The Return Of The American Chestnut Tree To Virginia
The demise of the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) has been described as one of the great ecological disasters of current time. Through the first-half of the 20th century, the species was virtually eliminated from the landscape by an Asiatic blight fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica) introduced on Japanese chestnut materials imported to the United States in the late 1800s.
›The American chestnut was densely populated with a range from Maine to Georgia (Figure 1). The Pennsylvania Blight Commission estimated that more than 25% of the state’s hardwoods were American chestnut trees in the early 1900s(1). In native forests throughout their range, mature chestnuts are storied to have averaged up to five feet in diameter and up to one hundred feet tall (Figure 2). Many specimens of eight to ten feet in diameter were recorded, and there were rumors of trees bigger still. [Read more…]
Director of Digital Outreach (D.O.D.O.) for The Rewilding Institute
Host and Producer of the Rewilding Earth Podcast
Jack started Rewilding work as Executive Director of Sky Island Alliance in the mid-1990’s, organizing the Sky Island Wildlands Network design, ripping up illegal roads on forest service lands, installing wolf acclimatization pens on Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch & conducting howling surveys to help make way for the final stage of the Lobo reintroduction program in the Southwest.
Through the years, Jack has worked with Dave Foreman and the Rewilding Gang to further Rewilding initiatives and education.
I’m on the fence about things like this. On one hand, restoring native trees & forests is a great thing. But the key is “native.” By creating hybrid trees, the genes of the American chestnut is being polluted and are not really native.
The big lesson here is that some things broken can’t be fixed, so don’t break them in the first place. It’s clear that the guy interviewed and groups like the Nature Conservancy are anthropocentric, so they just view this as what’s good for humans (despite the short statement about wildlife eating chestnuts). We have to be very careful with things like creating hybrids, because they’re not naturally evolved life, and because humans don’t know anywhere near as much as they think they do.Reply