‘We people are just like our planetmates. We cannot put an end to nature; we can only pose a threat to ourselves… the microbes, the whales, the insects, the seed plants, and the birds, are still singing. The tropical forest trees are humming to themselves, waiting for us to finish our arrogant logging so they can get back to their business of growth as usual. And they will continue their cacophonies and harmonies long after we are gone.’
– Lynn Margulis (from Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution, 1998)
Invasive species of insects (such as the Emerald Ash Borer), plants and even animals, are a threat to the balance of our forest ecosystems. When a tree (i.e. Ash) dies from the effects of being hosted by an ‘invasive’, through controlled pyrolitic burning, its matter can be transformed into a valuable compostable source of soil nutrient. Essential scientific research is being conducted into finding solutions for controlling the spread of invasive species. In the meantime, maybe humans can begin to employ biochar in a process of cultivating new, richly biodiverse forests that can evolve resilience to invasives?
This biochar artwork (tree bark rubbing) is the first in a new series of my ‘organic compost drawings’. These ephemeral drawings are gifts to the soil and a symbolic ritual of thanks. When hung from a tree or laid to rest on the earth, they decay and (in a humble way) enrich small areas of earth. Through a symbiosis of ideas and organic processes, the drawings celebrate the natural cycle of life, death, rebirth and entropy of which we are all a part.
Biochar is a form of charcoal (made by pyrolysis). It is a stable solid, rich in carbon and can be used as a soil amendment which endures in the earth for thousands of years. Due to its carbon sequestration properties, biochar has the potential to help mitigate climatic change, locking-in carbon that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere. This carbon matter can increase soil fertility and thus raise agricultural productivity and reduce pressure on our forests.