Climate Change Reforestation, Epiphytes

Water vapour resulting from evapotranspiration rises from a rain forest to form low level clouds. Mt Whitfield. Photo: David Clode.

Water vapour resulting from evapotranspiration rises from a rain forest to form low level clouds. Mt Whitfield. Photo: David Clode.


About climate change, carbon, carbon dioxide, reforestation, deforestation, cloud condensation nuclei, water vapour, transpiration, evapotranspiration, cloud seeding, cloud stripping,  cloud formation, rain, water plants, epiphytes, environment, global warming, carbon fixation/carbon sequestration, agroforestry. See also the “Environment Quotes” and “Climate Change Quotes” pages on this site.


Some major concerns are the astronomical negative costs to society of reducing emissions for little or no benefit, the opportunity cost this represents, and that reforestation is virtually ignored as a means of sequestering carbon and acting as a buffer against the possible problem of climate change through low level cloud formation.

The problem of anthropogenic climate change is grossly overstated (there has been no significant global warming for the past 18 years, while Co2 emissions have consistently risen throughout this period – 2016), and cutting emissions is usually the only option pursued or given consideration, resulting in vast sums being spent ($10 billion US dollars per month worldwide on the Kyoto Protocol (Plimer 2009), and COP 21, where the developed world has promised $US100 billion a year by 2020 in assistance to poorer countries (Lomborg 2015), for no significant result. This represents shockingly poor prioritisation, plus an opportunity cost, where funds, time, and energy spent on attempting to avert possible climate change through cutting emissions, are then not available for better solutions, including reforestation, and not available for solving more important problems. For example: “…the cost of the Kyoto Protocol for the U. S. alone, even with Annex 1 trading, would more than amply cover the entire expense for providing the whole of mankind with clean drinking water and sanitation. It is estimated that this would avoid several million deaths every year and prevent half a billion people becoming seriously ill each year. This would probably be better help for the developing countries than a temperature reduction from Kyoto of 0.15 degrees C in 2100”. (Lomborg).

Misty forest, Mt Mooroobool, Cairns, Australia. Photo: David Clode.

Misty forest, Mt Mooroobool, Cairns, Australia. Photo: David Clode.

The issues have become clouded with corrupt politics and science so poor it shouldn’t be called science (see the Tim Ball quote further down this page), with reforestation as a possible solution to AGW/climate change either downplayed, ignored, or even deliberately misrepresented (e.g. the FACE experiment in the book “Fixing Climate”)

On this site, practical, cost-effective reforestation with multi-storey forests is presented as a way to effectively fix carbon, to increase water vapour which has a buffering effect on possible climate change, and to increase low-level, dense clouds, which reflect incoming solar radiation and have a cooling effect.

Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide increases plant growth (and is therefore an aid to reforestation) and so the “problem” of increased carbon dioxide can instead be seen as a golden opportunity to start and/or massively increase worldwide reforestation, environmental restoration, food production and soil improvement programs. A much better way to spend around 10 billion US dollars per month.

Former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd stated on numerous occasions that climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. On this web site, numerous at least partial solutions to anthropogenic Co2 induced climate change are offered free of charge and on a silver platter, and yet uptake of any these solutions is conspicuous by its absence. This is yet more evidence that the real agenda is in fact a socialist scam intended to cripple developed nations, and keep developing nations undeveloped (and therefore keep millions or even billions of people in unnecessary poverty and misery), by depriving them of cheap, reliable, carbon-based energy. If this analysis is correct, then the whole anthropogenic climate change scare is a crime against humanity.

I am waiting for the IPCC (or anyone for that matter) to contact me, so that I can help with reforestation projects around the world, and so help to avert calamitous climate change.

Five years now, and still waiting. A lot of trees could have been planted in the last five years. Still waiting. 03/04/2017: not waiting anymore.


“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Mark Twain

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

“Anthropogenic climate change is a storm in a tea cup.” David Clode

The Sun is likely to be the major player in climate change, followed by clouds, water vapour, and ocean currents, and the interaction between these, with the greenhouse effect of secondary and relatively minor importance, where water vapour is the dominant greenhouse gas, not carbon dioxide, and the anthropogenic carbon dioxide contribution to the natural carbon cycle is relatively puny. In the grand scheme of things, anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions is a red herring, and focusing nearly all our attention on reducing emissions may be one of the least effective, and most damaging, of ways of dealing with possible climate change.

Keeping things in perspective. The size of the Sun and the size of the Earth. Photo:

Keeping things in perspective. The size of the Sun and the size of the Earth. Photo:

One million Earths could fit into the Sun, which has a diameter of 864,000 miles (1,390,000km). It makes up 99 percent of our solar system’s mass (Baumann et al 2007). The Sun puts out about the same amount of energy as 100 billion 1 megaton H-bombs per second (

A quote from Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski: “It seems that ENSO (El Nino/Southern Oscillation) is probably the strongest factor of natural variability of the global climatic system”.

This ocean current phenomenon occurs in the Pacific Ocean – see photo below:

keeping things in perspective. The Pacific ocean, the site of the El nino/Southern Oscillation phenomenon. Most people live in the Northern hemisphere in cities, so it is easy to forget that about 40% of the Earth is covered by the Pacific ocean. Phot:

Keeping things in perspective. The Pacific Ocean, the site of the El Nino/Southern Oscillation phenomenon. Most people live in the Northern hemisphere in cities, so it is easy to forget that about 40% of the Earth is covered by the Pacific Ocean. Photo:

“Numerous observations suggest that the ENSO phenomenon depends on the activity of the Sun: great solar explosions cause dramatic increases of the solar wind, and decrease the intensity of cosmic radiation reaching the Earth’s atmosphere. Because cosmic rays provide condensation centers for clouds, great solar explosions probably enable the formation of El Nino through a short term, 2 to 3 percent decrease of the global cloud coverage.” See also Svensmark and Calder in the references below. A decrease in cloud coverage allows more solar radiation through which has a warming effect, and vice versa.

Perhaps changes in solar activity could cause changes in the climate.

Perhaps changes in solar activity could cause changes in the Earth’s climate. Photo


In order to even partially solve a problem (or mathematical equation), or come close to a correct solution, it is necessary, as much as is possible, to know all the factors/variables involved, to accurately quantify those variables, and use the correct formula which takes into account the interaction between all the variables. Losing a proper perspective of the relative magnitude of the factors involved will result not only in an incorrect solution, but worse than that, an increased probability of cumulative error.

An example of this is blaming anthropogenic CO2 emissions for climate change, which misses the elephant in the room. Analogies are mostly unscientific, unquantifiable and often fall down in some respect. It would therefore be preferable not to have to do this, but for the sake of trying to demonstrate a point, to give some idea about the respective magnitude of the factors involved in climate change, the following analogies put some perspective on the stubbornly pervasive idea (made that way through brainwashing, spin doctoring and propaganda, much of it funded with taxpayers’ money) that reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions will help avert impending catastrophic climate change.

First, an analogy from Dr. Tim Ball:

“The analogy I use is that my car is not running very well, so I am going to ignore the engine, which is the Sun, and I am going to ignore the transmission, which is water vapor, and I am going to look at one nut on the rear right wheel, which is human-produced CO2. The science is that bad.” .

My attempt to keep things in perspective:

“Imagine you that come home and find that your house has been trashed.

Some of the walls have been pushed over, the fridge is upside down, and your bed is crushed.

Then you notice that there is an enormous African bull elephant standing in what is left of your house, as well as a cat hiding under a chair, a mouse shaking in a corner, and, oh, there’s a flea on the mouse’s back.”

In this analogy:

the elephant represents the Sun, and the interaction between changes in solar activity with solar winds, cosmic radiation, cloud formation and the oceans (e.g. ENSO), as the most probable and major cause of climate change,

the much smaller cat represents the greenhouse effect, a probable secondary and relatively minor cause, including water vapour, the dominant greenhouse gas,

the much smaller mouse represents the relatively small proportional contribution of CO2 to the greenhouse effect, itself a secondary and minor cause,

and the much, much smaller flea on the back of the mouse represents the relatively insignificant impact of anthropogenic CO2 emissions on the global natural carbon cycle, on the greenhouse effect, and therefore on climate change.

Occam’s Razor or even just plain common sense would suggest that most of the damage to your house was probably caused by the elephant, and perhaps a small amount by the cat, running away from the elephant, and at most, a tea cup was knocked over by the mouse, running away from both the elephant and the cat, while the flea was hanging on for dear life.

Trying to stop climate change by reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions by say 20%, is like trying to stop your house being trashed again by the elephant, et al, by shaving 20% off the back of the flea.


“Oh, what a tangled (political) web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!” Walter Scott.

 Another example of losing perspective: Australia produces a minuscule 1.4 to 1.5% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Even if Australia’s emissions doubled overnight, it would make no significant difference to the global climate, years or decades from now (for more on this, see the “Environment Quotes” page, click on the button in the menu bar above). In spite of this, a carbon tax (sic – should be carbon dioxide tax) has been autocratically imposed upon Australian taxpaying voters, in a supposedly democratic, sovereign nation, costing each family around $500 -$1000 a year, and achieving little or nothing (to be repealed in the near future, so we are told, by a new democratically elected government – the people have spoken. Update: the carbon tax has been repealed – thank you Prime Minister Tony Abbott for making and keeping this promise).  This is not wise decision making at the highest level of politics, informed by objective science. This is political grandstanding, based on poor and corrupt science, and from a practical point of view, shooting yourself in the foot. This is attempting to cut off a small percent of 1.5 percent off the back of the flea.

An example of cumulative error: if the foundations of a house are not level, then the walls will not be vertical, and may be even worse than the foundation, and the roof will not be level, and may be worse than both the walls and the foundation combined. If we incorrectly assume that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are the major cause of climate change, we then go on to make poor decisions, such as assigning funds paid for by taxpayers for research into the supposed cause of the supposed problem. So, for example, rather than fund research into the interaction between cloud formation, ENSO and climate change, and how to most effectively increase cloud formation (through reforestation for example – see quotes and information below); we put the cart before the horse and fund research, not into how ENSO influences global warming/the global climate, but, would you believe, into how global warming influences ENSO! (“Global Warming’s influence on El Nino still unknown” Australian Farm Journal, July 2010, pge. 50…by the way, the results were “inconclusive”, a convenient finding if you are looking for more funding). This would be farcical and amusing, if it was not for the fact that this represents an opportunity cost, where the funds used for this research are now no longer available for research into, for example, how worldwide reforestation could increase cloud cover and influence the climate, fix carbon etc.

“The result of reducing Australian CO2 emissions by 5%  by 2020 will be a theoretical (and umeasurable) cooling of between 0.0007 and 0.00007 degrees C.” Carter 2013.

“Most institutions demand unqualified truth: but the institution of science makes skepticism a virtue.” Robert K. Merton. See also the Michael Crichton “Consensus” quote on the “Environment Quotes” page.

Climate change quotes.

Climate change quotes.


Some possible climate change solutions – Water vapour, forests, reforestation, transpiration, cloud formation.

While we cannot do anything about solar activity, it may be possible to do something about cloud formation (and thus reflect some of the incoming solar radiation, so that less solar radiation gets through, which has a cooling effect) and water vapour in the atmosphere, as well as fix carbon, and thus provide a buffer against possible climate change, through reforestation.

Water vapour produced by evapotranspiration rises above a rain forest, adding to or forming clouds above, which in turn may produce rain. The forest also produces nuclei so that rain more rain may fall, in a cycle resulting in more eveapotranspiration, more forest growth, more nuclei, and so on. Photo: Mt. Whitfield national Park, Cairns, Australia, David Clode.

Water vapour produced by evapotranspiration rises above a rain forest, adding to or forming clouds above, which in turn may produce rain. The forest also produces nuclei so that more rain may fall, in a cycle resulting in more evapotranspiration, more forest growth, more nuclei, more rain, and so on. Photo: Mt. Whitfield National Park, Cairns, Australia, David Clode.

The quotes below provide some little-publicised information, facts and figures which pertain to reforestation, water vapour, clouds and climate change, and back up the analogies given above…

“The most important greenhouse gas is water vapor, which is responsible for about 96 to 99 percent of the greenhouse effect. A reader of the IPCC 1990 report (the Bible of the man-made global warming adherents) might incorrectly believe that CO2 causes 25 percent of the entire greenhouse effect. What is striking in this IPCC report, is that water was not even mentioned in any of its eight tables comparing the greenhouse effect of different atmospheric components! If the corresponding values for water vapor had been presented in these tables, the unimportance of the contribution from CO2 produced by man, in the thermal balance of the atmosphere, would have been very clear”. Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski. (Bold text in the original).

“To the total CO2 flux into the global atmosphere of 169 gigatons (Gt) of carbon per year, human industrial and agricultural activity adds about 6 Gt of carbon per year”. “Hence, man’s addition to the natural greenhouse effect may be about 0.05 to 0.25 percent”. Zbigniew Jaworowski. The flea mentioned in the analogy above. The figures above have been debated, and there are of course a variety of estimates in the literature, however the figures are likely to be within the ball park (within orders of magnitude), and still make the point that the influence of solar activity, compared with anthropogenic CO2 emissions on the climate, varies by orders of magnitude. In plain English, no matter how much the data are massaged and manipulated, the effect of solar activity on the climate dwarfs the effect of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

“The quantity of water released annually by forests and grasslands are like aerial rivers, cycling about 5640 billion tons of water into the atmosphere…”. “The leaf surfaces also provide another critical element in water cycling. The streams and rivers of water vapor that flow in the atmosphere as water vapor are generally invisible. It is made visible by the existence of minute particulate matter that condenses the water vapor into viable forms, called clouds. This particulate matter, termed Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN) is comprised of bacteria and bacterial particles (Ahern et al 2006) and biotic chemicals like Di-Methyl Sulphide (DMS) and plant aerosols (Charlson et al 1987). The largest sources of CCN from terrestrial sources are the leaf surfaces and pores of plants which harbor and release large quantities of bacteria and bacterial particles.” Dr. Ranil Senanayake.

Clouds over Eastern Australia. Photo: David Clode.

“One medium-sized elm tree will transpire 7000 litres of water on a clear day”.”Trees pump moisture into the air as they transpire – up to 75% of precipitation is returned to the atmosphere in this way. The Tasmanian Blue Gum, Eucalyptus globulus, which averages about 60 trees to a hectare in a natural mixed forest, pumps 4000 litres/day”. Rosemary Morrow 1993.

Cloud Formation, Climate Change and Epiphytes

Asplenium australasicum

Asplenium australasicum, the birds-nest fern, an epiphytic plant. North Queensland, Australia. Photo: David Clode.

Epiphytes are plants such as Bromeliads, ferns and orchids (as well as creepers/climbers/lianas for practical purposes), which grow on trees, mostly in warmer, wetter climates. Epiphytes grow up in trees because there is more sunlight available for photosynthesis, (only about one to five percent of sunlight penetrates through to the forest floor in tropical and equatorial rain forests) and they manage to get just enough water and nutrients in rough bark or where leaf and twig litter collects. Some epiphytes funnel falling leaves into their centre, e.g. birds-nest ferns, effectively making their own compost/soil while growing up in the trees. Some, such as Bromeliads, are able to fix their own nitrogen in association with cyanobacteria, and much of this nitrogen would ultimately enter the overall nutrient cycle of the forest.

Epiphytes and climbers/creepers/lianas add still more biomass/carbon fixation to forests. They increase biodiversity and provide habitat for countless creatures. They also increase the transpiration and evaporative leaf surface area of forests, and produce still more bacterial cloud condensation nuclei, adding to the bacterial nuclei produced by the trees, so that dense, multi-storey forests with climbing and epiphytic plants are likely to be the most effective at increasing dense low-level cloud cover and rainfall. The increased clouds, and cloud density, in turn reflect incoming solar radiation, and so have a cooling effect on the local climate. A quote from Dr. Ranil Senanayake: “The epiphytic communities of mature forests also create CCN from both leaf surfaces and community interstices. The contribution is significant. In the Columbian Andes the epiphyte biomass was estimated at about 12 tonnes dry weight per hectare (Veneklaas et al 1990)”. See reference below, and “Another response to global warming”, by Dr. Ranil Senanayake, at and click on “resources”, then click on “technical”. See also the work of Walter Jehne (Jehne, W. 2007. “The biology of global warming and its profitable mitigation”. Nature and Society, Dec 2006-Jan 2007. See also page six in the AID article (click on the “Articles” page above), and the video at


A mass of epiphytes covers a Barringtonia calyptrata tree. Cairns, Australia.

A mass of epiphytes covers a Barringtonia calyptrata tree. Cairns, Australia. Photo: David Clode.


Water vapour rising from a rain forest. Mt Whitfield. Photo: David Clode.

Water vapour rising from a rain forest. Mt Whitfield. Photo: David Clode.

In the two photos above, this is not mist coming down from clouds above, but water vapour being formed into visible water droplets by bacterial nuclei coming from evapotranspiration from the trees, and wafting upwards.

“For He draws up drops of water,

Which distill as rain from the mist,

Which the clouds drop down,

And pour abundantly on man.”

Job 36:27, 28.

Trees transpire moisture, and bacteria on the the leaves and in their stomatal cavities are dispersed into the air and act as cloud condensation nuclei, forming water droplets. The condensed water droplets may then freeze and/or coalesce, become heavier, and fall as additional rain. “Leaves are the ideal organs to carry out these functiond effectively, as leaves present an extensive surface area to the environment. For example, o.5 ha of Oak forest with a basal stem area of 5.5 sq m produced an aggregate leaf surface area of more than 2.03 ha (Rothacher et al 19540” (Senanayake). So, the more vegetation there is, the more leaf surface area there is, with more evapotranspiration, and more bacterial nuclei, with the potential for more rain, and more dense low-level clouds, reflecting more solar radiation, with a greater cooling effect…more vegetation equals more cooling.

Rain forest exists because of high rain fall, and rain that is relatively evenly distributed through the year (a long dry season usually results in a monsoon forest). Some of the rain comes from clouds from evaporation off the sea and blown over land of course, but the rain forest also recycles moisture (evapotranspiration) and the rain is partly or even largely caused by the rain forest. In the Amazon rain forest, it is estimated that half of the rain fall comes from the clouds formed by the trees themselves (Richards 1998, pge.203; 2006). Sir David Attenborough states that in the Congo rain forest, “Up to 95% of the rain that falls here is generated by the forest itself”. See “David Attenborough’s Africa: Congo” (BBC). See also Mollison (1988), ,

“…cooling occurs as the area of cloud increases and warming when it decreases, with a worldwide change in cloudiness of just 1% causing a change of received energy at the Earth’s surface of about 4 watt/square metre. This is roughly the same change that is caused by a doubling of carbon dioxide levels.” Carter, 2013, Pge 148.

It is evident from the above that vegetation, and therefore reforestation and deforestation, has a major influence on climate, including effects on at least local temperature, humidity, cloud formation and rain fall, way above and beyond the effects of carbon fixation and storage – the facts, figures and quotes below provide further evidence of this.

Misty Forest 3. Photo: David Clode. Mt Whitfield, Australia.

Misty forest and cloud formation. Photo: David Clode. Mt Whitfield, Australia.

Forests, vegetation and windbreaks can act as a buffer against heat, and hot, dry winds

“Trees not only provide long term, economic shade for the farm, but can also lower the ambient air temperature through increased water evapotranspiration… Anyone who has entered a forest in the heat of the day will appreciate the ‘air conditioning’ potential of trees” (Reid and Wilson 1985). “Shelter from hot and drying winds can retain more moisture in soils, increase crop productivity and pasture growth, and increase liveweight gain in livestock.” (Reid and Wilson 1985). Also, plants exposed to hot, drying winds tend to close their stomata, and so stop fixing carbon/growing.

Dr Chris Reij reports on an experiment by Bob Mann in Northern Burkina Faso (Sahelian West Africa) on soil temperatures in the open compared to under the shade of trees – . “The difference in soil temperature under a tree and on adjacent bare soil is as high as 35 degrees C during the middle of the day. Under the tree the temperature ranges from 25-36 C, which is a difference of just 11 C, but look at the situation on bare ground where temperatures increased by 48 C to a high of 71 degrees!!”

71 degrees C is more than enough to pasteurise milk, and very close to double the highest soil temperature in the tree shade.

Forests and windbreaks (composed of evergreen trees) can act as a buffer against cold, decreasing wind chill

“Wind can reduce temperatures substantially: if the temperature behind shelter is -1 degree C, a 50 km/hour wind can cause a wind-chill of almost -20 degree C (in the open).” “In the cold, windy weather of New South Wales sheltering lambing ewes from the wind chill by using a tall, unpalatable phalaris (grass), reduced mortality of single lambs from 17.5 to 8.9 per cent and that of multiple births from 51.3 to 35.8 per cent” (Reid and Wilson 1985).

Forests and windbreaks can act as a buffer against extremes generally

“Intercropping with paulownia (trees) can reduce the wind speed 21 to 52 per cent, reduce evaporation from the ground by almost 10 per cent, and increase the soil moisture in the topsoil by 20 per cent. The influence on temperature after intercropping shows that the highest temperature is reduced, and the lowest temperature is raised. All these factors play a great role in protecting against natural calamities such as drought, windstorms and late frosts” (Reid and Wilson 1985).

“This (tree) evaporation is accompanied by cooling so that by day it is cooler in and near a forest than it is in unvegetated areas. At night, in humid conditions, water condenses on the leaves and warms the surrounding air.” (Morrow 1993).

Deciduous trees provide cooling shade in summer, and allow some warming sunlight through in winter.

Reforestation and climate change continued…

“The basis of all excellence is truth…” Samuel Johnson

Reforestation of degraded land not only fixes and stores carbon but also has a cooling effect on the local climate, and may provide a buffer against possible future global warming/climate change, whether the cause is natural (much more likely) or anthropogenic (minuscule effects by comparison – anthropogenic Co2 is only about 3% of that of nature (IPCC figure), Co2 is not the dominant greenhouse gas, and is only responsible for somewhere between 5 and 20% of the greenhouse effect, while around 70 to 99% is caused by water vapour, which is rarely mentioned).

Eucalyptus tereticornis.

Eucalyptus tereticornis.

Myers (1990) writes that “One of the best ways to counter the build up of carbon dioxide is through reforestation. About 1 million sq km (approximately the area of Egypt) of fast-growing trees absorb 1 billion tonnes of carbon annually during their major growth period of up to several decades. Reforestation on this scale would absorb one-quarter of the net build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”. The fast-growing, high biomass forests with a grassy under-storey described further down this page would do a great deal better than that, and would be far more effective than concentrating on reducing industrial emissions. Quotes on carbon fixation by forests invariably do not include potential under-storey grasses and other plants (which often fix much more carbon than the trees), nor roots, nor litter-fall, nor soil life, and so are grossly under-estimated.

A quote from one of Al Gore’s books: “A revegetation program in Indonesia resulted in a 3-5 degree C reduction in average air temperature, an 11% increase in cloud cover and a 20% increase in rainfall” (Gore 2009). It is at best mystifying that Al Gore does not follow up/promote the highly effective option of using reforestation (which benefits just about everybody, everywhere in the world) to fix and store carbon, and increase dense, low-level cloud cover and thus lower temperatures, and so mitigate global warming/climate change. Instead he persists with the notion that reducing anthropogenic Co2 emissions is the only solution, which effectively sabotages Western industrialised nations, and has widespread disastrous economic and social costs, with little in the way of benefits. To ignore the reforestation option is illogical, negligent at best, and strongly suggests other less-than-honest agendas.

Rain droplets on a palm leaf. Photo: David Clode.

Rain droplets on a palm leaf. Photo: David Clode.

Another problem is that reducing emissions now and in the future does nothing to deal with the legacy of Co2 built up from historical land degradation/deforestation and industrial activity, whereas ongoing reforestation using high biomass complementary plant combinations, particularly in the wet tropics, can fix some or much of that Co2. See the AID article, at the bottom of the home page, pages 5, and 9-13. From these pages it should be evident that the carbon fixation and storage potential of forests, grasslands, grassy woodlands and soils has been grossly and even deceitfully under-estimated, in a “straw man” argument in other sources, e.g. Kunzig and Broecker (2008). They state, for example, that “Loblolly pine is one of the fastest-growing trees on Earth” – it isn’t, and its carbon fixation rates do not compare with certain tree/grass combinations in the warmer tropics, which would exceed it by at least threefold. Nambiar and Brown (1997), state that “Tropical plantations produce the greatest amount of wood per hectare of any forests”, and this is just about trees, and does not include a grassy under-storey, where most of the carbon fixation could potentially occur. Furthermore, if you wanted to put a negative spin on it, and make the idea of using reforestation to fix carbon dioxide appear as ineffective as possible in a free air Co2 enrichment experiment, then using Loblolly pine would be one of the best choices – it is renowned as one of the least responsive trees to C02 enrichment (Nambiar and Brown 1997). This is either unprofessional (to not be aware of this), or it is a deceptive setup with the deliberate intention to mislead.

Falcataria moluccana. Photo:

Falcataria moluccana syn. Paraserianthes falcataria. Photo:

Loblolly pine can be expected to produce between 7 and 12 tonnes of dry matter (DM) per hectare per annum in a subtropical or warm temperate climate (top growth, add approx. 20% for roots. About 40-50% of this dry matter would be carbon, depending on wood density). In Australia, pine plantations produce on average 7 tonnes. By contrast, some forms of Leucaena leucocephala can be expected to produce between 15 and 30t/ha/yr DM. In Puerto Rico, a combination of Leucaena and Casuarina equisetifolia (both nitrogen-fixing) produced 124t in 4 years, therefore averaged at around 31t/ha/yr (Nambiar and Brown 1997). Just to demonstrate what is possible (but not probable), the following is an exceptional example: “At Sai Thong in Thailand with 1500 mm mean annual rainfall, Acacia crassicarpa derived from Woroi Wipim in New Guinea produced a total above-ground dry biomass of 207t/ha in 3 years, much more than several other species tested” (Faridah Hanum and van der Maesen 1997). As a ball park figure, this means an incredible 69t/ha/yr DM!

Some forms of Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum and hybrids/cultivars) are likely to produce a bare minimum of 10t/ha/yr DM, with a more likely production of 20 – 40t, and potentially 55t or more in the wet tropics (top growth – roots may add another approx. 50%). The website , states that Napier/elephant grass can (in ideal conditions) yield a maximum of 85t/ha/yr DM!

Furthermore, Leucaena (or possibly Falcataria moluccana, Sesbania grandiflora, S. sesban, Acacia mangium, A. crassicarpa, Casuarina equisetifolia, or some combination of these) and Napier grass can be grown together, and from personal observation, as a complementary combination (no apparent retardation in the growth of either Leucaena or Napier grass, where the grass may yield more due to the tree’s nitrogen fixation and shelter effect – see photo further down this page). Thus a combination of one or more fast-growing nitrogen-fixing tree species and Napier grass, at a conservative estimate of 15t for the trees (could be 25t), plus at least 20t (could be 50t or more, top growth) for Napier grass, gives a conservative annual productivity of 35t (top growth), compared to Loblolly pine at around 10t, more than three times as much carbon fixation.

The timber from such high biomass grassy forests can be used for construction, furniture and fuel wood, and the grass for fodder and fuel wood. Charcoal from the fuelwood could be incorporated into cropping soils, in turn increasing their productivity and long-term carbon sequestration. Construction and furniture fixes carbon for decades or even hundreds of years, while charcoal/biochar in the soil stores carbon for potentially thousands of years. Planting and managing such forests could provide much-needed employment for many people in developing countries, and the additional forests and improved soils provide a solid foundation on which to build a stronger economy.

Napier grass, Pennisetum purpureum, growing five metres tall, without irrigation or fertilization. Cairns, North Queensland, Australia.

Napier grass or elephant grass, Pennisetum purpureum, growing five metres tall, without irrigation or fertilization. Cairns, North Queensland, Australia. Napier grass can produce from 10 to 30, and even 55 tonnes or more dry matter per hectare per annum, of which about 40 – 50% would be carbon. The roots may add another approx. 50%, and exudates from the roots would also contribute significantly to soil life and soil organic matter. The grass can easily be established by placing large stems straight into the ground.


Napier grass Pennisetum purpureum is easily grown from cuttings. The photo shows a side shoot broken of at ground level, which has a bud which would shoot, and roots growing already.

Napier grass Pennisetum purpureum is easily grown from cuttings. The photo shows a side shoot broken off at ground level, which has a bud which would shoot, and roots growing already.


Leucaena Napier grass

Nitrogen-fixing Leucaena leucocephala trees growing over Napier grass. The trees are likely to fix 15t/ha/yr Dm, but could be 25t, and the grass 20-30t, but could be over 55t and it may be possible to fit in a middle storey, and epiphytes later. Added to this is the carbon stored in roots, leaf litter/mulch, soil life and soil organic matter. This forest would be fixing about 3.5 times the carbon that a typical pine plantation in a cooler climate would The grass appears to be growing better under the trees, compared to a few metres away in the open, possibly due to the shelter of the trees, and addition of nitrogen from the tree leaves (when they fall) and tree roots (when they die). The trees may be benefiting from the extra organic matter provided by the grass. The trees could be established using the AID plus seeds treatment.


Miscanthus X giganteus. A grass that fixes high rates of carbon, and can be grown in colder climates e.g. Germany, U. K., USA. Photo: grass,

Miscanthus X giganteus. A grass that fixes high rates of carbon, and can be grown in colder climates e.g. Germany, U. K., USA. Photo:


Mycorrhizal fungi, pine seedling. Photo:

Mycorrhizal fungi, pine seedling. Photo:

Estimations of carbon storage should include litter on the soil surface, soil life (such as mycorrhizal fungi) and soil organic matter. The world’s soils hold over four times as much carbon as the vegetation – see the article “Building soil carbon with Yearlong Green Farming” by Dr. Christine Jones, The wildlife and livestock supported by the vegetation also form a carbon sink, and should also be included in any accounting of carbon in an ecosystem.


Opportunity cost and cost/benefit analysis

There is also an opportunity cost to spending so much time, money and energy (and angst)on reducing emissions. Kyoto costs the world $10 billion USD a month: “Since the inception of the Kyoto Protocol, some $10 billion a month has been spent to avert a speculated 0.5 degrees C temperature rise by 2050. These funds would already have provided all of the Third World with potable water, reticulated electricity, and would have reduced global atmospheric pollution” (Plimer 2009). Some or all of this $10 billion a month could instead be much better spent on reforestation (and other alternatives), which does not have the social and economic costs of reducing emissions, and which fixes carbon, has major environmental/economic/social benefits, and provides a vastly greater return on investment.

Deforestation and its negative effects on climate/climate change

By contrast, in the following quote, author Mary White discusses what deforestation does to the climate:

“Vegetation does not only influence climate by its consumption of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Evapotranspiration is a global source of water vapour, the water that rises through the plant’s systems and evaporates through the stomata on the leaves affecting ground temperarures. This becomes a vital factor in forests and other areas of very dense vegetation. The latent heat of evaporation is locally cooling – it has been estimated that if all the forests disappeared from Amazonia, to be replaced by grassland, temperatures there could be expected to be between 2 degrees and 5 degrees C higher. Change from forest cover to grassland involves a local decrease in evapotranspiration of about 20 per cent, with considerable decrease in cloud cover. Dry seasons become longer, and with increased dryness come more fires and more erosion. Air circulation and wind strength change with the decrease in surface roughness associated with change from tree canopies to grass, and as ground temperatures rise (particularly over eroded land) updrafts result in less rain falling locally, often where it is needed most.” (White 2003).

Forest destruction in one area can result in drought elsewhere – “The environmental effects of forest removal are dramatic, both in the local area and further afield. It has been calculated that as much as 60% of inland water comes from forest transpiration. Hence, forest removal in one area may relate directly to drought in another area.” (Morrow 1993).

In addition, Myers (1990) states that “The destruction of tropical forests contributes 30% of the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere”.

See also page six in the AID article (click on the “Articles” button above).

Climate change and reforestation continued…

On the other hand, if the present global cooling trend from around 2002 (the warming has stopped, in spite of constantly increasing anthropogenic carbon dioxide, Carter 2010, Plimer 2011, which strongly suggests that there are other, stronger, over-riding influences) continues for the next couple of decades, crop production is likely to be reduced, leading to food shortages and food price increases. A cooling trend (if it occurs) would probably reduce grain production in Canada, Russia and Northern Europe, for example. However, increasing soil organic matter (carbon) through management of succession, combining crops with trees, windbreaks etc., could increase food production and offset this to some degree (it may also be necessary to prioritise the breeding of more cold-tolerant wheat varieties (such work has been done in Canada before), or change to grains that are naturally more cold tolerant, or possibly achieve this through genetic engineering).


From the quotes above it is clear that temperatures within the shelter of evergreen forests, and areas sheltered by windbreaks are generally less extreme than temperatures in the open, providing a more moderate microclimate, and so sheltered crop and animal production is generally higher than unsheltered production. Plant and animal food production that is sheltered by trees is likely to fare better in the event of one-off extreme weather events, or in the event of possible more gradual climate change which could occur in any direction…local reforestation can ameliorate the local climate, and extensive, ongoing reforestation worldwide would increase water vapour and cloud cover, as well as fix carbon and provide a buffer against local extreme weather events, and global climate change, regardless of its direction or cause.

Giant solar panel -photosynthesis in action (leaf of a cunjevoi or elephant's ear plant. Photo: David Clode

Giant solar panel -photosynthesis in action (leaf of a cunjevoi or elephant’s ear plant). Photo: David Clode

At the very least, ongoing worldwide reforestation on a grand scale could fix and store a great deal of the anthropogenic C02, (from the past, present and future) while buying time for more research and development into making fossil fuels more efficient, and making alternative energy sources such as perhaps solar and thorium-based nuclear energy (and/or PRISM nuclear energy), more economical and reliable.

Reforestation could also provide jobs and an improvement in the standard of living and quality of life for those living in desperate poverty in developing countries, while restoring and even enhancing the environment and soils, and thus building the economies of those countries.

Also, the poor in developed countries can do without the burden of additional taxes, government bureaucracy, etc., incurred by concentrating on emission controls.

Reforestation is good for the environment, and benefits nearly everybody everywhere, while reducing emissions is directly or indirectly bad for just about everybody everywhere. It is also ultimately bad for the environment, since impoverished people care less about the environment, and because it represents an opportunity cost, where resources spent on emission controls achieve little, and could have been spent on reforestation, with a much greater return on investment.

To these ends, this web site provides practical guidance regarding reforestation, grassland restoration, sequestering carbon in soils, growing windbreaks, increasing transpiration and cloud formation, and maximising carbon fixation and storage. See the Animal Improved Dung plus seeds article at the bottom of the home page, and the pages “Farmer mgd. nat regen, Animal Improved Dung, Planned Grazing”, “Complementary Plants, Forestry”, “Reforestation methods”, “Mixed Improved Fallows”, “Articles” etc.

“Slowing down the loss of global terrestrial photosynthetic biomass stock is not an option it is a critical need! A massive investment must go towards incrementing the global photosynthetic biomass stock.”  Dr. Ranil Senanayake.

In wet tropical areas around the world, vast areas are covered in weeds such as lantana pictured above, or blady grass. These areas need reforestation on a grand scale.

In wet tropical areas around the world, vast areas are covered in weeds such as lantana pictured above, or blady grass. These areas need reforestation on a grand scale.

Vast areas in the tropics are covered with weeds such as blady grass Imperata cylindrica and Lantana camara, and would be suited to reforestation on large scale.

Ecological restoration opportunities - potential environmental,economic and employment boost.

Ecological restoration opportunities – potential environmental, economic and employment boost.


Cloud stripping

A common sight all around the world - cloud formation on the top of a hill or mountain. Near Edmonton, Cairns, Australia.

A common sight all around the world – cloud formation on the top of a hill or mountain. Near Edmonton, Cairns, Australia.

On hills and mountains, clouds tend to form on their summits, and a forest (compared with grassland or eroded bare soil) with a higher leaf surface area provides more surfaces on which water can condense, and from which water can drip, increasing overall precipitation. This is called cloud stripping (see page 6 of the AID article, and Mollison 1988), or occult precipitation, and the increased precipitation feeds in to underground water, and then into streams and rivers. Yet another reason not to cut down forests, especially those on the tops of hills/mountains, and to make a concerted effort to reforest the tops of hills/mountains (See also the paton quote, for a poetic description of land degradation and its social consequences).

The sky reflected in a drop of water on a water lily leaf.

The sky reflected in a drop of water on a water lily leaf.

A quote from Mary White: “Scientists from CSIRO Land & Water are attempting to develop methods for accurately measuring the amount of water that forests strip from low-level clouds and fogs, estimated to be as much as 30 per cent of the total water flowing into high-altitude sites. The water stripped from the clouds as they brush against trees becomes ‘throughfall’, that falls directly through the canopy, and ‘stemfall’, that runs down the tree trunks. The trees use little of the water that they strip, and the rest is released to the system by streams and rivers. When accurate measurements can be made of the amounts of water involved at a range of different sites, the information will assist policy makers concerned with sustainable water allocation. As ‘ecosystem service providers’ the forests have an additional intrinsic economic value because of their contribution to the catchment water cycle. The benefits of conserving existing forest and of replanting marginal land in upland catchments are already visible at this stage of the research. The increased water supply that would result from replanting degraded catchments would be worth more than the return from poor agricultural land”. (White 2003).

When all is said and done:

“Deforestation results in a downward spiral of compounding problems, while reforestation results in an upward spiral of synergistic benefits.”

David Clode

“If deforestation is the problem… then reforestation is the solution!”

David Clode

Cloud formation.

Cloud formation.


African oil palm. Monoculture plantations of oil palms, especially in Indonesia, malaysia and other SE Asian countries, are a major cause of deforestation, as well as Co2 emissions from burning peat bogs, to dry them out before planting oil palms.

African oil palm. Monoculture plantations of oil palms, especially in Indonesia, Malaysia and other SE Asian countries, are a major cause of deforestation, as well as Co2 emissions from burning peat bogs, to dry them out before planting oil palms.


Some epiphyte photos

“In the Nimba mountains (Liberia) at about 500 m Johansson (1974) counted 1171 individual epiphytes on one tree and 1857 on another.” ” in Sumatera Bunning (1947, p. 78) found over fifty species of fern on one tree.” Richards 1998.

Elkhorn fern, Platycerium bifurcatum. Photo: David Clode.

Epiphytes increase the transpiration, leaf surface area and bacterial cloud condensation nuclei production, particularly in wet, tropical rain forests, and thus increase cloud formation, rainfall, and so decrease incoming solar radiation. Epiphyte growth can be dense and make a significant difference, as can be seen in some of the photos below.

Tongue ferns, Pyrosia confluens, a basket fern Drynaria rigidula, and an elkhorn fern, Platycerium bifurcatum, growing on a rain tree, Albizia saman (syn. Paraserianthes saman, Samanea saman). A major increase in transpiration, leaf surface area and bacterial nuclei production due to epiphytic plants.

Epiphytes growing on a rain tree.

Epiphytes growing on a rain tree. Photo: David Clode.

Epiphytes growing on a rain tree.

Platycerium bifurcatum, Cape Tribulation. Photo: David Clode.

Elkhorn ferns, Platycerium bifurcatum.

Elkhorn ferns.

Elkhorn ferns. Cape Trib David Clode.

Elkhorn ferns, Cape Tribulation beach.


Elkhorn fern growing in a rain tree.


Tassel fern 'Thailand Blue'. Cairns Botanic Gardens Conservatory. Photo: David Clode.

Tassel fern ‘Thailand Blue’. Cairns Botanic Gardens Conservatory. Photo: David Clode.


Bird’s-nest fern, Asplenium australasicum. The funnel-shaped arrangement of the leaves is good for intercepting light, but also collects leaf litter, effectively making their own soil. Seedlings of strangler figs and umbrella trees for example, often germinate in the leaf litter.

Bird’s-nest fern, Asplenium australasicum.

Young bird’s-nest fern. Photo: David Clode.

Young Bird’s-nest fern.

Phalaenopsis orchid.

Phalaenopsis orchid. Photo: David Clode.

Phalaenopsis orchid. Many orchids in the tropics are epiphytic.

Pencil orchid.

Pencil orchid.

Pencil orchid (prev. Dendrobium teretifolium) Cairns, growing on a rain tree.

 Scindapsus aurea (syn. Epipremnum aureum), Cairns botanic gardens.

Philodendron selloum, Cairns botanic gardens. English Ivy, Hedera helix, would increase the leaf surface area and biogenic nuclei production in a cool, temperate forest. Climbers that cling to trees provide great habitat for many animals.

Dragon fruit

Some food plants can be grown on tree trunks, such as dragon fruit.

Dragon fruit. Shannon Drive, Bayview Hts, Cairns.

Dragon fruit. Shannon Drive, Bayview Hts, Cairns.


Piper sp.

Piper sp. Cairns botanic gardens. Some spices can be grown on tree trunks, such as pepper and vanilla.




Umbrella tree growing on Cymbidium madidum, growing on a tree branch.

Umbrella tree growing on Cymbidium madidum, growing on a tree branch. Photo: David Clode.

An umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla, syn. Brassaia actinophylla), growing on a Cymbidium madidum plant, which is growing on a tree branch. Plants such as these increase the leaf area index of rainforests, increasing the generation of bacterial cloud condensation nuclei, and carbon fixation. In rainforests, things grow on other things which grow on other things.

The Black orchid, Coelogyne pandurata.

The Black orchid, Coelogyne pandurata, an epiphytic orchid. photo: David Clode.


A backlit Bromeliad.

A backlit Bromeliad.


A dead tree covered in epiphytes, mostly Drynaria ferns. Cathedral Fig road, Atherton Tablelands. Photo: David Clode.

A dead tree covered in epiphytes, mostly Drynaria ferns. Cathedral Fig road, Atherton Tablelands. Photo: David Clode.


Some more misty rain forest photos:

Misty, other-worldly rain forest, Mt. Whitfield, Cairns.

Misty, other-worldly rain forest, Mt. Whitfield, Cairns.

Misty rain forest.

Misty rain forest. Photo: David Clode.

Misty rain forest. Photo: David Clode.


Misty forest.

Misty forest.

Misty rain forest.

Misty Rain forest. Mt Whitfield, Australia. Photo: David Clode.

Misty Rain forest. Mt Whitfield, Australia. Photo: David Clode.


Mixed eucalyptus and rain forest, Gillies Range. Photo David Clode.

Mixed eucalyptus and rain forest, Gillies Range. Photo David Clode.


Emergent trees, sunlight and mist, Mount Whitfield National park, Cairns, Australia.

Emergent trees, sunlight and mist, Mount Whitfield National Park, Cairns, Australia.

Misty forest. Some trees are more equal than other trees.

Some resources/references

Carter, Robert & Spooner, John. (2013). Taxing air: facts and fallacies about climate change. Kelpie Press. ISBN: 9780646902180.

Carter, R. M. (2010). Climate: The Counter Consensus. STACEY INTERNATIONAL. ISBN 978 1 906768 29 4. Fig. 12, Pg. 63.

Faridah Hanum, I and van der Maesen, L. J. G. (Editors), 1997. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 11. Auxiliary plants. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands. ISBN 979-8316-00-2. 389pp. Pge 58.

Jarowrowski, Zbigniew. “The Global Warming Folly”.

Kunzig, Robert, & Broecker, Wallace. (2008). Fixing Climate. The story of climate science – and how to stop global warming. Green Profile, Sort Of Books. ISBN 978 1 84668 860 7. Pge. 115.

Mollison, Bill. 1988. Permaculture: designers’ manual. Tagari. ISBN 908228 01 5. Pgs. 146-147. (Cloud condensation nuclei, forests increasing rain fall)

Ibid, pg. 144. (Cloud stripping).

Morrow, R. (1993). Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture. Kangaroo Press. ISBN 0 86417 514 0. Pg 50.

Myers, Norman. 1990. The Gaia Atlas of Future Worlds. Penguin. Pge. 140.


Nambiar, E. K. Sandanan, and Brown, Alan, G. 1997. Management of Soil, Nutrients and Water in Tropical plantation forests. ACIAR Monograph no 43, xii + 571 p. ISBN 1 86320 198 X Pg. 330.

Ibid Pg 277.

Ibid. Pg. 320.

Plimer, Ian. 2011. How to get expelled from school. A guide to climate change for pupils, parents & punters. Connor Court Publishing Pty Ltd. ISBN 9781921421808. Fig. 18, Pge. 189.

Plimer, Ian . 2009. Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science. Connor Court Publishing Pty Ltd. ISBN 9781921421198. page 471.

Reid, Rowan, and Wilson, Geoff. (1985). Agroforestry in Australia and New Zealand. Goddard and Dobson. ISBN 0 949 200 00 X. Pgs. 20, 21, 24, 202.

Richards, Paul W. (1998). The tropical rain forest: an ecological study. ISBN 0 521 42194 2. Page 146.

Senanayake, R. “Protecting the Planetary Life-Support System: Placing a Value on Photosynthetic Biomass. . Click on “Resources”, then “Technical”.

Svensmark, H. and Calder, N. 2007. The chilling stars: a new theory on climate change. ICON.

White, Mary E. (2003). Earth alive!; from microbes to a living planet. Rosenberg Publishing Pty Ltd. ISBN 1 877058 05 x. Pge. 57.




Water lilies.

Water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes, is a noxious weed in many places, but can be turned into compost with added manure, wood ash and some topsoil.

In Uganda, papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) is being compressed into briquettes and dried for fuel for cooking and heating fires. Perhaps water hyacinth, Pistia and Salvinia could be useful in this way too. (Update, 2 Sept. 2012: the African Christians Organisation Network in Kenya are now using water hyacinth (which is a weed in Lake Victoria) to make briquettes. This improves fuel security and reduces deforestation, saves time and effort collecting fuel wood, controls a weed, etc. The briquettes can be used in fuel-efficient stoves, which also reduces smoke-related health problems. The stoves can produce biochar and ash, which improves soils and increases food production. In addition, they are using the juice/sap from the water hyacinth as a liquid fertilizer – see , contact Salim Shaban at , and ). A very worthy project which would no doubt benefit from additional funding/donations. Ash and powdered biochar from fuel-efficient stoves could also be fed to livestock to disperse in their manure, increasing soil fertility (likely to be high in potassium, calcium and other nutrients).

Salvinia spp. (and Azolla spp.) can also be composted with manure, and a small amount of

"I know I live in the middle of a lake, but this is my drop of water!" Water Strider, Freshwater lake, Centenary Lakes, Cairns, Australia.

“I know I live in the middle of a lake, but this is my drop of water!” Water strider, Freshwater lake, Centenary Lakes, Cairns, Australia.

topsoil, to make a reasonably good potting mix, for pot plants and perhaps bag gardens. I did a small experiment growing Chinese cabbages in a compost made of salvinia, azolla, cow manure and sandy loam topsoil (7:1:1:1 by volume) in plastic pots, and the plants in the compost grew better (larger and apparently healthier) than the plants in a commercial pinebark-based potting mix which included chemical slow-release fertilizer. Composted Salvinia by itself provided excellent aeration, but was too free-draining, and needed other materials with a finer particle size to retain water.

Azolla pinnata below is a floating water plant that fixes nitrogen and has been an integral part of wet rice culture for thousands of years. Azolla provides food for herbivorous fish such as grass carp, and fish are particularly efficient in feed conversion/energy conversion (producing a maximum amount of palatable protein-rich food for a minimum of plant foodstuffs). It can also be used as a stock feed. Since nutrients tend to flow down into ponds and lakes, and tend to be concentrated in water bodies, and therefore water plants, these plants are often high in minerals (but sometimes they also accumulate heavy metal pollutants). If fed to livestock, the livestock could be herded to high ground to recycle the nutrients to their source.

Azolla pinnata. Photo taken at Freshwater Lake, Centenary Lakes, Cairns.


Rain water, lotus lily leaf.

Rain water, lotus lily leaf. photo: David Clode.

Rain water collected in a lotus lily leaf.


Flower bud of a Lotus lily.

Flower bud of a Lotus lily. photo: Dvaid Clode.


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  25. Jim says:

    Very nice page.
    Re-forestation would be a nice, though incomplete solution to global warming from greenhouse gases, but would likely be opposed by the same forces who oppose other attempts; and would it keep up with de-forestation elsewhere?

    Saying it is overstated is a dangerously complacent position which is in conflict with the best science on the subject.


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