Westford Wildlife Watch – What is a forest for?
What is a forest for? How to count the paths? We know from experience, especially over the past year, how calming and peaceful it is to walk in a forest. We read that trees release chemicals into the air that help them communicate with each other, but which also appear to be soothing to humans. We also know that trees produce most of the food that our wildlife depends on for survival. We know that most birds in the United States feed themselves and their young on the 897 species of caterpillars that oak trees harbor. And at least 100 species of North American birds and mammals feed on acorns. White oak and red oak are perhaps the most important tree in the forest for wildlife. Other species of trees and shrubs found in a forest also provide important food for various birds and other animals.
There is a new recognition at the national level that forests are an essential element in solving our climate crisis. We need to reduce our carbon production in the atmosphere to net zero. This means dramatically reducing our carbon emissions from housing, transportation and manufacturing, and dramatically increasing our carbon capture and sequestration. The only way we know of to capture carbon on a large scale is to leave existing trees standing, a method known as “proforestation”. The state of Massachusetts has passed a climate protection bill called “The Decarbonization Roadmap to 2050,” which includes forest protection as an important part of removing carbon from the atmosphere.
National Geographic in its online blog states, “Deforestation is depleting the Earth’s supply of carbon sinks. As a result, the amount of carbon in the atmosphere increases. The World Resources Institute website states: “Forests absorb twice as much carbon from the atmosphere as they emit. Protecting standing forests is essential for climate change mitigation. Overall, the data shows that keeping existing forests standing is our best hope – the carbon that forests store… .protecting mature primary and secondary forests today is most important in curbing climate change. “
Dr William Moomaw, Emeritus Professor of International Environmental Policy at Tufts University, is the lead author of five reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He is currently looking for natural solutions to climate change. His recent article in Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, June 2019 is titled “Intact Forests in the United States: Proforestation Mitigates Climate Change and Serves the Greatest Good”. Professor Moomaw states: “Unspoiled forests – largely free of human intervention, with the main exception of trails and hazard removal – are the most terrestrial ecosystems … biological sequestration of carbon based on unprecedented nature and ecosystem services such as improved biodiversity, water and air quality, flood and erosion control, public health benefits, low impact recreation and the scenic beauty … The secondary forests of the northeast have the potential to increase biological sequestration between 2.3 and 4.2 times … proforestation provides the most effective solution to the double global crisis – change climate and biodiversity loss … Proforestation is a very inexpensive option to increase carbon sequestration that does not require additional land beyond what is already forested. “
Westford is committed to finding ways to meet the state’s goals and is writing its own roadmap to Net Zero (see the city’s Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee website). Keeping our forests upright should be a main goal of the plan.
A big thank you to all the fauna and flora reporters for the month of September. Please send reports by October 26, for inclusion in next month’s column. You can write to me at 7A Old Colony Drive, call me at 692-3907, or email me at [email protected]
Reports end of July and August
Ginger Dries, Sherwood Drive. July 19, cardinals, two domestic troglodyte nidifications, in two of the three huts, many blackbirds and other blackbirds, a red fox catching squirrels, a bobcat, a deer. August 4, weasel in the yard. Doe and fawn in the yard. A third nesting of one of the pairs of troglodytes. One day the box fell and the feathers were everywhere – weasel?
Kate Hollister, Vine Brook Road. August Report: Since removing my bird feeders, I have noticed a blue bird, goldfinches and hummingbirds. A spotted turtle crossed our lawn to reach the nearby wetlands. Lots of insects, especially a hummingbird butterfly, yellow tiger swallowtail, bumblebee and other bees, monarch butterflies and caterpillars, female white tailed dragonfly, juvenile blue dragonfly and many other damselflies and dragonflies . ” [Kate sent some nice photos of dragonflies-MH]
Diane and Bill Duane, Howard Road. August 25, American Lady butterfly on our butterfly bush [Bill took a beautiful photo-MH]While paddling on Stony Brook we saw two monarchs, three cedar waxwings, 1 spotted sandpiper near East Boston Camps, twelve wood ducks, two beautiful egrets, three great blue herons, a pair of mute swans (one hissed as we paddled near their nest) – We tried to stay as far as possible! Two tenant beavers and at least two beavers, fourteen Canada geese, a multitude of dragons and damselflies, especially the blue ones.
Marilyn Day, Graniteville Road. September 3, loud hawks all summer [Marilyn sent a good photo of two young red-tailed hawks in her Norway Spruce].
Marian / Bill Harman, Old Colony Drive. On September 4, three monarch butterflies seen. From September 12 to the 70s, sunny, magnificent. four chickadees, two chickadees, 2 nuthatches, 6 goldfinches, a minor woodpecker, a hairy woodpecker – no hummingbirds for the first time. On September 13, a hummingbird arrived – it was very shy and nervous – obviously a passing migrant. September 14, sunny. A confident hummingbird at the feeder. September 15th, 72 degrees, cloudy. Two hummingbirds relaxed at the feeder. September 17-70. A relaxed hummingbird filling up with sugar water. It’s the last one we’ve seen this season. On September 26, a neighbor sent a photo of a young red-tailed hawk on her roof.
Rosemarie Koester, Providence Road. September report: at the feeder, turtledoves, blue jays, crested tits, chickadees. Cute wren on the bridge checking the plants. Downy woodpecker female busy on deck and feeder, and pecking at home. Red-bellied woodpecker, lots of domestic finches and goldfinches. Falcons above our heads, birds that flutter and chase. Pair of Cardinals with a Juvenile. Hummingbirds, Red-shouldered Blackbirds and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are gone. Three deer spotted at the back of the yard, rabbits around – one tried to dig under our shed. Chipmunks galore, digging holes. A neighbor saw a coyote in the back of the house. Heard a pack of coyotes making a screeching noise on September 24th. Frogs crossing the street after the rain, bees, wasps in the gardens – happy to see! Interesting mushrooms in the woods, lots of sweet and sour.
Marian Harman is a member of the Westford Conservation Trust, a non-profit conservation organization. The Fiducie welcomes new members and volunteers. Please visit our website at westfordconservationtrust.org or find us on Facebook.