|Wednesday, Dec 17, 2008|
On December 11th, representatives of the National Park Service, the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and the United Nations came together to plant five American chestnut trees on Governors Island, the first of 38 million trees expected to be planted over the next three years as part of a pledge by the OSMâs Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) to be part of the United Nations Environment Programâs (UNEP) âSeven Billion Treeâ campaign.
âFour hundred years ago Native Americans and Dutch settlers referred to this island as âNutâ island because of the large number of nut trees. There were so many that the Dutch set up a sawmill here, which produced timber for the first cabins in Manhattan,â said Linda Neal, superintendent of Governors Island National Monument. âThe trees planted here today will reflect a connection to the island's rich history while also symbolizing its future as an oasis for respite and renewal. So it is fitting that this park was chosen as the New York City venue for this tree planting campaign.â
The American chestnut once ranged from Maine to Georgia but a blight first observed in 1904 at New York Cityâs Bronx Zoo destroyed â in a scant 50 years â nearly 4 billion of the trees that helped form what is the largest deciduous forest in the world.
Dr. Brent Wahlquist, director of OSM said, âThe trees that are being planted under ARRI are high-value, native hardwoods, which includes the American chestnut thanks to The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF).â
Years of research and careful breeding by the TACF have led to blight-resistant saplings which cost about $10,000 each. The five saplings planted on Governors Island were donated for the event.
âGovernors Island is a wonderful place for us to be represented,â said Marshal Case, president and CEO of TACF. âSo much of what ARRI is doing revolves around creating a healthier planet and improving overall forest health. This planting fits right in with our goals and weâre proud to be in such illustrious company and Governors Island is a fitting destination for the return of the American chestnut to New York City.â