What happens to the trees in your backyard after they are taken down? Do you know? Often the arborist will buck it up, turn into fire wood, chip it for other uses, but what about turning it into art? A lot of the wood in our cities is not looked at as a valued resource after it is removed. Eric from Relic Woodworks is one person trying to give those trees a "second life". He has a system in place to receive trees from private property and turn them into opportunity for artists, craftsmen and carpenters. He mills them into live edge wood for peoples appreciation. Using a solar kiln and small sawmill to fulfill his dream of allowing people to appreciate the beauty of wood. We talked about his beginnings and operation, appreciation of trees, beauty of live edge wood, fulfilling your dreams and following your passion, clearcuting, sustainable forest practices and much more.
Recorded on the top of Mt.Solomon near Hinton, Alberta, Canada. We talked about the Mountain Legacy Project, a project that replicates photos taken nearly 100 years ago in order to do comparative analysis and learn from our past. Rick has a wealth of knowledge regarding historical resources and I just loved being able to talk to him and Sonia while looking over the rocky mountains. We discussed the importance indigenous burning, the need for fire, forest management, people as part of the landscape rather than a pest, the cyclical nature of the forest, forest succession, conservation, and a great deal more. This was my favorite podcast to record and the conversation was more than intriguing. Link to their awesome and work below.
Forests provide all kinds of value to our lives, from picturesque views, habitat for animals to the oxygen we breath and much more. Everyone can see the benefits of wild places and natural forests but we often negate the habitat in our back yards. Urban forests play a huge role in our day to day lives that we often don't appreciate. Cleaning the pollution from our air, reducing energy costs through insulating our neighborhoods, reducing the effects of wind and rain, and much more while simultaneously providing that warm and comfortable feeling we all associate with the presence of trees. Crispin is the Parks Manager and Urban Forester for the city of Edmonton. He came on to discuss the role of urban forests in our lives and provide some insight into their value. Cool link below to see the exact value of each tree in Edmonton, from energy savings, oxygen produced, carbon sequestered and much more.
My favorite lecturer, Marty Luckert a resource economics professor from the University of Alberta, came on to discuss the feasibility of biofuels in today's market. Ethanol is a fuel created from organic matter, we mix it into our gasoline and many other uses. If the organic matter being used is sustainable then the ethanol product can be considered carbon neutral as opposed to fossil fuels that releases excess carbon into the atmosphere. We may be able to harness the power of trees and other organic matter to create a more sustainable fuel, although there are still many questions around the economics and science of such a fuel. We discussed how ethanol is made, what it can be made from, how efficient it is, where it may play a role in the future, forest harvest residue vs dedicated ethanol plantations, true market value of fossil fuels, carbon tax, societal values, economic literacy, educating the public, differing values, and much more.
Wildfires seem to have become more of a problem for communities in recent years. With so many rural towns and municipalities surrounded by forest land destined to burn it has become apparent that Firesmart activities are needed to keep them safe. Firesmart is a management system that helps reduce wildfire risk. The pelican mountain project is a research site dedicated to testing wildfire activity through different types of vegetation management. Basically they are doing a bunch of different things to the landscape and setting it on fire to see what happens. From different mulching techniques, pruning and other methods they are building a baseline for us to understand the fuel types that are created after Firesmart vegetation management has taken place. We discussed Firesmart principals, Slave Lake and Fort McMurry fires, specifics around vegetation management for reducing fire behavior and risk, planting larch to reduce fire risk, fire risk in Jasper after pine beetle attack, First Nations involvement, and much more.
Imagine using building materials that require 10 times more energy and other resources to create in order to build your home. That's what we are doing when we use concrete, brick, steel and other metals. Wood is the simple answer to this problem. Wood is vastly more sustainable in every way than these other traditionally used products, and with new technology we are able to utilize wood in ways we couldn't in the past. This makes it easier and more reliable to build with wood then ever before. Shafraaz is an architect with experience building sustainable and net zero buildings. He came on to discuss the sustainability of wood and other products. We also got really into the specifics behind building a self sufficient home with solar, geo-thermal and other such sustainable energies in the last half of the podcast.
People tend to find a cause they care about and stick to it to make sure it is represented. Often times at the detriment to adjacent and equally important causes, not out of hate but out of ignorance. Arguably the best approach for finding answers to big questions, like ecosystem management, is to see the WHOLE picture. Focus is good, it drives us, makes us better, but it can also make us blind. EBM is an idea where we come together as stakeholders and land users to manage the ecosystem as a whole and understand the impacts each action has on every value from water quality, habitat, carbon storage and economics. David is an Adjunct Professor with the UBC Forestry program as well as a consultant and head of the Healthy Landscapes Program for FRi Research. He came on to add to what Ed had to say last week. Everyone has an idea of what EBM is, so the more opinions you here the better you can understand it.
FRi Research put on a workshop to discuss ecosystem based management(EBM) with multiple stakeholders and land managers. This workshop came with a lot of great ideas and perhaps a new way of thinking about landscape management. EBM is a way of thinking about the entire ecological picture instead of focusing on individual aspects like timber, biodiversity, water, habitat, etc. EBM gets us to look at all the values and manage them simultaneously creating a more holistic and well balanced approach to ecological management. Ed Grumbine, currently the Land Programs Director for the Grand Canyon Trust, is also known as one of the founders of this way of thinking and he was kind enough to come speak with me about this concept. Thanks to FRi for putting this on and there is one more episode on this to come with David Andison next week.
Imagine a disease that eats away at the neurons in your brain creating holes. This disease is fatal but will take years to kill you as your mind and body slowly waste away. By the way, its infectious and easily transmittable. That is CWD. It affects animals in the deer family, white-tail deer, mule deer, moose and elk. This degenerative disease was first discovered in a captive environment but is now found in wild populations of animals in much of the United States as well as Alberta and Saskatchewan. It can survive outside its host for years, making any place where infected animals live an infectious area even after the animals are long gone. It is truly a worrying situation and one that we need to try to understand and manage as much as possible. Catherine is a research scientist that has been monitoring and working on CWD in Alberta for many years. She came on to explain this disease, what it is, where it came from, how it spreads, and what we can do.
Lasers. Drones. Satellites. Infrared. Planes. All of these things come together to make up remote sensing. Remote sensing is the act of getting information about something without being there to take it yourself. Satellites, planes and drones can capture aerial photography and multi-spectral imagery like infrared. They can also mount special sensors which create LiDAR(Light Detection and Ranging) data. Drones and aircraft can also create 3D models of landscapes they fly. It is all very technical and cool. This technology is changing the way we do management and making it better.
Topics discussed: Definition of remote sensing, Earth Observation Satellites, Mapping wilderness fires, LiDAR, Measuring trees, Better Data=Better Management, Photogrammetry, Drone technology and its application, Artificial intelligence, Future of natural resource data.
This is an old recording I did from last year. It was the 4th episode I ever did but I think it might be one of the most important ones. Michael is an indigenous policy coordinator for the government of Alberta and he came on to discuss indigenous history and culture. He spoke a lot to his own experience and about the trauma that these communities have faced in the past and how that affects forest management today. He was incredibly honest and truthful about his personal experiences and a very down to earth guy. This is my favorite episode ever. Thanks Mike
Wood is used to build our homes, create paper so we can right literature and history and build beautiful pieces of art and furniture that we cherish for its natural beauty, but we have barely scratched the surface of woods capacity. With new technology we can build taller, stronger, more fire resistant and more beautiful buildings. Vancouver now has a building 18 stories tall built from wood, and potential exists for us to go taller yet. These structures are not only functional and meet all safety standards but are absolutely gorgeous to behold. Nothing quite warms up a room like wood grain. In this episode I talked with Rory Koska from Wood-Works about the potential of wood buildings and why they are a better alternative in many cases to steel and concrete. Topics discussed include changing specs, cross laminated timber, glulam, laminated veneer lumber, fires resistance, how tall can we go, high density wood products, beauty of wood, sustainability of wood, and much more.
Hunting and fishing are seen by many people to be barbaric activities that no ethical person would do, or even more misguided, they think it is mindless and easy. People see the depictions of hunters as middle aged men riding around in a pickup truck drinking beer and shooting everything in sight for the pure joy of the kill. I promise you this could not be further from the truth. Hunting and fishing takes years to understand and master and requires infinite patience and skill to do right. It changes the way you think about food, and your connection with it. You see the full journey from hoof to plate and you appreciate everything that went into getting that meat to your families table. You will never throw out an once of anything you have harvested yourself. I would argue hunters and anglers are more attached and thankful for their food then any non-hunter/angler. Tom Habib came on to discuss the role of hunting and fishing in our society and why it is important. The BHA is a non-profit organization trying to get more people out into the wild. They are also trying to ensure the wild is there to enjoy for future generations.
Topics discussed include, Chronic Wasting Disease, ethics of hunting, connection to the land, requirements of good hunting and fishing, how to begin, issues facing the BHA, much more.
Yup, that's my Dad. He has over 40 years of experience managing forests in Alberta and was apart of a number of committees and boards that changed forest management for the better. We talked about what natural resource management was like in the 70's, how things have changed and where things might go. He has a wealth of knowledge that I think people can learn from. Topics discussed include old school forestry, being resourceful, Jack-of-all trades vs specialization, being self sufficient in the bush, the importance of bringing a compass, models vs. real world, growing trees, scientific approach in forestry, old growth forests, the problem with hemp.
Invasive species have always been a huge concern. Because they are not native they have no natural equalizer that can level off their populations when they start to get to big. This can sometimes result in a total takeover and a complete collapse of the natural species that have managed to maintain ecosystem balance for thousands of years. Prussian Carp are one such species that is very well adapted to taking over our river systems and has the potential to destroy the natural balance. They have been found in river systems in southern Alberta and the Alberta Conservation Association has begun research to understand these creatures.
Alberta's wilderness is incredible to behold. It is a place where thousands of people come to hunt, fish, ATV, hike, camp, ski, canoe and much more. We want to make sure people can continue to build these wilderness values for themselves but also to ensure the environmental integrity of the area for future generations to build the same values. The Canadian Parks And Wilderness Society is an organization dedicated to protecting these wild areas. Chris came on to discuss CPAWS' recommendations to the government. CPAWS is far from the only interested group and many other organizations have an interest in what goes on. In this episode we discussed restrictions proposed and what making this area into a wildland provincial park would mean for recreation and industry in the area.
Mountain Pine Beetle has done a number on North American forests in the last decade. These tiny little insects carry a fungus that can choke out a full grown tree. With a terrifying reproduction rate and warmer winters these dirty little buggers have the potential to decimate our pine forests. Nadir Erbilgin came on to discuss these creatures and the risk.
Women in forestry is a topic not widely discussed. In the past forestry was typically a male dominated industry. Luckily that seems to be less and less true with every passing year. With more women enrolling in forestry and environmental sciences programs now then seemingly ever before, hopefully we are approaching a semblance of equality. Danielle came on to discuss her experience going to school and starting work as a forester in recent years.
Women have not always been traditionally found in forest careers. Luckily that has changed and we are seeing more women in forestry and environmental sciences than ever before. Bev Wilson has nearly 40 years of experience in the forest sector and was able to speak to a lot of the changes she has seen and experienced over the years. With a Career as a Senior Resource Analyst for the province of Alberta she is very excited about how good data can help us be better stewards. We talked about how she got her start, some of the challenges along the way, her passion for forest resource data and Geographic Information systems(GIS), and much more.
Genetics is a topic that is widely misunderstood. Fear of creating non-natural, GMO organisms has people turned off of the topic. Forest Genetics is one of these misunderstood subjects. We talked seed zones, selective breeding, progeny sites, ethics of putting genetically altered trees on the land, climate change and how we can plan for it and a great deal more.