View Full Version : Paleo Tree Felling

12-07-2009, 02:29
While out for a walk in some jungle yesterday, I noticed a tree which had been ring barked.


Looking up I saw that it was pretty much dead


I was upset since this was good hill forest


I then discovered more trees in a similar situation



This was the work of an aboriginal who was preparing the area for a dusun, a jungle orchard, probably for durians which his family would sell in village markets. There was a village a few klicks away

I explored further and came to another area about a kilometre distant and I saw a tree prepped for felling.


To discover natives using fire and ring barking to fell trees when nowadays even in Borneo they usually use chainsaws was exciting and I wasn’t upset any more. These people had an ancient and moral right to work the land when they used these techniques.

Think of the patience required to ring the trees and then wait months or years before building the fire and felling the tree. And then planting and growing the durian trees ( a native species). Years before the first harvest. This man is leaving a legacy and livelihood for his grandchildren.

It shows a sense of connection to the land that is something we city dwellers can never share

Think of the pain if it was yours and it was felled in 20 years time for a housing estate.

12-07-2009, 04:46
I was told that only the outer layer of the tree (the tree bark) is 'alive'. This layer, if were separated/ severed all around would kill the tree.

Perhaps this is a good demonstration of how to 'kill' a tree :P

Thanks for the post Bod.

12-07-2009, 09:35
They look like the trees on many of the local parks and streets after the residents have decided they dont like trees cause of leaves and light issues, near (or not) their homes. We have to come along after and fell them, and replant. Then the cycle starts again.

Mikey P
12-07-2009, 11:19
From what I remember, the Xylem (carries water & minerals) and Phloem (carries nutrients, etc) are like tubes that exist just under the bark. As you say, if you ring bark the tree, it cuts the tubes and the tree dies. Same deal with deer and squirrels ringbarking trees/saplings in UK. Little blighters!

12-07-2009, 11:28
Cheers for posting this, its the best thing I have read on here in a long time, such a stunning setting aswell. Will you be going back to monitor the progress?.

All the best.

12-07-2009, 18:33
This is really nice to see. This is how my ansesters here in the U.S used to clear land for farming before the whites brought metal axes. Some tribe would just girdle the tree and leave them stand and plant amougst them.
But some tribes that did burn down the trees they would burn them some then chop the burt part with a stone celt and repeat that untill the tree fell. The natives in your area might do it like that.
Here is a stone celt that I made in the same fashoin as my ansesters.
http://img20.imageshack.us/img20/1769/hpim9926.jpg (http://img20.imageshack.us/i/hpim9926.jpg/)
http://img25.imageshack.us/img25/215/hpim9928.jpg (http://img25.imageshack.us/i/hpim9928.jpg/)
I have only cut down saplings with this axe but it works suprizingly well.

Dose the tribe that you talk about use any type of stone axe?
Great post, Thanks.

24-04-2017, 22:05

I just stumbled upon your amazing photos of ring barked trees while looking for resources for a lesson I am teaching on Friday to A level Biology students. I wanted to ask you if you'd mind if I used the first 2 photos and the last one? I want to get the students to think about the significance of the process to the tree and then why people might actually do this on purpose. Please do say if you don't want me to use them.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks very much :)

Robson Valley
28-04-2017, 06:21
The bulk of the water and mineral uptake travels upward in the secondary xylem, aka wood, is what we all call the sap wood.
This is usually the outermost 10-50 growth rings, an inch or two at best.

The products of photosynthesis, the sugars, travel downward in the secondary phloem, the living layer of the innermost bark.
This is expected to feed the entire root system, living in the dark and essentially doing respiration like us people.
When you cut all the way through the bark and into the young wood, you really do cut off all source of supply to
the entire rood system. And the tree dies.

The Mountain Pine Beetle larvae tunnel around in the living secondary phloem for food in our Pinus contorta = Lodge pole Pine.
This effectively ring-barks the trees. That has left us with more than 18,000,000 ha standing dead pine not worth the chainsaw gas to cut it down.

Thanks for a clear cultural document of indigenous forest practices.
I've learned something today and I appreciate that.

Blundstoned Love
02-05-2017, 21:52
I just stumbled upon your amazing photos of ring barked trees while looking for resources for a lesson I am teaching on Friday to A level Biology students. I wanted to ask you if you'd mind if I used the first 2 photos and the last one

Bod hasn't posted here since 2014 mate. You mightn't ever get a response. What are the rules about using an image for educational purposes as long as you credit the source? (I know this works for some copyright & IP issues)

02-05-2017, 22:36
Is there any proof that people during the Paleolithic era felled trees like this?