Friday, May 16, 2008
The Fish and Wildlife Service released the final recovery plan for the northern spotted owl today, emphasizing forest conservation and reducing the threat of rival barred owls. The plan identifies 34 recovery actions necessary to address the risks from the barred owl, timber harvest and catastrophic wildfires. The recovery plan estimates that it will take 30 years and nearly $ 500 million to reach the goal of delisting the spotted owl. However, due to the continued decline in population during the Northwest Forest Plan, the recovery plan calls for immediate actions during the next 10 years.
The plan for the western Cascades is to create a network of 133 Managed Owl Conservation Areas with 6.4 million acres of federal land. In addition, the plan suggests the Forest Service and BLM maintain older, complex forests outside the MOCAs to provide a buffer between barred owl and spotted owl populations. In the eastern Cascades, the plan does not envision a connected network because of wildfires and insect infestation, but instead relies on protecting spotted owl habitat in patches.
As specified in the plan, its long-term objectives are:
• Spotted owl populations are sufficiently large and distributed such that the species no longer requires listing under the ESA.
• Adequate habitat is available for spotted owls and will continue to exist to allow the species to persist without the protection of the ESA.
• The effects of threats have been reduced or eliminated such that spotted owl populations are stable or increasing and spotted owls are unlikely to become threatened again in the foreseeable future.
The "interim expectations" for the next 10 years are:
• The Barred Owl Work Group has quantified the threats from the barred owl on the spotted owl, control techniques and appropriate implementation plans have been developed, and a decision on managing barred owls has been made.
• The MOCA network has been established in the western Provinces with appropriate management of habitat-capable lands inside the MOCAs to support spotted owls.
• The Dry-Forest Landscape Work Group has developed, and Federal land management agencies have initiated and are implementing, a comprehensive program to restore ecological processes and functions, thus reducing the potential for significant habitat loss by stand-replacement fires, insects, and disease.
The final plan is already under attack from both conservation and timber groups for lack of detail about the type and amount of older forests that will be preserved in buffer ranges.
As the global temperature rises, Scandinavian mountains are growing trees that require warm temperatures, such as oak, elm, maple, and black alder. Science Daily reports that studies by Professor Leif Kullman have noted an elevation of timberline by 200 meters, allowing trees to establish in areas that have not been forested for 8,000 years. "The changes are so rapid that plants like fireweed (rose bay) and rowan have even taken root in the gravel up on melting glaciers. Even wood anemones are appearing higher up the mountain," says Leif Kullman,"the alpine world is evincing truly major changes despite the modest increase in temperature. Present prognoses of a temperature increase of three degrees by 2100 will entail considerably more sweeping changes. We can expect fewer bare mountain areas, even more lush vegetation, and a richer flora."
Monday, May 12, 2008
Good reading: Paul Krugman's op-ed piece in yesterday's NY Times poked a hole in the wishful thinking that the increase in oil prices over the last 5 years from $25/barrel to $125/barrel is just a speculator induced bubble. NY Times link The reality is that oil prices are rising and will continue to rise, especially as we start to seriously tackle the global warming problem. It is appalling that McCain and Clinton would support a gas tax holiday to insulate Americans, who generally consume twice as much oil as similarly developed countries, from the consequences of their oil gluttony.
NOAA data indicates that carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has reached new heights. NOAA greenhouse gas index link CO2 levels in the atmosphere now stand at 387 parts per million (ppm), up 40% since the industrial revolution and the highest levels experienced during the last 650,000 years. The annual mean growth rate for 2007 was over 2.1 ppm. In the 1960s, the growth rate was less than 1 ppm. By the 1980s, the growth rate had increased to 1.5 ppm. But since 2000 the annual rise has increased to an average 2.1ppm. This increasing rate of growth in CO2 concentration may indicate that forests and oceans are no longer effectively absorbing CO2 -- this suggests continuing CO2 emissions will have a greater impact on mean global temperature than predicted by existing climate models – requiring deeper cuts in emissions than those recommended by the IPCC to prevent dangerous levels of global warming.