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Soils and Forestry Presentation (video)

by Paul Wheaton

Mark Vander Meer gives a presentation on soil science as it relates to forestry. I was presenting in another room at the same time, so Mark gave permission to Jocelyn Campbell to record this for me. Once I saw it, I thought it was so good, that I asked Mark if it was okay to put it up on YouTube.

Mark is a soil scientist who works as a wild restoration ecologist in Montana. His presentation focuses on soil restoration and is very much question driven.

He starts off by talking about the watershed death spiral, where the soil loses its ability to hold water. Mark identifies three main reasons for that to occur: Compaction, roads, and loss of soil organic matter. He explains that the problem results in streams and springs disappearing.

He then starts talking about the basic components of soil (sand, silt, and clay) and the very important water stable aggregate. This last component is formed of sand, silt and clay held together mostly by fungi. The water stable aggregate is very important because it holds its form in the presence of water and allows the soil to keep pockets of air instead of turning to pudding. These air pockets are critical to biological life.

Mark explains that gardeners are very accustomed to creating water stable aggregate by adding compost to soil. In his work he uses slashing (the wood bits and branches left over from logging) to restore the aggregate after logging operations. He then explains that spreading slashing helps to decompact the soil and to restore biological activity. In turns this helps to restore the watershed to health.

He concludes the presentation talking about road reclamation, deer pressure, and white rot vs. brown rot.

Paul Wheaton

Paul Wheaton is the tyrannical dictator of, the largest permaculture forum on the web. As a certified master gardener and permaculture designer, he's built an empire around what he calls, 'infecting brains with permaculture'. His forums are full of rich information, and there are a number of great free resources, guides, and articles that can be found on his sister site, as well. Most recently, he has worked with rocket mass heater experts Ernie and Erica in developing a 4 DVD set on all things rocket science, and has built a following around his World Domination Gardening DVDs, which detail how to use hugelkultur, swales, and natural ponds to capture and utilize water without irrigation. His recent work with natural buildings based on Mike Oehler's designs have resulted in the creation of the Wofati, a semi underground natural home design. Currently, Paul continues to run his internet empire, and is now offering several opportunities for people to learn and experience permaculture at his property in western Montana, where he offers PDCs, workshops, living arrangements, and even resort stays.


  1. This is really excellent. I don’t exactly do forest management and didn’t know if it would be worth my time, but the information was extremely valuable. Who knew water stable aggregates were so intriguing? Thanks for featuring this.

  2. What a great video! Very informative and instructional. Thank you for taking the time to share this.

  3. Thanks for posting this video. For those of us in forested environments it was very informative. Mark is also an outstanding presenter.

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