Florida face lift


We are now winding down our trip on the East coast of Florida and loafing around by the beach in the oak hammocks near St Augustine. Oak hammocks are the native forests of which live oak is the predominant species. Also mixed in are hickories. On our walk to a spectacular old growth oak hammock we walked through stands of plantation long leaf pine.

Apparently, the U.S Forest Circus cut down vast tracks of native hammock here and replaced them with rows of single species pine for pulp and lumber. Much of the Southeastern U.S. has been treated likewise. The Acornucopia Project has faced some skepticism from people when I talk about it in terms of an industrial scale. How simple would it be to simply to redirect government services to switch pine seedlings with native oak seedlings? After all, these are supposed to be public lands with their use ultimately determined by us. The land is sandy and poor but the oaks are well adapted to it. Corn and soy could not be grown here but acorns can. If we planted oak seedlings for food and set up the orchards for mechanical harvesting we could be producing unimaginable amounts of food in marginal lands with hardly any inputs. At the very least we would have food "on reserve" in times of want. We would also be aiding and abetting ecological diversity by establishing native habitat for flora and fauna, sequestering carbon and stabilizing soil. Imagine if we developed improved varieties of these oak trees to increase productivity even more?

This is a native oak hammock. Native oaks could be replanted in rows for industrial efficiency and still maintain the integrity of native forests. The undergrowth (weeds) would be managed as nature has done over the eons not with toxic chemicals, but with fire during years of abundant mast..

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