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.


Forest Digest — Week of June 23

by Loose Leaf Team

Another Friday means another edition of Forest Digest!

Here is the week’s news in trees:

California's redwoods are increasingly threatened by poacher activity in state and national parks. Photo: National Parks Service

California’s redwoods are increasingly threatened by poacher activity in state and national parks.
Photo: National Parks Service

“Iconic Minnesota conifers may give way to a more broad-leafed forest in the next century”Phys.org
The U.S. Forests Service’s study of Minnesota forests presents a good-news-bad-news situation. The bad news: Climate changes over the next century could hurt several species of trees located in the southern region of the forest. The good news: This study allows conservationists to be proactive in protecting these trees for coming generations.

“Clever Trees Won’t be Fooled by a Tricky Climate”Nature World News
Though botanists and ecologists fear that patterns of elevated temperatures will undermine tree populations, the plants themselves are dispelling these rumors. New findings from the Ludwig Munich Botanical Garden reveal that some species are able to adapt to temperatures, based on the amount of sunlight they receive daily.

“California’s ancient redwood trees under attack”Science Daily
Poachers and chainsaws and deforestation — oh my! California’s iconic redwood trees are more susceptible to disease thanks to poachers who remove their burls, which are growths that protect the trees but also possess valuable wood grains. Forest managers are increasingly concerned for the safety of the redwoods and are taking measures to preserve the population.

“Making progress on deforestation”Phys.org
Brazil shoots and scores! Recent research indicates that the country has reduced Amazon rainforest deforestation by 70 percent. Brazil is also the leading contributor to reducing global warming.

“Protecting and connecting the Flathead National Forest in Montana”Science Daily
A Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) report highlights safe habitats for five species that reside in Flathead National Forest. Though the forest has long been protected by citizens and leaders, WCS fears the plants, animals and rivers might not be prepared for impending changes.

“Cloud Forests and Biodiversity”ENN
Tropical cloud forests, which can be found in and among mountains, have been thought to contain vast biodiversity. A study from mongabay.com says there’s many trees in the mist too!

 


Global ReLeaf Goes Swimmingly in Vermont

by Loose Leaf Team

By Caroline Brooks, Communications Intern

Throughout National Rivers Month, we have taken a look at American Forests’ efforts to preserve rivers across the country.

American Forests is helping restore damages to the White River through reforestation.  Photo: Selbe & Lily/Flickr

American Forests is helping restore damages to the White River through reforestation.
Photo: Selbe & Lily/Flickr

The Washington and New Mexico Global ReLeaf projects we discussed demonstrate the importance of trees to the rivers and, in turn, to the animals that rely on those rivers for survival.

Another Global ReLeaf project that illustrates this relationship began in 2013, when American Forests joined the U.S. Forest Service for the Riparian Tree Planting project in Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest. This project sought to restore areas of the forest damaged by Tropical Storm Irene. The 2011 storm caused flooding that severely impaired plant life along the state’s rivers.

The ReLeaf project came about to restore the habitat of the Atlantic salmon in Vermont’s White River. In order to achieve this restoration, American Forests, the U.S. Forest Service and local volunteers worked together to plant 4,000 trees to reforest the area. These trees have already had positive effects. Reforestation improves filtration of the water in the White River. The new trees also decrease water temperatures, improving conditions for the salmon. Additionally, the greenery serves as a food source and a habitat for some wildlife species.

As National Rivers Month comes to a close, I encourage you to continue to learn about preserving our country’s waterways.

Reading up on American Forests’ other Global ReLeaf efforts is one way to discover the integral role that rivers play in every ecosystem. Participating in local projects — perhaps a reforestation event — is another wonderful way to support waterways and ensure a future for the rivers that make America beautiful.


A young state with an ancient history

by Loose Leaf Team

By Caroline Brooks, Communications Intern

Many threatened Hawaiʻian plants can be found along the Kilauea Iki Crater Hike in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Photo: Lindsay Joyce/Flickr

Many threatened Hawaiʻian plants can be found along the Kilauea Iki Crater Hike in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.
Photo: Lindsay Joyce/Flickr

American Forests invites you to bid “aloha” to the mainland and come along on our Hawaiʻi Wild Forestscape this fall. For one week this October, our group will explore some of the Island’s most captivating sights, from volcanoes and beaches to wildlife to forest habitat. While we appreciate these Hawaiian wonders, we will also learn about the threats to their existence.

For millions of years, plants and animals across the Hawaiian Islands evolved in isolation, creating perhaps the most unique ecosystem in the world. The various species of wildlife and vegetation thrived in their natural habitat until the arrival of the first human settlers 1,000 years ago. These settlers — the Polynesians — brought with them new animal species and hunted the archipelago’s native creatures. Additionally, they cleared much of the forest lowland to plant their own non-native crops.

The most severe destruction occurred in the 1800s, when European and American colonists introduced cattle and livestock to Hawaiʻi. The animals were not supervised and roamed freely, damaging acres of forestland.

The Nene, the Hawaiʻian state bird, is one of the Island's critically endangered indigenous species.  Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Nene, the Hawaiʻian state bird, is one of the Island’s critically endangered indigenous species.
Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Government and industry officials grew concerned that the livestock would deplete sources of water throughout Hawaiʻi. In turn, this would cap the production of sugarcane, the territory’s main cash crop.

Hawaiʻi’s first preservation movement followed in 1903, when the Territorial Legislature established its Division of Forestry, which possessed the power to form forest reserve systems. They sought to block and remove livestock from indigenous forests and develop reforestation and fire-control programs.

The reserves planted some 2 million trees by the late 1930s. However, these species were foreign to Hawaiʻi and created sparse, simple forests. Today, less than one percent of Hawaiʻi’s budget goes towards forest management. Simultaneously, imperiled plants and animals experience survival threats from feral animals and invasive vegetation.

On the Hawaiʻi Wild Forestscape, our group will meet with several organizations and agencies dedicated to restoring and protecting the state’s forests. We will visit project sites, observe endangered native species, and engage in dialogue and action to appreciate how the wonders of the island can be preserved for future generations.

In the coming weeks, Loose Leaf will highlight some of the destinations included on Hawaiʻi Wild. We will illustrate the work of groups like Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and the San Diego Zoo.

We will also discuss two endangered flora and fauna, the koa and the Hawaiian Crow, to explain the circumstances that significantly depleted their populations and how they can be protected so that they might flourish again in the Hawaiʻi wild.


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

  • 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.
  • 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 16

by Loose Leaf Team

Happy Friday! We are pleased to share another edition of Forest Digest with you to ring in the weekend.

Here is this week’s news in trees:

“2 Billion New Trees To Be Planted In India, Official Says”HuffPost Green
A plan that fights unemployment and protects forests? Snaps for India! Last week, the country’s Rural Development Ministry introduced a proposal that would employ several hundred thousand young men and women to plant two billion trees along the country’s highways.

Freshwater fish like the salmon rely on tree biomass that falls into the water for sustenance. Photo: PNNL/Flickr

Freshwater fish rely on tree biomass that falls into the water for sustenance.
Photo: PNNL/Flickr

“Researchers Peek into the Mysterious World of Roots”National Association of State Foresters
Scientists in the western United States plan to study tree roots in Northwestern forests to get down to— well— their roots! A great deal of understanding about this underground item remains buried. One question researchers hope to answer regards the role of fungal hyphae, a thin thread that connects the roots of different trees.

Crews make progress battling wildfire in Sequoia National Forest”Los Angeles Times
The Shirley fire, a wildfire that is spreading quickly through California’s Kern County,  made its way to Sequoia National Forest over the weekend. On Monday, officials announced that half of the wildfire in Sequoia National Forest has been contained. Shirley this is due to the valiant efforts of firefighters, who have been combating the blaze both on the ground and in the air.

“Deforestation = Starving fish”Treehugger
Here’s some food for thought: a new study from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences indicates that there is a direct link between forest protection and healthy fish populations. Freshwater fish consume leaves and other types of biomass that fall from trees into the water. What this means is that deforestation threatens the livelihoods of the fish who rely on trees for food.

Learn about American Forests’ efforts to save these aquatic populations in our National Rivers Month series.

“Breeding Trees Better Adapted for Warmer Climates”Nature World News
A recent discovery from the University of Oregon reveals that the EBB1 gene— AKA the bud-break gene— controls trees’ awakening from winter hibernation. This finding could have a tree-mendous impact on adapting to climate change.

“Tree hugging helps koalas keep their cool”Science Daily
Thermal imaging research shows that to beat the heat, koala bears cling to trees whose temperatures are cooler than that of the air. The availability of trees can protect these adorable tree-huggers; a 2009 heatwave killed one fourth of New South Wales’ koala population.


Global ReLeaf making a splash in New Mexico

by Loose Leaf Team

By Caroline Brooks, Communications Intern

A mountain stream in Santa Fe National Park. Photo: Thomas Shahan/Flickr

A mountain stream in Santa Fe National Park.
Photo: Thomas Shahan/Flickr

National Rivers Month continues and so does our coverage of some riparian reforestation projects from the Global ReLeaf program.

In the previous post, we discussed one contribution American Forests has made to the conservation of waterways in order to sustain a species — the salmon — that relies on rivers for survival.

This year saw the start of an ongoing project in New Mexico: the Rio de las Vacas Riparian Revegetation and Watershed Improvement Project. American Forests is partnering with WildEarth Guardians to reforest 120 acres in the Santa Fe National Forest. The hope is that this vegetation will positively impact the utility of watersheds and improve the riparian ecosystem.

Plant life along the river has been depleted by animal grazing and off-roading activities, undermining stream banks and elevating water temperatures, which hurt wildlife populations in the national forest.

Planting trees around Rio de las Vacas would restore shade cover, cool the water and provide increased water filtration, benefiting both the river and the other life forms that depend on it. In turn, all of these factors would sustain life for the fish and other wildlife found in Santa Fe National Forest.

The Rio de las Vacas project is just one of many American Forests activities that protect rivers across the country. Stay tuned to Loose Leaf throughout the month to read about more of the organization’s efforts that support our waterways.


Forest Digest — Week of June 9

by Loose Leaf Team

Loose Leaf is proud to introduce Forest Digest! Once a week, we will share recent forest-related news from around the world.

Check out this week’s news in trees:

“Tree rings give scientists information about weather conditions hundreds of years ago”The Washington Post
David W. Stahle, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arkansas, samples and analyzes the growth rings of the bald cypress trees of Virginia. The width of the rings helps Stahle to understand the weather experienced in the area long before it was inhabited by early settlers.

“USDA Releases State by State Impacts of Limited Wildfire Suppression in Recent Years”United States Department of Agriculture
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that limited federal firefighting funds, which are intended to be spent by states on wildfire preparedness and forest restoration among other outlets, have instead been utilized to fight fires, as other budgets could not provide adequate coverage. Every state is impacted differently by its spending. Across the board, however, the use of these funds has resulted in the weakened value of forest protection programs.

“In Effort To Improve Air Quality, Scientists Explore Plan To Use Trees To Clean Pollution”Associated Press/HuffPost Green

Dow Chemical and the Nature Conservancy are teaming up to reforest the city of Houston in order to cut back on air pollution. The project is inspired by research from the Environmental Protection Agency that indicates that plants─ particularly trees─ collect pollution in their leaves and prevent it from entering the atmosphere.

“Saving trees in tropics could cut emissions by one-fifth, study shows”Phys.Org
Research funded by the Natural Environment Research Council shows that tropical forests collect two billion tons of carbon annually. This number accounts for one-fifth of yearly global carbon emissions. As the climate grows warmer, the amount of carbon emissions from tropical forests grows too. However, researchers conclude that tropical forests could absorb even more carbon if all deforestation efforts were halted.