How do you manage an overgrown, overrested clear cut to become a native forest again?

We are walking along the fence line to the neighbor’s property. The sandy path is the only way to walk without getting smacked by Scotch Broom or cut by blackberries.

So much Scotch Broom.

The tree plot was clear cut years ago and then left. And now it’s a Scotch Broom party. It reminds me of my visit to Portugal earlier this year where it was also “Spanish Broom everywhere!” after the big fires in 2017.

It is a pioneer plant, colonizing places after big disturbances. It also fixes nitrogen and prepares the soil for further succession. But it also smothers tree seedlings and slows down reforestation efforts.

Like here.

I stand next to Megan and look into the jungle. “We want to support the regrowth into a native forest.” The neighbor who bought this Scotch Broom plot wanted to get the bulldozers in and then replant from scratch.

Megan, her mother, and sisters asked for this winter to manually cut back the shrub to find and save the trees that have already established – somewhere in between.

Cutting back a shrub that is over 7 feet tall in places and feels more like they are the trees here.

Only two hours later I look at the battlefield of our party of 7. I would have never thought how much could be done in this short time frame only with shears and the occasional use of a small electric chain saw. The not-so-tiny tree seedlings we’ve found shine proudly with their pink tape.

I didn’t find a fir or pine but was pretty happy with my holly.

“If we can show by the end of the winter that we have cleared this upper area and have given the young trees a head start, then we can continue with the rest. It is our weekend ritual now.”

I was pretty impressed with the energy and determination my in-law family is here to design the future landscape within their context – for their own forest and together with their neighbors who are along for the wonderful crazy ride to reestablish a healthy, thriving, and resilient forest.

Holistic Management
Holistic Management


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