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Monoculture cash crops impoverish the soil causing soil erosion.

Monoculture cash crops impoverish the soil causing eventual soil erosion. Monoculture forestry causes fires by failing to add diversity. alternating the material that is deposited in the soil by including trees that drop the leaves alongside trees that remain evergreen allows the continuation of farming without depleting the soil further. This is why indigenous people who live in the rainforest can do so for thousands of years without damaging the environment. The forest quickly reclaims the small openings they clear and the villagers move on when the soil becomes unproductive in the clearings.

Clear felling severely damages the soils but with careful introduction of indigenous trees alongside the cash crops we can continue to harvest without causing the soil to be washed away in floods.


The potato famine in Ireland gives another insight into cash crops. When they fail it is often not without disastrous consequences.

The picture below is not unique and shows clearly how moisture rolls along a coastline due to thermals rising from the hot sands and black tarmac roads. At night when temperatures drop the clouds cross onto the land and rain falls as a result. Observed many times here in Devon.
Clouds along the California Coastline



Fog has Declined in Past Century along California's Redwood Coast


February 11, 2010

California's coastal fog has decreased significantly over the past 100 years, potentially endangering coast redwood trees dependent on cool, humid summers, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, scientists.

It is unclear whether this is part of a natural cycle of the result of human activity, but the change could affect not only the redwoods, but the entire redwood ecosystem, the scientists say.

"Since 1901, the average number of hours of fog along the coast in summer has dropped from 56 percent to 42 percent, which is a loss of about three hours per day," said study leader James A. Johnstone, who recently received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley's Department of Geography before becoming a postdoctoral scholar in the campus's Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM). "A cool coast and warm interior is one of the defining characteristics of California's coastal climate, but the temperature difference between the coast and interior has declined substantially in the last century, in step with the decline in summer fog."

The loss of fog and increased temperature mean that "coast redwood and other ecosystems along the U.S. West Coast may be increasingly drought-stressed, with a summer climate of reduced fog frequency and greater evaporative demand," said coauthor Todd E. Dawson, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology and of ESPM. "Fog prevents water loss from redwoods in summer, and is really important for both the tree and the forest. If the fog is gone, we might not have the redwood forests we do now."


Trees cause rain


While I agree that some species of trees are detrimental to the environment, Rhododendron for example in the UK are very invasive and poison the soil with their foliage along with completely blocking the sun from the soil. Trees are very good at recovering water from the atmosphere causing it to rain. One only has to look at areas where trees have been removed to confirm this. The Chipco Movement in India for example was formed because rivers and streams failed to flow in the mountains once the are had been clear felled. For many years they noticed failing rains and when the rains did fall the ground was unable to soak up the water so huge mud slides were common place. The valuable top soils began to move down to the rivers and coloured them.
Eventually the women strapped themselves to the huge trucks and drove spikes into the trees to make the chainsaws dangerous to use. Eventually they won and the clear felling stopped.

The women then went about planting hundreds of thousands of trees which are now established and the streams and rivers now flow again with clean water.

Remove the forest from the coastline and we see a huge reduction in rainfall. A small island, covered in mangrove forest off the coast of India was clear felled and other species, was stripped of the timber for fuel. Cattle were moved in to graze and in 7 years they turned an island that had ample rainfall and fertile soils into a desert that has no rainfall. The cattle bones are there as a reminder to people of the folly of degrading the land and soil by removing the forests. In fact this can be seen in many countries, including our own little islands. East Anglia is now experiencing poor soil management and rainfall is getting less and less each year.

What science fails to take into account is that trees transpiring moisture seed rain-clouds and cause it to rain by removing the thermal barrier we see evident on parched dry lands. A thermal barrier along the desert coastline prevents moisture laden clouds from crossing onto the land. This causes inland forest to become parched and fires destroy it. Replace the forest along the coastline using waste water and rain will once again fall!

So for now removing trees to accelerate water run off from the surrounding areas will undoubtedly improve the rapid flow of soil water to the reservoir via the rivers for hydroelectric power production. But the silt from the degraded soils will render hydroelectric power redundant in a very short timescale as the sediment stacks up behind the dam’s. Just as it has in many hydroelectric schemes around the globe!

The problem is as always the use of un-sustainable monoculture cash crops. Eucalyptus is very flammable, producing volatile oils that ignite and spread wildfires with ease. The sensible approach is to bring in diversity and include species that do not burn readily and provide fire breaks to stop the devastation now seen around the globe as fires spread rapidly due to lack of thought when planting them. Nature does not like monoculture cash crops and we should all learn from nature. Pathogens abound in the once massive tropical rainforests and did not appear to upset the balance. In fact they provide a mechanism for letting more sunlight into the forest floor to stimulate new growth. Again monoculture cash crops do not survive pathogen invasion well. Why do you think this is?

Jeopardising the full health and echo systems is something mankind is very good at. We in Britain have removed a massive amount of forest in the name of progress. The baron moors we revel in were once great forests teaming with wildlife. Now they are teaming with ticks and used to farm horseflesh. Could this be the type of management you are referring to?

What about the Sahara Desert? Once the bread basket of the world, now a wasteland 2.5 times the size of Australia. What about Australia? Managed by Aborigines who used fire to turn the whole place into deserts? What about the sheep farmers whose habitual destruction prevents and chance of nature recovering?
The deserts are expanding at a frightening rate. So if the rain once fell on these massive lands and breathed life into them but now does not fall any more. Where does all this extra rain fall? Yup you’ve got it. It falls where trees remain and wet weather is commonplace causing floods and mudslides, with devastating effects.

Mankind’s stupidity never ceases to amaze me. We will not rest until we have a blank canvas to bear our own epitaphs. Andrew K Fletcher

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