Hello STEMsocial community. My name is Naza. Today I’ll be writing about Organic Forestry from the viewpoint of a Forestry and Wildlife Student (almost graduate). It’s going to be very educative because I’ll be breaking it down to very tiny bits that you can understand properly.
Organic Forestry is as the word ‘organic’ implies, it means the use of natural resources, with very little or no impact on the environment. It doesn’t require synthetic inputs nor external remedies and it constructively interacts with natural systems and cycles. It is important to note that chemicals are not encouraged in organic forestry. It uses nutrients gotten from plant and animal based fertilizers and nitrogen-fixing cover crops. The need for organic forestry arose from damage caused from the use of synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides. It aims to increase productivity and repair environmental damage on the soil.
There are various ways by which forests can be conserved organically, it could be by any of the following means;
A. Conservation of soil and management of fertility: This can be achieved with;
- The use of compost manure: Compost manure is simply decomposed plant material that is used in place of artificial fertilizers and is used to promote the general qualities of the soil. Compost manure helps to minimize leaching and loss of nutrients in the soil. It preserves important soil components including soil carbon, which is a major provider of energy in the soil and aids healthy growth of forest trees.
Mixed farming: This is a system of farming that involves the growing of crops along with the rearing of livestock on the same piece of land. This helps to promote organic forestry in the sense that the soil is fertilized with the manure gotten from the animal’s dung. This way the forest does not depend on synthetic means of fertilization. This method is symbiotic as the livestock depend on crops produced on the land and they graze on the land too, this grazing activity (proper grazing though) builds the soil by enhancing soil carbon and nitrogen in the soil. They promote the biological status of the soil, hence improving the health of the soil. Proper grazing because overgrazing disturbs the soil structure, reduces carbon in the soil, affects photosynthesis and affects the general lifespan of the soil.
Crop rotation: Crop rotation involves the cultivation of entirely different species of crops on a piece of land. It is important in organic forestry as it helps to prevent the occurrence of diseases, pests and reduces the chances of resistant pests and weeds. These things should be avoided since we’re trying to maintain organic forestry, because synthetic help might have to be employed in a situation where there is a severe case of an outbreak of forest diseases or pest infestation.
B. Control of Weed, Pest and Diseases: This involves careful plan and choice of crops to plant on the piece of land. Crops to be considered include;
Indigenous plants: These are plants that occur naturally and have adapted to a particular region and its conditions naturally because they were not planted there by man in the first place. Conditions like humidity, rainfall, flooding, temperature, pressure, etc are not new to these specie of plants growing there. Unlike exotic species (one that is not native to a region), indigenous plants can be resistant to weed, pests and diseases.
Resistant plants: These are plants that have the natural ability to escape harsh or unfriendly conditions such as diseases, weeds and pests; without causing any much damage to the plant. These kind of plants can help to control disease and pest outbreaks.
Observing Good Cultivation Practices: As plants are seasonal in nature it is important to plant at the right time. This will help to minimize diseases, pests and weeds.
C. Good animal husbandry: As we already know, mixed farming is practiced in organic forestry. The rearing, care and production of domestic animals on the farm is called Animal husbandry. It is a branch of agriculture which supports organic forestry (as discussed earlier). Creating space for these animals on the forest ground is very important.
Benefits of Organic Forestry
Fewer pesticides in use: The natural way of grooming a forest does not require external inputs, so pesticide use is largely reduced. This saves cost and also allows the forest soil build itself organically.
Reduced risk of soil erosion: As we are now aware, organic forestry makes use of natural means, which means synthetic and chemical fertilizers/pesticides are not present. The absence of these help to retain the forest’s topsoil and thus, prevents soil erosion.
Improved soil health: Natural forestry helps to improve the overall health status of the soil as there is minimized chemical and mechanized inputs on the soil.
Reduced pollution: Synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides pose the threat of pollution of groundwater. Curbing the use of these and replacing them with organic means encourages an improved soil structure and better water absorption in the soil.