An update on the longleaf

by Loose Leaf Team

By Sofia Maia-Goldstein, Policy Intern

America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative (ALRI), a group of private and public partners that seeks to restore and conserve longleaf pine ecosystems in the southeast U.S., made strides in the political world last week.

Addressing the loss of 90 million acres of longleaf forests from its original range, American Forests and a diverse number of stakeholders, including conservation and forestry groups, private landowners, and multiple state and federal agencies, have come together to work towards restoring millions of acres of longleaf forest.

The southeastern U.S. has seen a loss of 90 million acres of longleaf from its original range. Source: USDA/Flickr

The southeastern U.S. has seen a loss of 90 million acres of longleaf from its original range. Source: USDA/Flickr

In the past five years, 1.38 million acres of newly planted trees have helped reverse the decline of the species, which ranges from Virginia to Texas. In celebration of progress, the initiative held a panel, featuring Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who moderated a small group of landowners, a state forester, industry and Longleaf Partnership Council members to discuss the success to date as well as how to sustain efforts in years 6-10. Following the panel, a reception was hosted by Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Jason Weller and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

In addition to celebration, constituents and conservation organizations visited Congress to address necessary funding for reforestation programs to ensure the reestablishment of longleaf continues on an upwards trend.

Although the Farm Bill provides mandatory funding for many of these programs, the FY15 Agriculture Appropriations bill currently proposes a reduction to a number of programs, including the Environmental Incentives Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program and the regional Conservation Partnership Program. When discussing FY15 with congressional staffers, the ALRI advocated for the FY12 levels for these programs, as funding has decreased from that appropriated level since.

Addressing wildland fire and budgeting problems in the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior will also be critical in maintaining longleaf pine forests and ensuring money from associated programs is not shorted because of a “borrowing effect” from a lack of funds for fire suppression. Proper funding for these programs would mean quicker and more efficient restoration along with a number of economic, environmental and social benefits for communities involved.

These precious forests support a large amount of wildlife species, offer high quality timber opportunities, provide a buffer zone for military installations, and restore historical integrity to the land. American Forests has recognized the critical importance of these pines by taking action on the ground. Through several programs, we have helped plant more than five million longleaf pines since 1992. These new habitats continue to offer a home for endangered species including the gopher tortoise and the red cockaded woodpecker.

Together with support from several regional and federal agencies, constituents and landowners, American Forests will continue to advocate for the reforestation of longleaf pine and the benefits the species brings to the southeastern U.S.

Be sure to check out Loose Leaf later this week for a post from Communications Intern Caroline Brooks and me about our experience with longleaf restoration advocacy on Capitol Hill!


Forest Digest — Week of July 21

by Loose Leaf Team

Start your weekend off right with the latest edition of Forest Digest!

Here is this week’s news in trees:

Forest Digest — Week of July 14

by Loose Leaf Team

Friday has arrived and so has our weekly Forest Digest!

Here’s this week’s news in trees:


National park loyal to native wonders

by Loose Leaf Team

By Caroline Brooks, Communications Intern

hawaii wild for web

This October, American Forests and its partners will lead a group of our members in a unique Hawaiian experience, offering them exclusive insight into the magnificence of the Big Island. Our group will not only witness some of Hawaiʻi’s gorgeous landscapes, wildlife, and plant life, but we will also come to understand the dangers facing these local treasures.

On Day 2 of our adventure, trip-goers will visit Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park to observe the volcanoes and rainforests that make the area unique. We will hike along the Thurston Lava Tube and the Kilauea Iki Trail. Park rangers will inform the group of plans to reforest the park with native species.

The Hawksbill Turtle, known to Hawaiians as Honu ‘Ea, is one of the Island’s endangered species that the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park plans to recover in full. Photo: Legis/Wikimedia Commons

The Hawksbill Turtle, known to Hawaiians as Honu ‘Ea, is one of the state’s endangered species that the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park plans to recover in full.
Photo: Legis/Wikimedia Commons

Before we understand Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park’s solutions, we must first comprehend its problems. Within the park boundaries, numerous indigenous species are protected. But beyond, habitat destruction, disease, and non-native plants and animals have endangered these species’ survival over the last two centuries.

Like the Hawaiian wildlife, the native vegetation that grows in the park is threatened too. Invasive plants and animals that have been introduced into the island’s ecosystem over hundreds of years have impacted the livelihood of the native plant species.

The park is ardent about its duty of restoring ecosystems and protecting natural resources. Park staff hopes to drive out the foreign species of plants and animals that threaten the survival of this vital ecosystem, while restoring it to its natural state through reforestation. Additionally, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park aspires to recover several endangered wildlife species. Once all of these changes have been implemented, the National Park Service will regularly monitor animal populations to ensure their permanence.

Come along with us this October to experience the endangered flora and fauna that Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park serves. Special rates for the trip are available through July 18. We can’t wait to see you on the Island!


Read about some of the plants and animals that we will encounter on Hawaiʻi Wild:

  • Hawaiʻi Wild Part One: A young state with an ancient history — American Forests’ upcoming Forestscape adventure will introduce guests to the diverse species that once lived in abundance under the Island’s spacious skies as well as to the valiant efforts to protect them from invasive, destructive forces. 
  • Hawaiʻi Wild Part Two: Something to crow about in Hawaiʻi — The Hawaiian crow is one of the state’s most critically endangered species; however, a San Diego Zoo program solemnly strives to reform this status.
  • Hawaiʻi Wild Part Three: King koa — A dwindling koa tree population has compelled various reforestation groups to action.

Expect Big (Tree) things from LTI grant recipients

by Loose Leaf Team

By Caroline Brooks, Communications Intern

Big tree hunting just got easier for ten programs, thanks to the American Forests and LTI grant.

This year, American Forests partnered with Laser Technology, Inc. (LTI) for the first time to issue 10 refurbished TruPulse 360 compass laser rangefinders to a group of state big tree programs from across the country.

Lasers are used to accurately and consistently measure trees, an essential process when state programs receive nominations to The National Big Tree Register. Each of the recipient programs has a history of commitment to the National Big Tree Program, and American Forests and LTI agreed that their programs would benefit from the grant. Recipients include:

  • Alaska State Register of Big Trees — Don Bertolette
  • California Register of Big Trees — Matt Ritter
  • Connecticut’s Notable Trees — Frank Kaputa
  • Florida Champion Tree Program — Steve Lloyd
  • Iowa Big Tree Program — Emma Hanigan
  • Missouri’s Big Tree Program — Donna Baldwin
  • New Hampshire Big Tree Program — Kamalendu Nath
  • Ohio Big Tree Program — Lisa Bowers
  • Oregon Champion Tree Registry — Will Koomjian
  • Virginia Big Tree Program — Eric Wiseman

Here is how some of the grant winners will use their laser rangefinders to enhance their big tree programs:

The laser rangefinder will help the program remeasure [sic] and verify current records as well as measure newly nominated big trees. This information will help contribute to our efforts to create a statewide database of big trees in California. We hope the rangefinder will help us to attain complete information for every big tree record in the registry. — Matt Ritter

We expect a laser rangefinder would improve our program by making tree measuring an easier and more accurate task than it currently is… Also, comparing side-by-side measurements of laser rangefinders and clinometers, we might develop better methods of measuring using our existing tools. — Frank Kaputa

Once we show how well the TruPulse 360 can work in an urban environment, chances are I will be able to make the case for equipping all our urban foresters in the future, or at least provide one big tree measuring kit for each of our 8 regions in the state. — Donna Baldwin

A laser rangefinder will improve the accuracy of our tree measurements and the integrity of our database. This will foster positive public perceptions of our program and keep citizens engaged with us. — Eric Wiseman

American Forests congratulates all of the LTI grant recipients. We are thrilled to see how the TruPulse® 360 compass laser rangefinders will benefit these big tree programs!


Forest Digest — Week of July 7

by Loose Leaf Team

TGIFF — Thank God It’s Forest Friday! Start your weekend off with our Forest Digest.

Here is this week’s news in trees:

“Amazon rainforest once looked more like savannas of Africa than a jungle”Mother Nature Network
Once upon a time, man-made trenches spread across Bolivia and Brazil. From these ditches grew the Amazon rainforest. What this indicates today is that humans have been altering the environment for thousands of years.

“A Fungal Disease is Destroying Maine’s White Pines”Nature World News
Can the white pine trees get a doctor STAT? A fungus called white pine needle disease is spreading rapidly across southern Maine and could spell disaster for the area’s white pine forests.

“Chinese forestry scholars tap U.S. research on sustainable outdoor recreation”Virginia Tech News
Virginia Tech adjunct Professor of Natural Resource Recreation Jeff Marion is working with Qinglin Huang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Forestry’s Research Institute of Forest Resource Information Techniques, to devise a plan to make China’s forests international vacation destinations.

Forest protection elements in American Forests' 2014 Honduras reforestation project include holistic pest control, awareness building activities to discourage illegal logging and sustainable crop management.

Forest protection elements in American Forests’ 2014 Honduras reforestation project include holistic pest control, awareness building activities to discourage illegal logging and sustainable crop management.


“In the Colombian rainforest, an experiment in community-driven climate protection”Grist
Along the Tolo River in Colombia, rainforest trees can rest easy. A local group, whose name translated is Black Communities of the Tolo River and Southern Coast, vows to preserve the trees and save them from logging.

“Mountain pine beetle, a major disturbance agent in US western coniferous forests: A synthesis of the state of knowledge”U.S. Forest Service
The USDA’s Western Bark Beetle Research Group has compiled old and new research in one publication for the first time. This series will help forest managers, scientists, and students to learn about the mountain pine beetle from A to Z.

“Logging and burning cause the loss of 54 million tons of carbon a year in Amazonia”ScienceDaily
A study on the effects of selective logging in the Amazon rainforest discloses that the deforestation could be releasing 54 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

“Undead Forests Around Chernobyl Won’t Decompose”Nature World News
What doesn’t rot them makes them a subject of research. Dead forests located within the range of immediate radiation of the Chernobyl disaster have not showed signs of decay over the past three decades. Scientists are studying these trees to understand the effect of radiation exposure on decomposition.

“How Your Old Cellphone Could Help Stop Illegal Logging And Poaching”HuffPost Green/MNN
The forests called; they want your old Android phone back. An organization called Rainforest Connection is utilizing unwanted cellphones to create listening devices that thwart illegal logging and poaching.


King koa

by Loose Leaf Team

By Caroline Brooks, Communications Intern

American Forests’ Hawaiʻi Wild Forestscape adventure in October will take our group to the Kona district, where we will enjoy the beaches and coffee plantations that characterize the area. In addition, our quest to understand the island’s endangered flora and fauna will continue as we discover the history and conservation efforts surrounding the koa tree.

The koa tree, unique to Hawaiʻi, has become endangered due to forest destruction. Photo: Forest & Kim Starr/Flickr

The koa tree, unique to Hawaiʻi, has become endangered due to forest destruction.
Photo: Forest & Kim Starr/Flickr

Centuries ago, the native koa tree dominated the forests here. The arrival of colonists and settlers to Hawaiʻi resulted in degradation of the land, with foreign plants and animals, disease and deforestation contributing to the decline of the koa population.

Additionally, high demand for the tree’s wood has strained the number of remaining koas. The species is cherished for its curly grain and array of colors, rendering it one of the island’s most valuable timber sources.

However, the koa possesses worth beyond its timber. Mature trees function as habitat for several endangered birds: the akiapolaau, akepa and Hawaiian creeper. Koa also produce a large percentage of leaf biomass that freshwater fish eat.

That’s why our group will not only learn about conservation work happening in the area, but we will participate in the effort as well. We will make our way to a Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods project in the mountains, dedicated to reforesting land that has been cleared for grazing. At the site, every member of our group will have the chance to plant a koa tree. The planters will receive the GPS coordinates of their seedlings so they can track their tree’s progress for years to come.

Planting a koa tree is one step on the path to restoring and protecting Hawaiʻi’s indigenous marvels. It guarantees that native Hawaiian wildlife will always have food and shelter. It satisfies the demand for valuable timber. Above all, planting a koa tree ensures that the king of Hawaiian forests will always have its crown.


Read about some of the other plants and animals that we will encounter on Hawaiʻi Wild:

  • Hawaiʻi Wild Part One: A young state with an ancient history  American Forests’ upcoming Forestscape adventure will introduce guests to the diverse species that once lived in abundance under the Island’s spacious skies as well as to the valiant efforts to protect them from invasive, destructive forces. 
  • Hawaiʻi Wild Part Two: Something to crow about in Hawaiʻi The Hawaiian crow is one of the state’s most critically endangered species; however, a San Diego Zoo program solemnly strives to reform this status.
  • Hawaiʻi Wild Part Four: National park loyal to native wonders — Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is intent in its duty to restore endangered plant and animal species so they can freely roam the land that they call home.

 


Forest Digest — Week of June 30

by Loose Leaf Team

Loose Leaf wishes all of our readers a very happy Fourth of July! No matter how you commemorate the day, we would like to share another edition of Forest Digest to celebrate the trees that beautify our country, from sea to shining sea.

Here’s this week’s news in trees:

Celebrate America's forests with this week's Forest Digest!  Photo: Andy/Flickr

Celebrate America’s forests with this week’s Forest Digest!
Photo: Andy/Flickr

“Crews Making Progress against San Juan Fire in Arizona”Associated Press/HuffPost Green
These crews are on fire! Well…figuratively. Firefighters endeavor to contain a blaze that has singed nine square miles in the eastern mountains of Arizona.

“Everglades restoration project has had modest impact, report shows”Reuters
One small step for the ecosystem … A long-term project to restore Florida’s Everglades has had a minute influence due to sporadic federal funding.

“Scientists ask Obama to protect old growth forest”Phys.Org
American and Canadian scientists are taking their concern straight to the top. Last week, 75 experts wrote President Obama petitioning for a policy to protect America’s old-growth forest.

“More carbohydrates make trees more resistant to drought”ScienceDaily
Here’s someone who certainly won’t be going carb-free. Ecologists at the University of Zurich have found that the more carbohydrates a tropical tree stores, the better it will be able to endure droughts.

“How Global Forest Watch is changing the way we fight deforestation”TreeHugger
Global Forest Watch is a relatively new website that tracks changes in forests that demonstrates the power of technology. Governments and environmental groups in several countries are implementing the service to help protect their forests.


Something to crow about in Hawaiʻi

by Loose Leaf Team

By Caroline Brooks, Communications Intern

The Hawaiʻi Endangered Bird Conservation Program is dedicated to reestablishing the Hawaiian Crow in the wild. Photo: Larry O'Brien/Flickr

The Hawaiʻi Endangered Bird Conservation Program is dedicated to reestablishing the Hawaiian Crow in the wild.
Photo: Larry O’Brien/Flickr

In October, 26 individuals will get to experience the Big Island from a fresh perspective on American Forests’ Hawaiʻi Wild Forestscape. On this excursion, we will visit several natural Hawaiian wonders and meet with local officials who will explain the threats surrounding these plants and animals in addition to the measures being taken to protect them.

At the Hawaiʻi Endangered Bird Conservation Program, our group will be introduced to several threatened aviary species that rely on these forests for survival. One of the species we will meet is the Hawaiian crow (Corvus hawaiiensis). Known to Islanders as ʻalalā, this bird is critically endangered. Over time, hunting, habitat destruction and disease have killed virtually all of the Hawaiian crow population; the bird has not been spotted in the wild since 2002.

The Hawaiian crow has not existed in the wild for over a decade.  Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons

The Hawaiian crow has not existed in the wild for over a decade.
Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons

The San Diego Zoo opened the conservation site on the island two decades ago to protect and restore endangered birds. The program has worked to recover the population in hopes of reestablishing the ʻalalā in the wild.

Since 1993, the program had released 27 Hawaiian crows into the wild. However, by 1999, 21 of these birds were reported missing or dead due to disease and predators. The six birds that had not met such a fate were brought back to the program, where they will remain until the conditions improve for the ʻalalā.

Fortunately, things are looking promising for a future attempt at reintroducing the species to the wild. To fulfill this ambition, the Hawaiʻi Endangered Bird Conservation Program hatches Hawaiian crow chicks annually. In 2011, their population totaled 95, thanks to the addition of 19 chicks. The goal of the program is to release 400 Hawaiian crows into the wild — enough to remove the bird from the endangered species list.

To see this rare, endangered bird and the one-of-a-kind forests it calls home, join us in October. Special rates are now available for the final spots on the trip. We hope to see you there!


Read about some of the other plants and animals that we will encounter on Hawaiʻi Wild:

  • Hawaiʻi Wild Part One: A young state with an ancient history — American Forests’ upcoming Forestscape adventure will introduce guests to the diverse species that once lived in abundance under the Island’s spacious skies as well as to the valiant efforts to protect them from invasive, destructive forces.
  • Hawaiʻi Wild Part Three: King koa — A dwindling koa tree population has compelled various reforestation groups to action.
  • Hawaiʻi Wild Part Four: National park loyal to native wonders — Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is intent in its duty to restore endangered plant and animal species so they can freely roam the land that they call home.

Anthropologie customers aflutter over forests

by Loose Leaf Team

Anthropologie’s BIRMINGHAM, Ala. store was one location that auctioned off the monarchs from its window display.

By Caroline Brooks, Communications Intern

Last week, Anthropologie stores across the country held a Monarch Butterfly Auction, where customers purchased bids for the store’s cool, creative window displays. What is so special to American Forests about this event is that every dollar that the retail brand raised from this event will help us plant another tree — and that’s what American Forests is all about!

To commemorate the event, we would like to share some of the customers’ kind words:

I am pleased to get the butterfly, but even more so, I am happy to know about the work of the American Forests! I might never have known about the organization and am impressed with Anthropologie on a new level now. The talent and creativity that comes out of your stores is inspiring as is the generosity of your talented artists. I am proud to be a part of that work and to have a piece of Anthropologie as well. — Allison (MEMPHIS, Tenn.)

Thanks again to you and the company for doing this. It is not often you see clothing companies being innovative in giving back to community! — Dara (GREENVILLE, S.C.)

I hope Anthropologie does this more often, it’s a great way to raise money for a good cause. — Jane (FAIRFAX, Va.)

I love how this works. Way to go. I feel even better about spending money on the monarchs!! — Jenny (SOUTHLAKE, Texas)

Happy to do it! The donations are a wonderful idea and certainly align with the priorities of at least part of the core Anthro market – those of us that are interested in being unique and stylish – but not at the expense of the environment. Applause to you all for finding creative ways to upcycle and reuse! — Natalie (CAMBRIDGE, Mass.)

So far, the event has brought in nearly $15,000! We are grateful to Anthropologie and the many customers who contributed to this wonderful campaign.