Protecting Big Trees: Three Paths Cross

Nestled in the mountains of Appalachia, three nonprofit organizations are following different paths toward the same goal of forest protection, with a particular focus on restoring and conserving native forests. These groups embody innovation and action, traits wholly praised and championed by WildFF. Tackling the many threats facing our forests and big trees in the United States requires that organizations take a diverse set of approaches, maintaining unique cultures and voices and working with others in collaboration. Building on the need for a diverse set of conservation strategies, WildFF supports local projects and organizations that work to protect and restore forests around the world. The hallmark of these projects are always collaborative, place-based and actively involve people.

In addition to WildFF, two other important organizations working to conserve America’s forests are The American Chestnut Foundation (ACF), which actively restores the once-dominant species to native forests; and Dogwood Alliance, which campaigns with grassroots enthusiasm to change public policies destroying Southern forests. These diverse approaches can create big-picture solutions for threatened forests. chestnutAn open bur of the American Chestnut, covered in spikes.

The ACF works to “restore the American chestnut tree to our eastern woodlands to benefit our environment, our wildlife, and our society.” Once the dominant hardwoods tree species in the Eastern US, the American Chestnut was attacked in the early 20th century by the chestnut blight, a fungus introduced from the import of a Japanese chestnut species. As a result of the invasion, an estimated 4 billion American chestnuts, or 25% of the hardwood tree population, were wiped out in the Eastern Appalachians. The ACF is now working to restore the species through scientific breeding and physically planting this majestic and ecologically important tree. So far, ACF has been successful in growing chestnuts that are ever-more resistant to blight. This restoration is a huge undertaking, as evidenced in one of their research plots in Meadowview, Virginia: “almost 50,000 trees planted on over 150 acres.” The ACF is well on its way to restoring native forests and you can help and learn more at www.acf.org.

bluemountainsDogwood Alliance: Also headquartered in Asheville, NC, Dogwood Alliance takes a very different approach to forest protection. Rather than physically re-planting and restoring a species, Dogwood uses grassroots efforts to change policies – whether corporate or governmental – that are unsustainable and destructive to Southern forests. As written on their website, Dogwood Alliance is “a credible, solutions-oriented partner for global companies and landowners in identifying and developing practices that recognize the long-term business advantages of better forest stewardship.” For instance, they have partnered with the KFC-YUM headquarters to adopt a sustainable packaging policy for their brands. Pulp used for paper products and biomass (or bioenergy) is extensively found and extracted from the Southern US and these practices are highly destructive to virgin forests. In order to get companies like KFC-YUM Brands to stop using virgin forests for packaging, it requires pressure from the grassroots level to rally for long-term, wide-ranging change in the forest products industry. Dogwood Alliance’s expertise in leading this activism is yet another approach taken to successfully bring about positive change in our world. You can get involved with Dogwood Alliance by visiting www.dogwoodalliance.org.

 


About the Author

Benjamin Colvin

Benjamin Colvin

Ben is a tireless advocate and leader with a background in wilderness leadership, wildlife and forest conservation and environmental education. He has a MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and is the current President of the Asheville Downtown Association Board of Directors and Mountain Wild! chapter of NWF. Ben brings enthusiasm and passion to WFF flowing from his love of hiking the forests, paddling the rivers and rambling the mountains from Alabama to Montana to his home in Asheville, NC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *