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“Left-Alone Places”—the Old-Growth Forest Network and the preservation of trees

Białowieża Forest in Poland by Jacek Karczmark

"I propose our gift to the future be a network of old-growth (or future old-growth) forests across the Country."

Joan Maloof is an ecologist, based in Maryland, an author, and an advocate for protecting old-growth forests—not just large acreages but relatively small portions of old-growth forest that still stand in close proximity to cities or that can be found in suburbs. The organization she founded—the Old Growth Forest Network—seeks to protect both existing and future old-growth forests in the United States as a gift to future generations. The expanding network recognizes both the cultural and ecological roles that such forests play in our society. Efforts like hers are part of a growing trend in historic preservation that recognizes the importance of natural landscapes in a modern world alongside sites that are important for their historic architecture or their archaeological remains.

Below the link is some additional on recent activities and policy decisions regarding various populations of urban trees, heritage trees, and old-growth forests across the globe.


An ecologist speaks for the silent giants: Old growth trees

By Adrian Higgins, The Washington Post, October 24, 2017

Protecting urban canopies in the United States

In 2001, an organization known as Casey Trees was founded in Washington, DC to protect and increase the urban tree canopy in the city. The philanthropic gift that funded this organization followed a report by American Forests that documented the dramatic reduction in tree cover in DC since the 1970s. Since then, Casey Trees has had tremendous success, increasing Washington’s tree canopy dramatically through a partnership with the city’s urban forestry program and numerous community organizations and volunteers.

In 2011, the city of San Francisco government transferred responsibility for trees on public property to private citizens, in a highly unpopular move that led to the ultimate destruction of some notable city trees. Now, the city has reversed course and has taken back responsibility for its trees.

Heritage trees

Many societies recognize specific tree specimens as iconic representations in nature of their own socio-cultural history. Numerous trees in cities and towns across the US, for example, are known as “liberty trees” which, because of their age, were standing during important points of American history. Singapore developed a “Heritage Tree Scheme” in 2001 to protect their heritage trees, and other countries have followed with similar programs. This researcher has compiled a list of such efforts around the world.

Singapore developed a “Heritage Tree Scheme” in 2001 to protect their heritage trees, and other countries have followed with similar programs.

Old-growth forests—Poland, Australia, and the United Kingdom

The World Heritage Committee annually compiles a list of World Heritage Sites in Danger from either human or natural action. But this case—the Białowieża Forest in Poland—has the Polish government’s environmental minister requesting de-listing of this important forest in order to continue logging, which environmental activists claim is in violation of the management procedures for natural sites listed on the World Heritage List. (The photo of the Białowieża Forest by Jacek Karczmark is shared here under CC BY-SA 3.0).

In Australia, Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) is seeking to prevent logging of old-growth forests in Australia by claiming in court the forests already have legal protective status.

And new research in England has identified a group of previously unknown oak trees that are as much as 1,000 years old, giving England a larger collection of ancient oak trees than the entire continent of Europe.

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