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Trees can help save us from climate catastrophe

Trees can help save us from climate catastrophe

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Humans have a moral obligation to stop climate change. This must happen wherever and however possible. We must quickly develop climate protection policies, laws, and regulations now and for future generations.

Without question, human actions such as burning fossil fuels is the main cause of climate change. Forest protection and conservation is the most powerful nature-given sequestration of carbon on the planet.

The delicate atmosphere surrounding our planet earth is an onion-skin-like protection layer shielding life on earth from the powerful sun's rays. All people on our planet must take an honest part in reducing their carbon footprint and protect trees everywhere for sequestration of greenhouse gases to prevent damage to the atmosphere leading to climate change.

Scientists in Switzerland recently estimated it could cost the world $300 billion to plant 0.9 billion hectares of trees that can dramatically reduce greenhouse gases, thereby slowing down climate change that promises to destroy civilization as we know it. By restoring forests everywhere we can dial down climate change by two thirds within 40-100 years, according to Swiss science on forest regeneration worldwide (

This scientific study also provides a Global Information Systems (GIS) tool everyone can use to suggest where in their landscapes of climate survival, we can plant trees.

In Napa, deforestation comes in the form of converting forests to wine grapes in steep mountains. Corporate vineyard developers in Napa and throughout the North Coast of California seem to ignore the moral obligation to protect forests, such as, Hall Brambletree Associates, LP/Walt Ranch, which plans to covert 209 acres of oak woodlands/28,616 trees throughout their 2,300 acres in Napa wild lands.

Portions of this clear-cutting will be in Napa’s Milliken Creek Municipal Reservoir watershed. There is also concern Hall Brambletree Associates LP, will further develop Walt Ranch into 35 mega-mansions, continuing to degrade the water source of the city of Napa along with even more degradation of the forest with no environmental review needed.

Last year, an environmental grassroots movement that started over 22 years ago culminated into the Water Quality and Tree Protection Ordinance (WQTPO) of 2018 passed by the Napa County Supervisors to create limited stream water quality buffers and tree protection in some areas of the county’s watershed lands.

This ordinance is not enough. It will not stop the wine industry from deforestation, deep ripping, contouring and loss of wildlife habitat all the way to the mountain ridge tops.

During the public hearing debates of the WQTPO, the Board of Supervisors had an opportunity to limit future expansion of vineyards in steep watershed areas by forbidding deforestation over 30 percent slopes. However, vineyard developers complained that the future for wine growing must have land available to the ridge tops.

Consequently, prohibiting deforestation over 30 percent slopes was deleted from the WQTPO. The primary outcome of the WQTPO for habitat protection is to retain 70 percent of the natural landscape per parcel. The problem is 30 percent habitat loss per parcel at build out has a catastrophic hydrologic impact on flooding, groundwater recharge and habitat fragmentation not considered in the WQTPO.

Nature’s hydrologic balance is altered due to climate change. It is all about water; either we have too much or not enough. We experience this in Napa with declining groundwater aquifers and flooding where deforestation contributes to this significantly.

Forests are nature's natural sponge percolating rain water to aquifer recharge areas, filtering pollutants, providing cool micro-climates and wildlife habitat for mountain lions, bears, salmon, Northern Spotted Owls and Red Legged Frogs and important diverse flora.

Napa should lead the way, as we have in the past with the Agricultural Preserve, the Slow Growth Ordinance and the Flood Management Project by largely protecting forest and lead by example to others who are destroying rain forests around the world at an alarming pace.

Forest protection and regeneration of forest landscapes is a race to beat climate change. If we put off re-foresting the earth, more droughts, floods, and fires will diminish our chances of growing new forests that can get a foothold and grow in this already diminished and weakened world environment.

As the frequency and duration of monster hurricanes, floods, fire, drought and melting glaciers threatens water security around our planet, we must change our destructive climate-altering actions upon earth. Climate refugees are suffering everywhere, and species extinction is at an all-time high. It is humans who created climate change and it is humans who must race to stop it.

Chris Malan


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