Afforestation, an unknown but significant threat to pollinator survival
High intensity agriculture and turf management represent a serious threat to pollinator survivability, but there’s another serious threat which has destroyed millions of acres of land across the northern hemisphere, yet due to erroneous perceptions, this threat remains invisible to us, even though it’s everywhere. I use the term “afforestation” to describe a process by which abandon land rapidly transitions from an edible to an inedible landscape. Afforestation occurs everywhere grazing animals and humans have been removed from our land. Ironically, afforestation is most often expressed in our nature parks and refuges. The erroneous perception which perpetuates afforestation considers these lands as forest due to the extensive tree coverage; however, the careful observer can see the savanna through the recent overgrowth of low quality woody vegetation. The intense shade and possibly allopathic effects associated with the parvenu vegetation has destroyed the ground layer vegetation, both the graminoids and forbs. Eventually the soils are left bare and eroding, sloughing significant quantities of sediment, phosphorus, and nitrogen into our waters. Standing biomass, both living and dead, is consumed by neither fire nor beast, and instead is left to rot to worm and weevil, from which spews forth excessive nitrogen flows that facilitate invasion by shade tolerant nitrophilic species which provide little if any food for bees or bison.
It will require a significant amount of resource to repair these lands, and once repaired, we need to restore or mimic the processes by which the desired community is reinforced, through grazing and fire. But before we can consider the resources and strategies necessary to fix the land, we need to be able to see afforestation; it’s everywhere, and it represents a significant threat to sustainability, not just to pollinators, but to all life.
In This Series
A Plan For A Better Future: Creating a Unified Pollinator Ecology
Premise 1: Pollinators are grazers
Narrative 2: The most powerful terrestrial ecosystem on earth, the Grazing Lawn
Premise 3: Cool season species are cool too
Premise 4: Decrease grass seeding rates, but increase graminoid diversity
Premise 5: Functional groups, niche theory, and seed mix design
Premise 6: Relax the current punitive genotype restrictions
Premise 7: High density patch planting
Premise 8: Nitrogen pollution is a serious threat to pollinators
Premise 9: Make hay, not war
Premise 9: More pollinator habitat through more frequent fire.
Premise 10: Afforestation, an unknown but significant threat to pollinator survival