Going Green

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Brush, Water, Grass and Carbon Sequestration

The article below is one that opens a lot of issues for me. Juniper, mesquite and other woody brush referred to in the article are invasive species overrunning grassland. One of the reasons the grassland has been overrun is fire suppression practices.

The article discusses the concept that allowing the brush to remain is a method for sequestering carbon in an effort to combat "global warming." The natural order would be to allow fire to periodically remove large portions of the brush and sculpt a mixed prairie grassland with patches of brush interspersed with large open areas of grassland and occasional oak trees. Of course fire would release carbon into the atmosphere. It seems that failure to burn brush in California has created an extreme fire hazard.

I keep getting the feeling that we don't know enough to know what we don't know....

Research Could Change Perception of Woody Species Use of Water in Edwards Plateau

July 30, 2008
Writer(s): Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259,b-fannin@tamu.edu
Contact(s): Dr. Jim Heilman, 979-845-7169, j-heilman@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – New research suggests that juniper, mesquite and other woody brush that have overrun grasslands on the Edwards Plateau of west-central Texas aren’t the water hogs that they were thought to be.

Further, bulldozing this brush may not be wise, because it would remove plants that take in lots of carbon from the atmosphere, making them a potential ally in efforts to counter global warming.

These are the findings of Dr. Jim Heilman, a Texas AgriLife Research scientist and professor of environmental physics in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M University.

“People have this idea that trees are suction pumps, that if you have all of this landscape and big trees, much more water is used,” he said. “Not true. What drives water use is...(complete article here).

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