Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
MtnGoat

Impact study shows climbing damages ecosytems

Recommended Posts

The reason the trees have lived to be 1000 years old on the cliff face is not just because they weren't logged. When the same trees grow on the plateau or in your backyard they'll likely reach maximum ages of a couple hundred years.... it's the cliff face environment that's so special. The growth of the tree is constrained such that the tree may only produce one or two bands of cells that account for an entire years growth. It's this slow growth and small, stunted development that prevents them from just growing big and falling over - like trees on a horizontal substrate would. True, if some wacky logger rapped down the cliff face and lopped them off, that would also prevent them from reaching ages of a thousand years or so....

A thousand years old.... think about that for a second, if a tree germinated in the year 1002...what was the world like then? It's just insane to consider all that's happened in the world in it's lifetime.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Matt,

That's a really good research question and it's one that a new grad student has thought about working on. There will be lots of problems with methods, however. Most signicantly, the bolted cliffs were unbolted for a long time, and how does one separate the new effects from the old ones. I don't like doing actual experiments on virgin cliffs so I don't want to do the experimental route but we're thinking about it.

doug larson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Zen: What we have found so far is that the cliffs function on time scales and in many cases with organisms unlike the rest of the landscape. They are (as much as one can get in a terrestrial environment) THEIR OWN ECOSYSTEM. The rates of growth, the nnutrient cycling etc. all occur different than on level ground. Anyone who needs to take a leak while on belay will appreciate this. Ours is the only lab in the world that concentrates on cliffs, so I have to apologize for not knowing more. But we're trying.

bye for now

doug larson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi None;

We can date the year of birth and death of trees on the cliffs using dendrochronology (tree ring dating). We have trees on the escarpment (dead ones) that have been hanging there for over 300 years. This may no apply to other cliff species, but the cedars and junipers are very very decay resistant.

doug larson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote:

Originally posted by verve:
The reason the trees have lived to be 1000 years old on the cliff face is not just because they weren't logged. When the same trees grow on the plateau or in your backyard they'll likely reach maximum ages of a couple hundred years.... it's the cliff face environment that's so special. The growth of the tree is constrained such that the tree may only produce one or two bands of cells that account for an entire years growth. It's this slow growth and small, stunted development that prevents them from just growing big and falling over - like trees on a horizontal substrate would. True, if some wacky logger rapped down the cliff face and lopped them off, that would also prevent them from reaching ages of a thousand years or so....

A thousand years old.... think about that for a second, if a tree germinated in the year 1002...what was the world like then? It's just insane to consider all that's happened in the world in it's lifetime.

Again Michelle you should clarify your point as being specific to back east. 1000 yr old trees are not unknown on flat ground out here. Cypress Provincial Park in West Vancouver has a couple of 1200 yr old yellow cedars on flat ground. Agree with you, it is because they are slow growing - but the stress is subalpine weather not vertical environment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bringing it all home – Pictures I have seen of Index (eg old Beckey guide, Index Museum) show much less plant life on the cliffs. If you look at the new Squamish guide there is a an old picture I think from the 20s of the Chief. The lack of trees and plants on the cliff compared to the present is remarkable.

PP

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote:

Originally posted by Peter Puget:
Bringing it all home – Pictures I have seen of Index (eg old Beckey guide, Index Museum) show much less plant life on the cliffs. If you look at the new Squamish guide there is a an old picture I think from the 20s of the Chief. The lack of trees and plants on the cliff compared to the present is remarkable.

PP

YO PETE DONT ferget that index was being quarried for a bit of time...so when da man be choppin da granite da trees got chopped too....alot of the granite there (lower wall) has only be exposed for a couple decades....

maybe a good comparision would be upper town wall (natural??) to the lower town wall(quarried).....

what do you guys think....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OH MY GOD I AGREE WITH PETER PUGET OVER SOMETHING? what next? maybe I will start drinking lagers or give up trad climbing shocked.gif" border="0

No: here's my point, which I have alluded to but not made directly. Doug and Michelle, please comment.

Everything I have seen about this issue has reported it as: "Rock climbing severely damages cliff ecosystems". Which may be true for the area studied. i havent read the full paper so I won't comment.

What I'm concerned about is the potential this paper may have if it is used by policy makers to govern climbing in an area other than on the Niagara Escarpment. I have no doubt that climbing on West Coast area cliffs does impact vegetation - mostly during route preparation and the first ascent when trees are cut or pruned back, moss and lichen is scrubbed and dirt is removed from cracks.

However:

1) the trees, vegetation and lichen found on West Coast cliffs, based on my undergrad biogeography experience, does not seem to represent a differing ecosystem from non-cliff adjacent areas on the West Coast;

2) the trees growing on cliffs on the West Coast are demonstrably not ancient;

3) there are many cliff faces on the West Coast and only a few have been impacted by climbing development I would say less than 1% of cliffs within 50kms of Vancouver are climbed on. so the impact climbers have HERE is not seriously impacting the overall local cliff ecosystem;

4) if a route does not get repeated frequently on the West Coast, it regrows vegetation rapidly. I have seen moss inches thick regrow on climbs within two years of their being cleaned simply because they did not recieve enough traffic or were not of the climbing quality to become popular routes. So the potential impact from cleaning a route is acceptable to me as a first ascencionist, in that it is demonstrably not permanent.

So I guess my pint for Doug and Michelle is that I would like to see recognition of the specific spatial limitations to their study area so that people dont apply their work out of context to areas that they did not study, which may behave in a cpmpletely different manner to the studied area. I happen to work in the resource management field (on the regulatory side) and one of my biggest criticisms of much of the science I see is that results of a study done on a limited area are applied out of context, ie a biologist working for a logging company does a study that shows a small amount of logging improves fish habitat in a specific area, and the logging company then tries to do a lot of logging along streams in a much larger and climactically different area on the grounds that "we have shown that logging improves fish habitat".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This issue of tree age for trees in level ground is interesting. The oldest Chamaecyparis (yellow cedar) ever found is about 1600 years old. It was dead. The trees are normally so big that coring the living trees is impossible and even the cross sections are too large to handle. Tree ring counts have rarely been published for this species and the age estimates are almost always based on size. Can you give me the reference for the 1200 year old tree in level ground? I will bet that the age was estimated by girth and compared to known ages for smaller (corable) trees. I do this stuff for a living and I know that people outside of the the field of dendrochronology guess the ages of trees all the time. These ages are lovely, but wrong.

What you must ask for when people claim evidence of great age, is an actual photograph of the section and a precise ring-count. If these items are not available, you should not believe the results because people WANT big trees to be old.

Doug Larson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote:

Originally posted by Dru:
OH MY GOD I AGREE WITH PETER PUGET OVER SOMETHING? what next? maybe I will start drinking lagers or give up trad climbing
shocked.gif" border="0

No: here's my point, which I have alluded to but not made directly. Doug and Michelle, please comment.

Everything I have seen about this issue has reported it as: "Rock climbing severely damages cliff ecosystems". Which
may
be true for the area studied. i havent read the full paper so I won't comment.

What I'm concerned about is the potential this paper may have if it is used by policy makers to govern climbing in an area other than on the Niagara Escarpment. I have no doubt that climbing on West Coast area cliffs does impact vegetation - mostly during route preparation and the first ascent when trees are cut or pruned back, moss and lichen is scrubbed and dirt is removed from cracks.

However:

1) the trees, vegetation and lichen found on West Coast cliffs, based on my undergrad biogeography experience, does not seem to represent a differing ecosystem from non-cliff adjacent areas on the West Coast;

NONE OF THIS HAS BEEN QUANTITATIVELY STUDIED. WE HAVE BEEN TRYING TO ENCOURGE AS MANY OTHERS AS POSSIBLE TO STUDY THE ECOLOGY OF CLIFFS, BUT THERE HAVE BEEN FEW TAKERS. IT'S A VERY COOL SUBJECT IF ANY OF YOU HAVE BIOLOGICAL INCLINATIONS. WE DON'T CARE IF WEST COAST RAINFOREST CLIFFS ARE THE SAME AS EASTERN ONES OR NOT. WE LOVE ALL CLIFFS AND, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, WE LOVE THE PEOPLE WHO CLIMB ON THEM. BUT WITHOUT WRECKING STUFF!

2) the trees growing on cliffs on the West Coast are demonstrably
not
ancient;

BY WHAT DEMONSTRATION?

3) there are many cliff faces on the West Coast and only a few have been impacted by climbing development I would say less than 1% of cliffs within 50kms of Vancouver are climbed on. so the impact climbers have HERE is not seriously impacting the overall local cliff ecosystem;

MAYBE SO, BUT THE TIME CONSTANTS FOR CLIFF RESTORATION MAY BE MUCH LONGER. PLUS WE KNOW THAT THERE ARE LOTS OF ENDEMIC SPECIES ON CLIFFS AND WE DO NOT KNOW IF THEIR POPULATIONS DEPEND ON ADJACENT STANDS THAT ARE ALSO UNDISTURBED.

4) if a route does not get repeated frequently on the West Coast, it regrows vegetation rapidly.

BUT WHAT IS THE VEGETATION? IS IT NATIVE OR ALIEN. THERE IS VEGETATION ON THE NIAG. ESCARPMENT CLIFFS TOO, BUT ITS MAINLY ALIEN..

I have seen moss inches thick regrow on climbs within two years of their being cleaned simply because they did not recieve enough traffic or were not of the climbing quality to become popular routes. So the potential impact from cleaning a route is acceptable to me as a first ascencionist, in that it is demonstrably not permanent.

MAYBE SO, BUT SHOULDN'T POLICY BE BASED ON EVIDENCE RATHER THAN ANECDOTE?

So I guess my pint for Doug and Michelle is that I would like to see recognition of the specific spatial limitations to their study area so that people dont apply their work out of context to areas that they did not study, which may behave in a cpmpletely different manner to the studied area. I happen to work in the resource management field (on the regulatory side) and one of my biggest criticisms of much of the science I see is that results of a study done on a limited area are applied out of context, ie a biologist working for a logging company does a study that shows a small amount of logging improves fish habitat in a specific area, and the logging company then tries to do a lot of logging along streams in a much larger and climactically different area on the grounds that "we have shown that logging improves fish habitat".

THE DEGREE TO WHICH PEOPLE USE OUR RESULTS TO FORM POLICY IS SOMETHING WE CAN'T CONTROL. WE ASKED THE QUESTION, GOT THE RESULTS, AND PUBLISHED THEM. WE ARE NOT STANDING ON SOAP BOXES CLAIMING TO ANYONE WHO WILL LISTEN THAT CLIMBING IS BAD. IT ISN'T AND WE WOULDN'T SAY THAT IT IS. IT IS CERTAIN BEHAVIOURS THAT ARE BAD AND ALL CLIMBERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THIS AND TALK ABOUT IT.

DOUG LARSON

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote:

Originally posted by klenke:
I second what Dru is saying. The Niagara Escarpment and Pacific Northwest escarpments are two completely different 'animals' and correlation between the two should not be made until BOTH have been studied with equal measure.

And that is exactly what my original concern was: that those who would make legislation, etc. could do so without knowing the facts. Instead, they make "changes" based on what they think they know based on a journal article that abridged the issue so much it actually altered its face value.

Hi Klenke,

There has been no work done to show the degree to which west coast cliffs are similar to or different from eastern ones. If you know of such studies, please let me know. What you say might very well be true, but until someone carefully looks, how will anyone know?

doug larson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote:

Originally posted by klenke:
Hey, Mr. Larson, we talked about old old trees about three weeks ago on this site (thread titled, "So you think Beckey's old"). I'm sure you already know about the bristlecone pine.

From old thread:World's longest living thing: Methuselah.4,800 years old +/-. Twice as old as the average elder redwood or sequoia.See:
Or:

Hi again Klenke,

You might not know this story, but in 1964 a scientist by the name of Curry was doing field work in the white Mts. He had been interested in coring Bristlecones to do dendrochronology. The Nat. park service reportedly gave him permission to cut down one (1) tree if he had to. As luck would have it, his cored got stuck after a few trees and he had to cut the tree to retrieve the corer. When counted, it turned out that he had killed the oldest living thin ever found. It was over 4900 years. He never continued doing dendro.

doug larson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doug, that 1200 yr old yellow cedar is growing right by the cross country parking lot in Cypress Prov. Park, I'm not sure how exactly it was dated but its age is recorded in the Hiking Guide to the Big Trees of BC, and as far as I'm aware has been scientifically verified by conservation biologists. It isnt very high(actually it has a snag top about 40-50m up) but it is quite wide around and very slow growing (rerally miniscule growth rings, really tough wood). Too bad most of the park was logged, then turned into downhill ski runs, back in the 1960's and early 1970's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To Dru, I am not Michelle....

To others,In case you didn't know, the Niagara Escarpment has been designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The reserve supports 1177 species of the native flora of Ontario with greater than 70% of those species considered to be rare in the regions through which the escarpment passes. 72% of all bird species recorded in Ontario (69% of the known breeding birds in the province), 49 native mammal species, 39 native reptile and amphibian species and 98 butterfly species are also found in the reserve. Almost 150 of these faunal species are considered to be of provincial concern (i.e. endangered, threatened, vulnerable or rare).

We're not just trying to protect old trees here. The reserve contains both privately and publicly owned land. The rock climbing that occurs on the Escarpment is on public land within designated conservation areas. As conservation managers have no control over what happens on the privately owned areas, they must act to ensure that the sites under public control are managed such that this diversity is not threatened. The study by McMillan and Larson has shown that the impact climbers have extends futher than the ancient cedars into the entire vegetation community. As the habitat becomes denuded in these areas fragmentation increases, the distance between pristine areas increases, and the ability of the system to continue as a biodiversity reserve is threatened.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

is it not true that 99% of all species that have inhabited the earth are now extinct?? i dunno?? and is not also selfish of humankind to think that it is our job to decied how, when, why and where all current species are controlled....

is it possible that the passing of one specie could possible open the door way for a new one?? and what about diseases and other viruses?? i think according to modern science we all started out as some pile of goo somewhere too...and now we are erradicating the possible future inhabitants of the planet, in a selfish mission to presevere ourselves.....

i really think christain tainted science is very subjective and is used mostly now to sell certain ideas, laws and busniess practices.....

just some more thoughts!??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Prof. Larson, I brought back the Methuselah tree thread "So you think Beckey's old?" to thread page one so you can read through it at your leisure if you so desire.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HI Klenke,

You're quite right to point out that Curry killed what was at the time the oldest living thing. As far as Methusela is concerned, the 'currently' oldest living Bristlecones are evaluated using increment boring. They too are near 4900 years but in most cases the pith (the centre of the tree) is lost so all we have are maximum ring counts. When one gets near 5000, who cares, they all incredibly old. There has been some recent published reports of ancient fungi and ancient cresote bushes. These estimates talk about 12000 year old organisms. I have written a paper about this in Journal of Experimental Gerontology (I can send you a reprint if you'd like) in which I point out that for both the fungi and creosote bush stories the clonally expanding plant might be part of genome that is 12000 years old, but the branches of what you'd call the bush are no more than 20 years. In the case of the fungus, the tissue is no more than 1 year old. If we allow clonally expanding organisms to be included in this discussion, then E. coli bacteria are probably millions of years old since they've been expanding clonally for that time or more.

Doug Larson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote:

Originally posted by DOUG LARSON:
HI Klenke,

You're quite right to point out that Curry killed what was at the time the oldest living thing. As far as Methusela is concerned, the 'currently' oldest living Bristlecones are evaluated using increment boring. They too are near 4900 years but in most cases the pith (the centre of the tree) is lost so all we have are maximum ring counts. When one gets near 5000, who cares, they all incredibly old. There has been some recent published reports of ancient fungi and ancient cresote bushes. These estimates talk about 12000 year old organisms. I have written a paper about this in Journal of Experimental Gerontology (I can send you a reprint if you'd like) in which I point out that for both the fungi and creosote bush stories the clonally expanding plant might be part of genome that is 12000 years old, but the branches of what you'd call the bush are no more than 20 years. In the case of the fungus, the tissue is no more than 1 year old. If we allow clonally expanding organisms to be included in this discussion, then E. coli bacteria are probably millions of years old since they've been expanding clonally for that time or more.

Doug Larson

SAVE THE ANCIENT E.COLI!!!!!!

tongue.gif" border="0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"really think christain tainted science is very subjective and is used mostly now to sell certain ideas, laws and busniess practices....."

"Christian tainted" science? What is this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

posted 04-10-2002 01:35 PM --------------------------------------------------------------------------------While you may be right in your study Doug, what you are going to achieve by pushing this line of thinking is alienating a constituency that is more likely to be pro eco than the rest of the population.I suggest that you guys rethink your priorities. As far as I'm concerned global warming is head and shoulders above cliff habitat when it comes to problems we need to deal with. What we need is for people to work together on the really big problem before we start fighting over little things. In short your helping George W and his buddies divide and conquer.

All I can say is I'm going to be pissed if I can't ski. I'll probably turn to crime, and the first house I'm going to rob will be Fairweathers. tongue.gif" border="0

I didn't get a rise out of Doug or Fairweather on the other thread, so I thought I post it here too. tongue.gif" border="0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

quote:

Originally posted by AlpineK:
posted 04-10-2002 01:35 PM --------------------------------------------------------------------------------While you may be right in your study Doug, what you are going to achieve by pushing this line of thinking is alienating a constituency that is more likely to be pro eco than the rest of the population.I suggest that you guys rethink your priorities. As far as I'm concerned global warming is head and shoulders above cliff habitat when it comes to problems we need to deal with. What we need is for people to work together on the really big problem before we start fighting over little things. In short your helping George W and his buddies divide and conquer.

All I can say is I'm going to be pissed if I can't ski. I'll probably turn to crime, and the first house I'm going to rob will be Fairweathers.
tongue.gif" border="0

I didn't get a rise out of Doug or Fairweather on the other thread, so I thought I post it here too.
tongue.gif" border="0

Sorry K. I ain't gonna' bite.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×