Trees and forests for health, for dryland, Iceland, Amazon, and all in between

Hi everyone, this is Geoff, in this third month of autumn or spring, depending on what part of the world you’re in! Or…“Kambarang” (long dry periods), or “Parra’dowee” (warm and wet), in Australian Aboriginal (regional) descriptions of seasons.

Just three more days left for working on the ‘Greening the Desert – Sequel’ project. We’ve been filming our reports so as to keep everyone updated on our progress. Will post them soon!

So, welcome to another week’s Friday Five! This week I’m focusing on trees and forests.

Threat Bigger than Expected: I wrote recently about the biological reserve in Los Cedros being under serious threat. After collaborating with Ecuadorean researchers, the Rainforest Information Centre has learned that this reserve was just one of 39 protected forests that have been secretly conceded to mining companies. These are the most species-rich ecosystems on the planet and we need a huge international outcry to rescind these concessions and protect these reserves.

No kidding: ‘More trees, less disease’, what a surprise! This is very obvious to those of us working in the real world. Brendan Fisher of University of Vermont’s Gund Institute and Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources says this report, “…shows, very clearly, how ‘natural infrastructure’ can directly support human health and welfare.”

More dryland forest found!: Drylands in their natural state are often forested, and perform much better ecologically when they are. With improved mapping technology, we have just discovered an extra million hectares of forests in drylands. These need to be extended and all drylands, where possible, forested…ASAP!

Regreening Iceland: There’s no question about it, Iceland can definitely put back the forest – better and more diverse than ever before in history. Iceland was first settled, by Vikings, at end of the ninth century. Dr. Gudmundur Halldorsson, of the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland said, “…much of the land on or near the coast was covered in birch woodlands…The people that came here were Iron Age culture”. They slashed and burned, they used the timber for building and for charcoal for their forges – within 3 centuries Iceland was a ‘wet desert’. But Iceland can be reforested – with pioneer species such as lyme grass, lupine, and then appropriate saplings depending on the plot

Amazonians cultivated forest: After the arrival of Europeans, much of Amazonian civilization was wiped out. “But it didn’t disappear entirely. Left behind was a verdant, leafy legacy in the untold numbers of palms and other trees that had been cultivated across the Amazon.” This study is a glimpse of the food-forested world of the future – our only hope in all climates.

Some of this week’s new posts: See our sister site, the non-profit Permaculture Research Institute:

These articles are just some of thousands and several new ones go up every week!

Thanks for checking in to this week’s Friday Five! In a bit more than a week and I’ll back in Australia, in time for some of the coming events at Zaytuna Farm.

You’re welcome to forward this email to friends, anyone can sign up for the next edition. I value your comments!

Cheers, and enjoy the journey.

Your friend,


P.s. I’ve put together another video bringing attention to the Los Cedros project. You can find it on Youtube and on Facebook.

2017-11-04T22:56:24+00:00 Blog|2 Comments
  • Corey Schmidt

    As I live in Alaska, I was excited by the article about Iceland. I would love to see the Iceland reforestation projects include edibles like korean nut pine and sea buckthorn, and maybe fast growing poplars for windbreaks.

  • Sandra Frankel

    Hi Geoff,
    I was fascinated and horrified by your initial post about the biological reserve in Los Cedros being under serious threat by the power companies ! I didn’t know there existed pristine forests that dated back to the ice age.

    You mention the need for legal action to be taken and letters to be written to force the hand of those that would destroy forever this pristine forest.

    I would like to connect you to the most potent and effective force that I know about. Josh Del Sol made the documentary Take Back Your Power about smart meters and the smart grid, and subsequent documentaries about how to proceed with this process. Using a very specific legal process involving naming individuals and
    legally assigning them direct liability and responsibility for their role in the actions of their organizations. The approach detailed in the documentary below has had unprecedented success in cutting through the red tape, and getting action, through LIABILITY ! This is the one that outline the legal liability process.

    Please check this out and share it with others who are directly involved with this project. The In Power group may also be willing to help you with this.

    Thank you for all you give, your vision, caring heart, creativity, curiosity and goodness.