Weekend Postcard: vineyard in the Alexander Valley

Alexander Valley vineyard. Probably a valley oak (Querqus lobata) in foreground.

This is another picture of a vineyard in the Alexander Valley, just east of Healdsburg, in Sonoma County of California.

Agriculture is amazing. Long ago, we humans domesticated (formerly) wild plants and animals for our purposes, and changing what they do radically in the process.

This scene looks peaceful, bucolic, and natural. Well, two out of three is not too bad.

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Weekend Postcards of Deforestation

I know the Weekend Postcards are normally devoid of argument and point making. But, I thought it would be fun to look at deforestation differently. To see that deforestation is not necessarily the result of logging (illegal or otherwise). Deforestation comes about from people using the land. Agriculture heads up the list of deforestation causes followed by wood gathering for heating and cooking [Source: Global Forest Resource Assessment 2010Key Findings]. Fires, slash and burn agriculture, mining, and hydro-electric projects also contribute to deforestation.

Agriculture and heating/cooking head the list of causes of deforestation.

Once the primary causes of deforestation are obvious, it becomes equally obvious that lowering the demand for wood (by using less wood or substitutes) will not make a difference in lessening world deforestation. It’s not the demand for lumber or paper that drives deforestation, it’s the demand for food and heating/cooking supplies.

Deforestation results from people trying to survive by eking livings from the land. “Some 350 million people in tropical countries are forest dwellers who derive half or more of their income from the forest. Forests provide directly 10 percent of the employment in developing countries,” says Jeffrey Sayer, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), based in Bogor, Indonesia, which researches better ways to manage and preserve existing forests. CIFOR is one of two CGIAR research institutes that specialize in tropical forestry. A 1996 report by the Consultative Group on International Research (CGIAR) states that:

[T]he main threat to tropical forests comes from poor farmers who have no other option to feeding their families other than slashing and burning a patch of forest and growing food crops until the soil is exhausted after a few harvests, which then forces them to move on to a new patch of forest land. Slash-and-burn agriculture results in the loss or degradation of some 25 million acres of land per year (10 million hectares).

This means that nearly 80% of tropical deforestation in 1995 came from subsistence farmers. (Source: FAO, Annex 6
Earlier global assessments, page 320

Vineyard. Alexander Valley area

Siskiyou county area

Wine grape Vineyard after snowstorm. Lake County, California

Corn field near Cooperstown, New York

Farms may appear idyllic, but they are not ideal from an environmental perspective

Vineyard, Napa County, CA. Agriculture is a primary cause of deforestation.

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Weekend postcard: Alexander Valley

This weekend’s postcards were taken in the Alexander Valley area in Sonoma County near Healdsburg. They were taken last year in May so the grass on the hills had begun turning brown in the shallower and more exposed soils. The grapes were in full leaf.

It was one of those perfect California days. I had gone to Bear Republic Brewery and had a flight of tasters to accompany an incredible lamb burger. Afterward, I went to hear my friend and fellow writer, Ken Dalton talk about what it takes to write his “Pinky and the Bear” series.

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