Forest management is an important topic in environmental science. We are lucky enough at Conserve School to have the opportunity not only to learn about, but also to practice stand management. This week during Applied Ecology class Conserve School students participated in a stand release by thinning sugar maple trees in a young, dense sugar maple stand. Trees were thinned so that the crowns were no longer touching. These efforts will help the remaining trees to grow more quickly and will speed up the regeneration of this forest. While I was taking pictures the students worked hard to remove stumps that had been left behind during thinning efforts of the previous class. Looking up at the newly thinned canopy I could definitely see the difference that Conserve School students were making to improve the regenerating forest.
No afternoon of tree cutting would be complete without some tree planting. Back at the LAB science teacher Andy Milbauer used a Bunsen burner to demonstrate how the serotinous cones of the fire adapted jack pine will open only after heat has been applied to them. There are only a few jack pines on campus, and after the cones had been subjected to enough heat to reveal the seeds within, students planted these seeds in Mandel field where the nutrient poor soil will make a good home for some new jack pine trees.
~ Graduate Fellow Heather Lumpkin