Thursday, September 28, 2017

Re-Growth of Forest After the Flood

When the Earth emerged from the Flood after being inundated for one hundred and fifty days (Genesis 7:24), there were no living things left alive upon it (Genesis 7:22)—every living thing had been killed: “And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark” (Genesis 7:23).    So, since all things died, there is usually a question about how did forests begin and grow, and get so tall that there were trees available for the Jaredites to make barges. This sometimes leads to the question, “Did the Lord have a hand in re-growing forests around the world after the Flood?”
The unique Baobab trees were already growing in Salalah when the Jaredites arrived, as well as when Lehi arrived

When Lehi reached the Salalah Plain and the area of Khor Rori, there were huge forests in nearby areas, including a unique Baobab Forest along the wadi Hinna in Dhofar, which were probably the trees the Jaredites used to build their submersible barges. Baobab trees, locally known as Ankiji or Al Mashwa, grow naturally in the Hinnah Valley of the Hasheer Mountain in the Mirbat wilayat of Dhofar governorate. They grow alone in the Dhalkut wilayat, as well as in the wilayats of Sohar and Liwa in the North Al Batinah governorate. Numerous other forests grow in the wadi Dirbat area above Khor Rori.
White circle shows the location of the Baobab Forest near Khor Rori; Green circle shows wadi Dirbat, where numerous forests exist

A forest planted by humans, or seeded by nature, and left alone to nature’s own devices, typically takes at least 100 years to mature, though the Baobab tree can take several hundred years to reach its great height and girth. Since the time between the Flood (about 2344 B.C.) and the when the Jaredites arrived (about 2100 B.C.) at the sea, there would not have been sufficient time for the Baobab tree to have been planted and grow to sufficient size for the barges the Jaredites needed—even though it takes only 15 years for the fast-growing Baobab tree to reach maturity, but up to 200 years to reach its maximum size; and the more moist the climate, the faster the tree grows. Of course, the 1700 years between the Flood and when Lehi reached Bountiful would have been more than sufficient to have grown numerous mature forests.
Despite the great height of these trees, this forest has grown really, really fast

However, what if a forest could be made to grow in one tenth the time, i.e., ten times faster than normal? Of course, science would never consider such an anomaly, since it would go against their standard, mainstream paradigms. Yet, there is at least one group that has achieved breakthrough technology in tree growth under the direction and creativity of one man, Shubhendu Sharma, an Eco-entrepreneur that has found a way to develop afforestation methods that make it easy to plant maintenance-free, wild and biodiverse forests anywhere in the world, that grow with the efficiency of industrial processes.
    As an industrial engineer from India, specializing in making cars, along with 78-year-old Akira Miyawaki, a Japanese forest expert, who had found a way to make a forest grow in one tenth the time, put togerther a group, which promotes a standardized method of seeding dense, fast-growing, native forests in barren lands, using Sharma’s car-manufacturing acumen to create a system allowing a multilayer forest of 300 trees to grow on an areas as small as the parking spaces of six cars for less than the price of an iPhone.  
Sharma making a presentation about his fast tree-growing forestry program to avid listeners around the world

Already, his group has helped grow forests at homes, schools and factories. Sharma has seen improvement in air quality, an increase in biodiversity, and the forests even generate fresh fruit. The group is at work on a platform that will offer hardware probes to analyze soil quality, allowing the company to offer step-by-step instructions for anyone who wants to grow a native forest anywhere in the world.
    According to Sharma, Forests don't have to be far-flung nature reserves, isolated from human life. Instead, they can grow a forest right where people are—even in cities. Eco-entrepreneur and TED Fellow Shubhendu Sharma grows ultra-dense, biodiverse mini-forests of native species in urban areas by engineering soil, microbes and biomass to kickstart natural growth processes, that results in growing 100-year-old forest in just 10 years.
    Miyawaki, who is himself quite famous, is very old. He has planted around 40 million trees all over the world, and in 2006, he won the Blue Planet Prize, the equivalent to the Nobel Prize in the environmental field.
Sharma’s forest are dense and tightly packed

His method’s based on what’s called “potential natural vegetation”—a theory that if a piece of land is free from human intervention, a forest will naturally self-seed and take over that land within a period of around 600 to 1,000 years, with the species that would be native and robust, and that would require no maintenance. Miyawaki’s methodology amplifies that growth process to establish a mature, native forest in ten years — ten times the normal rate of forests planted by humans.
    After meeting Miyawaki and studying his methodologies, Sharma then planted a forest of 300 trees of 42 species in a 305-square-foot plot in his back garden. It was such a success that he decided to quit the auto industry to start a for-profit group devoted to planting native forests for all kinds of clients, from farmers to corporations to city governments.
    The process he uses takes six steps:
The choice of soil and nutrients and natural ingredients is critical to achieve a fast growing forest

1. First, identify the nutrients the soil of the location lacks;
2. Then identify what species of trees should be growing in that soil, which depends on the climate;
3. Then identify locally abundant biomass available in that region to give the soil whatever nourishment it needs (This is typically an agricultural or industrial byproduct — like chicken manure or press mud, a byproduct of sugar production — but it can be almost anything. Sharma works with the rule that it must come from within 30 miles of the site, which means he has to be flexible);
4. Once he’s amended the soil to a depth of three feet, he plants saplings that are up to 30 inches high, packing them in very densely — three to five saplings per 3 square foot.
5. The forest itself must cover a 329-square-foot minimum area. This grows into a forest so dense that after eight months, sunlight can’t reach the ground. At this point, every drop of rain that falls is conserved, and every leaf that falls is converted into humus. The more the forest grows, the more it generates nutrients for itself, accelerating further growth. This density also means that individual trees begin competing for sunlight — another reason these forests grow so fast.
6. The forest needs to be watered and weeded for the first two or three years, at which point it becomes self-sustaining. After that, it’s best to disturb the forest as little as possible to allow its ecosystem, including animals, to become established.
Two-year old forest, tall and thickly packed and very healthy

Of course, you have to keep an eye on the forest in case of changing conditions. Rainfall patterns, for example, are different from what they were in the past, and that could affect native species. Oman, where a forestation project is now going on, is getting more rainfall year after year, so biodiversity is actually increasing. They’ve gone from having to plant thorny, bushy species that can grow in any desert to choosing more deciduous species.
    This is why, for every species chosen, a thorough survey is first conducted, in order to use real-time data, and gathering information for a native species databases. So while a book on native trees may say that a certain species belongs to a particular geographic region, but until they see that a species grows full bloom and in good health in that region with their own eyes, they won’t select it as a forestation species.
    Thus, they let each forest grow and see what will or won’t live in complete harmony with surrounding species. Those that die, they do not replace—that’s nature. It evolves by trial and error. The funny thing is, Sharma has no expertise about how to determine native species for forest, but worked around it by applying his experience at working with supplier development teams, organizing assembly lines and dispatch system for cars being manufactured in India, and applied those principles to forests, developing a computer program that registers tree species’ specific parameters, such as how high it grows, in what months it blooms, the kinds of temperatures it can tolerate, and so on.
    For example, if there’s a species that grows up to 50 feet, the one planted next to it should grow only up to 20, because they do not want a conflict after five years. In other words, they use car-assembly logic to pick an ideal combination of trees to best utilize vertical space. So it’s not any individual expert who decides what species to plant, at what ratios: the software figures it out.
A native forest has to be biodiverse to thrive — including a mix of at least 50 to 100 different species. So if market demand encourages farmers to nurture only fruit species, they will ignore the non-useful species, and the forest won’t survive. Thus, these forests aren’t necessarily good for producing single cash crops. A native forest has to be biodiverse to thrive — including a mix of at least 50 to 100 different species.
    Sharma’s group grows four different types of forest—if he is designing a forest for a corporate setting, the primary agenda will be aesthetics — a higher ratio of species with flowers, for instance. If he wants a forest primarily for the sake of water conservation, the tree species should grow huge and have deep roots. In a public park, they choose species that grow small fruits to attract birds, appealing to park visitors. A forest on a farm would include more fruit species in the mix — up to half, including nuts, which offer high value as they can be preserved for a long time. Other useful trees for farming communities include those that produce oil seeds, fodder for cattle, or firewood for humans. So the combination depends on space and the priorities of the client.
    Natural native forests are beneficial because they require no maintenance, in contrast to most urban landscaping, which is immensely resource-intensive, diminishing its ecological value.
    The point is, if man can come up with this marvelous, fast-growing method of forestation, what more would the Lord know in developing the reforestation of the planet after the Flood? Certainly, when it is said nothing is beyond the Lord, the ancient prophets understood the Lord and his dealings much better than man does today. The idea of fast-growing forests, growing in ten years what normally would take 100 years, should suggest to each of us that the Lord can bring about marvelous and amazing things that would seem far beyond our reach if we are not knowledgeable of the possibilities.
    Think of this unique spot along the Oman coast that is a veritable garden of forests and luxuriant growth surrounded by the largest sand desert in the world. Until it was seen in the mid-twentieth century, critics took delight in criticizing Joseph Smith and his "Bountiful" location. But the Lord knew, Lehi and Nepih knew, Joseph Smith translating and now we all know that such a garden existed and still exists in this tiny area along the southern Arabian coast.
Amidst the largest sand desert in the world, is the luxuriantly green Salalah Plain where Lehi arrived and named Bountiful

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