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Forestry

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There's no single culprit responsible for deforestation: around the world, forest cover is lost because of fires, disease, logging, clear-cutting, and myriad other factors. And the environmental consequences threaten to be severe, especially given that deforestation causes an estimated 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

And before experts can effectively mitigate the problem, they need to know where it's happening — and to what extent. Now, a collaborative effort led by the University of Maryland (and including both Google and NASA) has created the first-ever high-resolution map that tracks forest gains and losses over time. Described this week in the journal Science, the map's creation depended on more than a decade of satellite imagery provided by Landsat — a satellite program operated by the US Geological Survey to capture and store images of Earth — combined with the processing prowess of Google Earth Engine.

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Connecticut-based artist Bryan Nash Gill rescues wood from lumberyards and from land near his home, cutting and preparing blocks of different trees, cut lumber, plywood, and even a cedar telephone pole, making relief prints by pressing the inked wood to paper. The results are engrossing documents that tell the story of the wood over time—showing how old it is, how its branches healed over after a cut, what insects lived inside it, the speed and shape of its growth pattern, and even the weather. A swell coffee table companion for hip young DIY-ers who cultivate a lumberjack look that says they’ve come straight from splitting firewood, the new book “Woodcut” is also likely to appeal to a much wider audience.

Captions by Bryan Nash Gill


Red Ash Heartwood. The heartwood is the central nonliving part of the trunk with the densest and hardest wood. This is a full bleed print of the center of the Ash block–the annual ringed radiate form the tree’s first year at the center to the edges of the paper.


Locust. “I discovered this block while cutting split-rail rending. the print showcase the distinct separation of heartwood form sapwood (the softer, more productive layers of wood), as well as the beginning of branching and a ray-like pattern of checks.”


Hemlock. “This trunk was found at a pig farm in Barkhamsted, Connecticut. I was immediately drawn the the strong pattern of the wavy rings (the result of irregularities in the froth of the bole). In the print, a cut branch creates a prominent form that extends from the center to the right edge, and various insect holes dot the lower perimeter of the block.”

Eastern Red Cedar. Red Cedar is often used for fence posts because of its resistance to rot (it has high oil content and is very dense). It also has an attractive purple center and a distinct, familiar smell that repels insects. The piece has a strong outer edge and when found had a vine of poison ivy growing up its bar


Maple. “As I was preparing firewood for the winter, I noticed the undulating outer edge of this maple specimen. Maples generally grow straight and tall in the thick woods, however, at ground level, some take on a naturally curvy shape. Lacking visible growth rings (typical of hard maple wood), the perimeter is imperative to the success of the print. The block also features marks of peeling bark and rot, seen in the white shapes just off center.”

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