So it began... on a small scale at first. On December 23rd the two main ideas of capturing CO2 and forest fruit production were initiated. CO2 capture
50 trees were donated by the MedForFuture initiative. This project aims to test which species are likely to do well with new climate conditions. doing well means growing faster and therefore capturing more CO2. The CRPF (French government body regulating private forests) recommended locations for the plantations. They marked the locations with florescent paint, the paint is formulated to dissolve over time. It did just that, only faster than expected because of the heavy downpours we experienced (rainfall was 2X the normal levels this year - part of climate change?). Atlas Cedar and Slazman Pines are two of several species “migrating North”. Others come from far away places like the canari island oak or Junipers from California.
Thankfully, i was provided the GPS locations of the trees. I mapped these coordinates to google earth, and then went on to acquire and map NDVI satellite images to assess where the experts had elected to position the planting locations. Interesting to note they elected to recommend locations where vegetation density was mostly already high.
Soil was very moist from heavy downpours weeks preceding the planting. More rain has fallen since in temperatures that have rarely dipped below freezing. This should help with short term survival rates but is it a good thing in the long run? Young trees that experience tougher/dryer conditions tend to grow deeper roots faster.
Forest Fruits & Medicinal (Manuka) Honey
The other part of the plan involves a diversification and creation of new funding sources. Lumbering the forest in 30 years will do little to help fund the investment needed to plant new trees now. Planting costs averge €3.5 - €4.5 per tree depending on the specie of tree. Truffle trees which require mycorriza can cost €10-12. A mycorrhiza (from Greek μύκης mýkēs, "fungus", and ῥίζα rhiza, "root"; pl. mycorrhizae, mycorrhiza or mycorrhizas) is a symbiotic association between a fungus and a plant.
Reying solely on donations is not an option I’m confortable with. CO2 credits requires extensive and expensive certification I cannot afford at present.
My plan is therefore to produce high-value products from the forest. I have identified a few candidates but i need more ideas and more expertise to be successful. The candidates I am pursuing include:
- Truffles. historically grown on the this land for decades. it sells for 1500€/kg. (!) New oak trees need to be planted to “rejuvinate” production. It will take 3 years before any truffle is harvested from this investment. it is also quite expensive (€10-12 per tree) because a fungus innoculation is needed (mycorrhiza process) - from Greek μύκης mýkēs, "fungus", and ῥίζα rhiza, "root"; pl. mycorrhizae, mycorrhiza or mycorrhizas) is a symbiotic association between a fungus and a plant.
- Manuka Honey Manuka honey comes originally from New Zealand. it is sells for €250-300/kg. Manuka will most likely not grow on a limestone-rich soil where freezing temperatures are a regular occurrence. However, I will attempt to plant Manuka in protected areas in the forest (near stone walls or rocks which store heat during rhe day ans release it at night thus delaying or preventing freezing around them). Manuka trees have relatives like the myrtle. Myrtle does grow well around the Mediterranean sea. Rising temperatures make its adaptation to this land possible according to experts. This is a plant I have included in my 200 feet hedge planted on 23rd Decembre.
manuka flower ( Leptospermum scoparium)
Myrtle Flower (myrtus communis)
I should add that myrtle honey is known to contain the active ingredient in Manuka honey. (Methylglyoxal)