PSHB: What to do with dead trees

Biochar held in a hand

Your PSHB Infested Tree has died and you are heart broken. You may want to consider one of the following as a fitting farewell:

 It can be burnt and the ash used to sweeten acidic soil or compost
 It can be chipped and solarised, naturally or mechanically, and used as mulch
 It can be chipped and solarised, naturally or mechanically, and then used to make compost
 It can be used to make biochar

Biochar is a stable carbon matrix that has a number of applications:

 Biochar can be used to make terra preta, (black earth in Portuguese) a soil enriching process pioneered in the Amazon 7000 years ago. When correctly applied it increases soil fertility and thus agricultural yield
 Biochar can be used to purify water
 Biochar can be used in at least 55 ways

This then is how I see your dead PSHB infested tree:

I see it as a resource that can improve the quality of life on earth by providing work for unemployed people, for eco-social entrepreneurs to grow a green economy at the micro level…This is how Andrea Rosen from JUFA sees it too, for this is her vision, which she kindly shared with me.

The following videos provide information and training on making and using biochar.

 

Yet not everyone learns by watching videos. It is Andrea Rosen’s wish to offer training in making biochar and terra preta.

The above is all well and good yet perhaps Your Dead PSHB Infested Tree has become a burden or an emergency that you have to dispose of as quickly as possible. If so, consider the following:

 

The Salt of the Earth Option
Call a registered arborist to remove a tree that is dead or beyond remediation. The chopped wood will be burnt or solarised at a private facility with a license to do this. This option passes the responsibility to dispose of the infested wood to a professional and is, I think, the most responsible route to take.

 

The Laissez Faire Option
Call an unregistered tree remover with the tools and skills to do the job for you. Ensure that the wood is removed on the same day and transported to a designated dump site. In Johannesburg, in the absence of this, have them deliver the wood to the dump site in Turfontein. This option passes the responsibility to dispose of the infested wood to the entrepreneur who may or may not do what you ask of him and carries the risk of moving PSHB into areas that are still free of it.

 

The Manly Option
Call your friends to help remove the tree. Or remove the tree yourself. Burn it on your friend’s farm. Yet only if he has permission to burn it. If he doesn’t, find a friend who does for it is illegal to burn wood without permission from the city. If your tree is still standing, wait until the coldest day of the year to cut it down, for it is thought that PSHB can’t fly in temperatures below 12˚. And you don’t want these critters flying about as you move it around.

This option places the responsibility to dispose of the infested wood on your own shoulders and on those who assist you. May the Force be with you!

 

The Practical-Visionary Option
In the dead of night, gather your friends and take your infested tree to the nearest goldmine dump site. Bury it in the sand. This, I think, will work very well, for more reasons than lack of oxygen!

In the meantime, get some oyster mushrooms. Inoculate them in some suitable substrate. Transport this glorious mycelium to your infested tree burial site and let it do its work in cleaning up all the toxins in the dump site. It is bio-remediation at its best. With edible protein as an added benefit.

In the absence of permission to do this, saprophytic mushrooms such as oyster mushrooms may be used on dead wood at all dump sites to clear toxins. What is doubly delightful is that they can also also be used on infested trees to chow the fungus Fusarium euwallaceae without which PSHB beetles cannot survive.

 

The Holy Option
Do what seems best to you. Do it with a smile and perhaps a little ritual of thanksgiving for the tree that has come to the end of its life. Give thanks to Source if a theist you are, or skip, if not.

Regardless, commit to planting a new tree. Take your time in doing this so that the tree you plant is the right one for you. And is planted in the best place you can find for it. And is planted at the right time with the right nutrition for it to thrive in.

Or at least do your best, for with climate change every tree death is a blow and every tree planted an act of hope in a sustainable future for generations to come.

 

Sustainable Productivity

Still, the way I see it, using PSHB infested trees as a medium in which to grow mycelium that make the traces of lead, arsenic, copper, cyanide etc inert would a blessing for our community whose health is negatively affected by all these toxins in the many gold mine dumps dotting our landscape.

If by good fortune I get the chance to persuade the powers that be to undertake such a task please support me by sending me your PSHB infested wood. Once these are eradicated the project will be complete and I’ll happily move on to the next one for there is plenty of work to be done to move us out of robotic productivity into sustainable productivity that involves respect across systems of perceiving reality.

I am interested in inclusive projects that provide work for currently unemployed people while cleaning up the toxicity that our forefathers left behind for us to deal with. They did their best with the knowledge and tools they had. It is our turn now to make decisions that heal our relationship with the earth by providing present and future generations with livelihoods that reduce harmful footprints.

I am interested in applying solutions that we currently know work and are fair, earth friendly and people friendly. Yet today’s scientific wisdom might be tomorrow’s stupidity so humility might be a great way to approach this challenge. On this note you might enjoy the following Ted Talk. I did.

Sources:

Andrea Rosen: www.jufa.org.za
Nici Richter: Sustainable Permaculture Solutions

Resources:

The 55 Uses of Biochar:
https://www.biochar-journal.org/en/ct/2-The-55-uses-of-biochar

How Mushrooms work to clean up toxic messes:
https://www.resilience.org/?type=Filter+by&s=mushrooms+clean+up+our+toxic+messes