibility of any odor emissions while providing the most beneficial usage of the nutrient water.

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1.  Section A, pages 18-19: Bergmann, Department of Forestry, North Carolina State University

Paulownia Qualities

Biomass Production of Paulownia

Biomass of Paulownia is the main component in a PCI (Paulownia-crop intercropping) system. The quantity of Paulownia biomass reflects the productivity and the flow of materials and energy of the PCI system. Biomass production (fresh weight and oven-dry weight) of Paulownia was investigated yearly from one to eight years after out planting, and the total biomass was divided into the following components - trunk (under crown), branches (big branches, medium branches and small branches), leaves leaf blades and stalks), bark, flower buds, flowers, fruits, roots (stock, thick roots, medium roots and small roots, and litter. The result of the biomass investigation is as follows:

Component of Paulownia Biomass

The biomasses of each part in and for the whole plant of a 3-year old Paulownia were ranked as roots, trunk and leaves.  After three years, the listing changed to branches and trunk, leaves, roots, flowers and fruits.  The root growth of Paulownia is more dominant than of other organs before it is 3-year old.  The growth of above-ground portion (trunk, leaves and branches) became faster with age of the tree.  The proportion of biomass of each organ to total biomass was 31.9%, 25.31%, 21.32%, 17.19%, 4.27% and 1.4% for trunks, leaves, branches, roots, flowers and fruits respectively.  Among which, the total amount of 30.98% of leaves, flowers and fruits fall off as litter.  The cumulative biomass of one Paulownia tree at eighth year was 607 lbs. dry weight. Correspondingly, the total biomass poundage per acre for different spacings of 8-year old Paulownia were estimated at 47,806, 23,890, 16,131, 11,950 and 9,561 lbs./acre of 5 x 10, 5 x 20, 5 x 30, 5 x 40 and 5 x 50 respectively.

Utilization of Paulownia biomass

As mentioned above, the biomass of trunk and branch was 53.22% of the total biomass. About 63.5% of the Paulownia biomass can be easily used as timber and firewood. The root biomass was 7% and of foliage 30%. Full use of the foliage will increase the economic value of Paulownia trees. The leaves drop off due to the effects of early frost not allowing enough time for the trees to transfer the nutrient matters from leaves to root for storage.  The nutrient status of the fallen leaves is close to that of the fresh leaves. Paulownia foliage can be used and the dropping off causes no harm to the growth of trees. The nutrient analysis of Paulownia foliage shows the presence of eight amino acids and trace elements such as Fe, Cu, Mn and Zn that are important to animal growth.

Paulownia is also a good nectariferous species. There is about 0.0236 g of pollen in a flower, from which 0.0473 g honey can be produced.  A standard group of bees can collect 22-33 lbs. of nectar during a flowering season.  To sum up, Paulownia has many suitable characteristics, such as fast growth, deep root distribution, sparse crown structure, multipurpose (timber, fodder, manure and nectar sources), use when grown in agro-forestry systems.

Ecological Effects on the Farming Fields

Soil Moisture and its Physical Features

Soil moisture was one of the main factors affecting soil fertility. The parameters related to the physical characteristics of soil moisture were observed because the physical property of soil moisture was closely related to the soil-ventilating feature.  The result indicated that the volume weight of upper soil layers (0-8 inches) decreased with increase of distance from the trees.

The maximum moisture holding capacity also increased with the distance from the trees. The volume weight of upper soil layer at 4 ft. to the tree rows was higher than the control (control means without Paulownia-crop intercropping).

Total Nutrients 2

Extensive aerobic treatment will reduce odor from the liquid waste from a confined animal operation. In the process, however, much of the nutrient value will be lost. For example, much of the organic content of manure will be lost as carbon dioxide; nitrogen will be converted to nitrate and subsequently may be reduced to nitrogen gas.

Water Status in PCI System

The soil moisture content of upper layer (0-24 inches) was 24.2% in PCI field and 24.2% in the control field. The content of lower layer (below 60 cm) was 28.7% in PCI field and 29.5% in the control field. The observations match with the features of root system of Paulownia. When the Paulownia trees are planted in farmland, there is no negative interaction between trees and crops in water intake.

Energy Balance and Evapotranspiration of PCI System

Through the systematic observations of total solar radiation, reflect radiation. wind velocity, temperatures (with wet and dry bulb thermometers), soil temperature and moisture contents of different layers in different PCI models, a description of energy balance of the PCI system was worked out. The net radiation and its components in a PCI system decreased when compared with control plots.  However, the proportion of heat flux to net radiation was reduced, while that of latent heat flux and soil heat flux increased The ratio of actual over potential evapotranspiration and soil moisture increased, resulting in less water deficit compared to control plots. Paulownia's effects on these parameters depended on the tree density and growth stage, and their relative distance from one another. The modified energy balance was favorable to wheat growth during its heading and flowering stages under any Paulownia spacings, but the effect on wheat growth during grain filling in denser Paulownia spacing was due to the greater reduction in net radiation, perhaps brought about by the protective effects of the fully developed leaves on trees.

Soil Nutrition Status

Organic matter and nitrogen contents at 0-8 inches below soil surface decreased toward the trees. There was not much difference detected in available P, Ca and Mg. But available K was apparently higher within 5 m from the trees than further distance from the trees. Continuous measurements for three years at the age of 9-11 years old showed that there was not much difference in N contents at 0-23 inches below soil surface in the PCI field, but N contents at 31-40 inches below soil surface at a distance of 20 feet from the trees significantly decreased while compared with the control.

This could explain that Paulownia trees utilized nutrients mostly from lower soil layer (31-40 inches). It was also found that seasonal variation of available Ca and Mg was similar with that of the control.  At 2 inches from the trees, however, it increased at 0-8 inches below soil surface perhaps due to the decomposition of Paulownia litter.

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2.   Control of Odor Emissions from Animal Operations: Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina, page 22

ODOR REDUCTION DURING LAND APPLICATION 3

Land application of manure typically brings about the most complaints. Fortunately, odors from land application can virtually be eliminated by injection or immediate incorporation of the manure into the soil. These techniques also increase the amount of nitrogen and other nutrients available for crop uptake. Unfortunately, injection and incorporation are techniques most easily adapted to liquid manure application. Incorporation of solid manure typically requires another pass with some tillage implement. This is both time consuming and costly but is necessary to achieve effective odor control.

Another aspect of manure application that generates odors is the agitation of liquid manure storage facilities prior to manure removal. Agitation is necessary to reduce the solids buildup in storage, break up any surface crust, and evenly distribute the nutrients throughout the manure. Reports from many livestock producers suggest that some manure pit additives reduce solids buildup in the storage units. Although there is little university research to support this claim, this technique should be viewed as a possible odor control method. Chemical additives also have the potential to reduce specific gas formation such as hydrogen sulfide during agitation. These additives will have an immediate, short-term effect on gas emissions.

More research is needed to determine dosage rates and costs for this technology. The issue of reduction of odors and/or certain gases like hydrogen sulfide (especially in Minnesota due to the state regulatory agency's H2S emission standard) during manure storage agitation is very critical. Weather conditions, primarily wind speed/direction and humidity should be evaluated before manure is land applied to insure minimal impacts on neighbors and the public. The weather least suitable for spreading manure is high humidity and very light winds or clear, calm evenings. This condition prevents odors from dispersing and thus increases the chance of creating a nuisance or receiving a complaint

Chemical Activities of Soil

Enzyme, the biological catalyst extracted by microorganisms in their living activities, can accelerate the reactions of all biochemical activities of the soil. Results showed that at 0-8 inches below soil surface near the tree) showed more activity of invertase, hydrogen peroxidase, etc. which led to the increase of decomposition of organic matter, composition of humus and oxidation of other components to increase soil fertility.

_______________________________

3. Odor Control for Animal Agriculture, page 2

Paulownia Foliage as Manure 4

The above analysis shows that PCI caused crop-favored changes in soil properties and nutrient status. It should be noted that all the above changes occurred when Paulownia foliage (80%) was not collected from the field. Local farmers usually collect Paulownia leaves for fodder. If all the Paulownia leaves are left in the field as litter, this will lead to greater changes in soil property and nutrition status in PCI system.  The experiment of fertilization was conducted using 2.94 tons of dry Paulownia leaves applied to 2.5-acres open field.  The result indicated 30.6% increase of wheat yield and 19.8% increase of cotton yield.

Paulownia foliage is a very good resource for manure and fodder. According to a survey made, there were 24 million Paulownia trees in Luyi County of Shandong Province. The Paulownia trees produced 354,000 tons of leaves which contained about 9,310.2 tons of nitrogen, equal to 20,239.56 tons of urea, crude protein 57,723 tons and crude fat 36,679 tons, 23.244 tons of dry flowers were produced which contained about 1.036 tons of nitrogen, equal to 2,253.7 tons of urea and 6,427 tons of crude protein. The total from both leaves and flowers in the county led to 22,493 tons of urea.

Disinfectant Role of Leaf Secretion 4

The aim was to study the disinfectant role of Paulownia leaf and the possibility to use Paulownia trees in purifying air. This study needed high-level test conditions and so it was conducted in laboratory. The experimental results indicated that:

1.   The compounds volatilized from Paulownia leaves can kill Tubercle bacillus (with a rate of 100%). Among the 36 tree species tested, Paulownia, Sorbaria kirilowii and Hibiscus syriacus showed highest antibacterial effect.

2.   Paulownia had no effect on Staphylococcus aureus, but it was lethal to Psudomanas aeruginosa (38.8%).

3.   Paulownia leaf paste had strongest effect to kill flies among the 20 tree species tested.

Portions of the Complete Study were Condensed & Edited for Republication Purposes

____________________________________________________________________

4.   Evaluation and Model Optimization of Paulownia Inter-Cropping System-A Project Summary Report, 

      International Development Research Centre, Page 9Tags

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Posted by panampro at 5:47 PM CST

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