Tue. Jan 25th, 2022

Saint Bernard de Clairvaux once said, “Believe one who knows: you will find something greater in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.”

There are many benefits of trees, and planting a tree can be a personal and satisfying experience. Trees provide shade and windbreaks around buildings, which can reduce heating and cooling costs. There are many additional benefits to the natural environment, including soil protection and improving the quality of surface water. Trees are a relatively simple approach to combat climate change and reduce carbon dioxide.

The Gordon Natural Area on South Campus provides a deciduous woodland buffer in the Plum Run watershed, surrounded by development.  The preservation of the Gordon Natural Area (GNA) is important for both environmental vitality and sustainability. Seasonal tree plantings are a crucial step in the restoration and protection of forests, especially the GNA.

The most recent tree planting in the GNA was Saturday, Oct. 25. The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Watershed Restoration & Protection Grant and the Brandywine Conservancy’s Reforestation Campaign funded this effort. Trees and stakes that would be used for protection were delivered earlier in the week. The planting area was then organized and marked in preparation for the volunteers’ arrival.

Approximately 75 students and Rotary Club members joined together to plant 300 trees. White oak, sugar maple, hornbeam, hackberry, eastern red cedar, and gray birch trees were grown at the Octoraro Native Plant Nursery.

There are many environmental benefits of tree plantings in the GNA. These trees will provide wildlife habitat and reduce the amount of water going into the East Branch of Plum Run. Additionally, trees take in and store carbon, produce oxygen, and reduce air pollution all of which will improve the environmental quality of the GNA, and subsequently WCU.

There are many opportunities to participate in community tree plantings. Three hundred more trees will be planted in the spring in the Gordon Natural Area.

This fall, the Brandywine Conservancy worked with almost 500 volunteers to plant 3,400 trees.

“Like” the Facebook pages of The Gordon Natural Area, Brandywine Conservancy and WCU Sustainability to keep up to date on volunteer opportunities and other tree news.

Kristen B. Crossney, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning and she is the  Communications Subcommittee Chair for the Sustainability Advisory Council.  She can be reached at KCrossney@wcupa.edu.

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