Just read this in Slate.com’s ‘Today’s Papers
USA Today leads on predictions that farmers would plant 18 million acres of new trees by 2020, covering an area the size of West Virginia, if reforestation incentives included in pending climate legislation are passed into law.
What strikes me about this is that pre-settler, much of America’s farmland was not farmland, but was prairie. A couple weeks ago, my family went on a vacation that took us to Blue Mounds State Park just outside of Laverne, Minnesota. This is the in the old prairie region of the state, with rolling hills, and distant horizons. There was a plaque at the top of the ‘mound’ that you could read as you look down, from 100 meters up, on the farmlands around you. It said that the early settlers saw, from that vantage, a sea of grasses with no trees to be seen except along the banks of some streams. As the winds stroked the vast fields of blue-grass, their rippling looked like the waves of an inland sea. Now when you look down over the farmland, there are trees everywhere! The trees are, in an historical sense, unnatural there. This means that in some places, reforestation is as destructive to the biome as deforestation is in others. Think about it.
So, while government is providing funds for reforestation, why should there not be funds for prairie restoration? We need the biotic diversity that prairies and forests will provide. Grant, prairie restoration is a longer process, and I have not heard how prairie restoration might positively impact ‘global climate change’, but surely it would have positive effects. Wouldn’t it?
What are your thoughts?