Chestnut Chats from The American Chestnut Foundation

From The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF)

Chestnut Chat: American Chestnut Restoration and Reintroduction Plantings
Friday, August 7 at 11:30AM (EDT) 

[Watch videos from the full archives of Chestnut Chats, from a Virtual Pollination Workshop to Using Drones to Benefit Chestnut Restoration to a Conversation with Chuck Leavell, Keyboardist and Chestnut Enthusiast.]

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Urban Canopy Can Be a Matter of Life or Death

An article by USDA Forest Service research scientists Michelle Kondo and colleagues in the journal Lancet Planetary Health created a global buzz in reporting results of a new citywide health impact assessment of achieving a 30% canopy cover goal in the City of Philadelphia. If done at a neighborhood scale it would cut heat-related illness and reduce premature deaths by 403 residents, including 244 in areas of lower socioeconomic status (95% confidence).

The study conclusion is that urban greening programs can be a means to improve public health, decrease health inequalities, and promote environmental justice. To quickly see canopy cover rates and socio-economic status in your community, visit i-Tree Landscape and enter your zip code or community name, or better yet, complete your own Urban Tree Canopy Assessment.

Research: Which NYC Urban Green Spaces Support More Bird Species and Why?

Excerpted from a July 21, 2020 eBird article by Kathi Borgmann, “Larger urban green spaces support more bird species in New York City”

In a study out this week in Landscape and Urban Planning, Frank La Sorte, a research associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and colleagues wanted to find out what aspects of green spaces support the greatest number of bird species throughout the year.

To their surprise the shape of the green space didn’t change how many bird species were present during the year nor did the distance between green spaces. What mattered most was the size of the green space. Larger green spaces supported a greater number of species year-round. Green spaces with more tree cover also supported more songbird species that migrate at night in the spring.

So what does this mean for urban planners in NYC? “If you want to support birds in urban green spaces,” says La Sorte, “you should make them larger and plant more trees.” 

NY ReLeaf Webinar: Ecological Assessment of New York City’s Natural Areas

Join NY ReLeaf for an urban forestry webinar on July 21st at 10 AM! The Natural Areas Conservancy (NAC) exists to restore and conserve the green and blue spaces of New York City in order to enhance the lives of all New Yorkers. In this webinar, NAC Project Manager Justin Bowers will talk about recent research done in NYC to create a detailed picture of the composition and condition of NYC’s forests and wetlands.

The study collected ecological data in over 1000 plots throughout the City and provided a wealth of data that contributed significantly to the creation of the Forest Management Framework, a guiding document for forest restoration and conservation in NYC over the next 25 years.

Online registration is free but required in advance.

American Chestnut Update: Big Funding News, Public Comment Needed, Seed Engraving, and a Podcast

(Above) Sergey Jivetin creates elaborate engravings on the shells of seeds, including a series carved on American chestnut seeds depicting The American Chestnut Foundation’s restoration efforts. One nut (enlarged) illustrates the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project’s insertion of the oxalate oxidase gene into the American chestnut genome. To see more of Sergey Jivetin’s work, check out his website, Furrow Seed Engraving Project.

Major Gift to SUNY-ESF Chestnut Restoration Project
The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) has announced a grant of $3.2 million over three years from the Templeton World Charity Foundation in support of efforts to restore the endangered American chestnut. This is SUNY-ESF’s largest-ever charitable gift.

The funding will support research and efforts to restore the economically and culturally significant tree species, billions of which were killed by a blight in the early twentieth century. ESF has genetically engineered a new strain of chestnut that includes a single gene from wheat, enabling the tree to detoxify the oxalic acid produced by the invasive fungus that causes the blight. According to the school, this is the first time scientists have sought approval for genetic engineering to restore a native tree species. Earlier this year, the research team submitted to federal agencies a petition that lays out the case for public distribution of the genetically engineered strain.

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Urban Forest Adaptation to Climate Change: Key Tools and Resources

 At the 2019 NY ReLeaf Conference last July in Rochester, Dr. Leslie Brandt presented a fascinating talk about her work on urban forest adaptation to climate change, and she offered up powerful resources and tools to our community. Here’s a brief summary of those resources compiled by blog editor Michelle Sutton in consultation with Dr. Brandt.   

Background

The Climate Change Response Framework (forestadapation.org) is a collaborative, cross-boundary approach among scientists, managers, and landowners to incorporate climate change considerations into natural resource management.

The Framework’s partners are numerous and wide-ranging, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and dozens of state and local governments, Native American tribes and tribal organizations, universities, and ecological and urban forest institutes and organizations.

The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) works with partners to lead Framework activities across the Midwest and Northeast U.S. Within the Climate Change Response Framework, the Urban Forestry focus addresses urban forest vulnerability for cities and creates tools to help local managers adapt to the effects of climate change.

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Beetle, Fungus, Fungus: Research Updates on EAB, DED, and Chestnut Blight

Emerald Ash Borer. A report recently published in the Journal of Economic Entomology offers data on the newest parasitoid wasp released against the EAB beetle: Spathius galinae. One of the authors, Dr. Jian Duan of the Beneficial Insect Introduction Unit at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, says including this species in the biocontrol lineup could be a game-changer. “The addition of S. galinae to the current biocontrol arsenal will provide a whole spectrum of protection for surviving ash trees,” he says. To read more, see the summary article by Melissa Mayer in Entomology Today. Photo credit: Jian Duan, Ph.D., USDA-ARS

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TREE Fund Awardees for Urban Forestry Research

A glimpse into upcoming urban forestry research: Why have a tiny percentage of ash trees survived EAB? How can LIDAR be used to improve urban forest management? How do mycorrhizae help young trees access soil moisture? Why do seemingly healthy trees fail, unpredictably impacting power lines, and how can better failure models be developed?

TREE Fund raises these funds through its annual Tour des Trees epic bike ride. It’s not too late to register to ride in the 2019 Tour des Trees or to sponsor a rider. This year’s ride is in Kentucky and Tennessee, Sept 16-20. 

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Study Findings: Front & Backyard Vegetation in Urban Forest

“Backyards are very important,” says coauthor Dexter Locke. New insights from research on “Urban form, architecture, and the structure of front and backyard vegetation,” by Alessandro Ossolaa, Dexter Locke,
Brenda Linc, and Emily Minord in the Journal of Landscape and Urban Planning. 185 (2019) 141–157

ABSTRACT
Residential yards comprise most land and green space across cities. Despite yards being ubiquitous, little comprehensive information exists on how vegetation varies between front and backyards. This hinders our ability to optimize greening interventions on private urban land.

We devised an accurate GIS algorithm to locate and classify front and backyards within residential landscapes. By applying this method to the greater Boston area, we measured vegetation structure (i.e., canopy cover, height and volume) of front and backyards with LiDAR and multispectral imagery. We further investigated relationships between urban form, architectural style, socio-economics, and the structure of front and backyard vegetation across Boston’s residential landscapes. 

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Cornell Opens New Sustainable Landscapes Trail

Students in Nina Bassuk and Peter Trowbridge’s Creating the Urban Eden class, planting the bioswale in the Peterson parking lot, the site of the recent Cornell Sustainable Landscapes Trail opening ceremony. Photo from Cornell Horticulture blog (https://blogs.cornell.edu/hort)

With excerpts from Cornell Chronicle and the CU Sustainable Landscapes Trail web page

On October 5th, 2018, Nina Bassuk led a tour of the new Sustainable Landscapes Trail on the Cornell campus after an opening ceremony in which, instead of ribbon-cutting, officials celebrated with a “downpour” of water onto the permeable asphalt of the Peterson parking lot, which is underlain by CU-Structural Soil and also features a large bioswale.

A number of the 20 sites along the Trail are associated with the Urban Horticulture Institute/Nina Bassuk, including chinkapin oaks (Quercus muehlenbergii) in CU Soil outside Stocking Hall, goldenrain trees (Koelreuteria paniculata) and silver lindens (Tilia tomentosa) in CU Soil outside Weill Hall, the Tower Road Bioswale, the Ag Quad Biodetention Basins, and the Mann Library Entrance SITES Accredited Garden. Many of these projects involved Nina Bassuk and Peter Trowbridge “Creating the Urban Eden” students in their implementation. For instance, the creation of the Rice Hall Bioswale involved students using the research-based “Scoop and Dump” technique described here

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