[permaculture] Ecosystem Diversity & Bio-mass: Prairies vs. Forests

Carla McAuley carlamcauley at earthlink.net
Fri Jul 5 09:09:53 EDT 2002

I lived in an oak forest in Central Texas, east of Austin, for years in the
late sixties and most of the seventies (where I met Scott Pittman in 1968,
by the way) and it had  sprung up as a result of the land -- mostly sandy
loam -- being "cottoned out" in the late 1800's.  After cotton takes almost
all of the nitrogen out, the only thing that will grow is sweet potatoes and
watermelon, and radishes which will grow in pure sand.  That wasn't enough
of an economical return on the labor so the land fell into disuse.  When
they quit plowing the land, the pin oak trees took over.  My guess is that
the forest is 75 to 100 years old.  Was that before the juniper and mesquite
had gotten a foothold?

It seems to me that what fosters and maintains the juniper and mesquite and
keeps out the pine and oak is cattle ranching.  But that's just an educated

Good luck with your research.  I'd like to know more about it, myself.

  -----Original Message-----
  From: permaculture-admin at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:permaculture-admin at lists.ibiblio.org]On Behalf Of Kirby Fry
  Sent: Thursday, July 04, 2002 7:14 PM
  To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
  Subject: [permaculture] Ecosystem Diversity & Bio-mass: Prairies vs.

  Hello From Texas,

  I'm looking for studies and information about the diversity and bio-mass
of Texas prairies as compared to Texas woodlands.  Other general info is
also certainly welcome.

  Several folks whose main objective is restoring the prairies of Texas, a
very worthy endeavor, would do so at the expense of the woody brush and
woodlands that have begun to cover disturbed prairie lands - namely juniper,
mesuite and other "invasive" brush species.

  That prairies are more diverse than woodlands is another justification for
clearing trees.

  I'm also hearing that prairies have more bio-mass than forests, and that
prairies have a higher ratio of underground bio-mass than woodland systems

  Discussion and documented sources of information appreciated.

  Kirby Fry

  For the real scoop on environmental and social justice issues check out
the archives of Democracy Now!

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