Get Growing Blog

Let’s Celebrate the Forest Today

March 21, 2024


It is the International Day of Forests, a day to celebrate local forests and this year’s theme is Forestry and Innovation. You might be surprised to find out that Holden Arboretum has its own part in assisting with forestry innovation. The time that we spend caring for the forests around the main gardens is matched by the time we spend researching how to improve those forests.

A portion of Holden’s research focuses on eastern hemlock trees resistance to pests, specifically hemlock woolly adelgid. The team is working on how to best propagate hemlock trees, including ways to encourage the trees to flower and seed faster, so that potentially resistant trees can be copied for resistance testing and entered into a breeding program. Propagation methods include copying trees via cuttings and air layering.

Cuttings are tips of branches that are trimmed off a tree and dipped in hormones that help it create roots. When kept in good conditions, like those above, most will root and be repotted for future research.
Air layering involves scraping off some bark on a branch and adding hormones to make it root before cutting it off the tree.

This research will help improve our ability to assess those eastern hemlock trees that stay healthy even under pest infestation. In the future our hope is to have the ability to breed pest resistant characteristics into eastern hemlock populations, preserving these valuable trees into the future.

The Community Ecology lab at Holden studies forest health, restoration, and best management practices. In Holden’s Working Woods Learning Forest, researchers explore how proper forest management and invasive species removal can improve forest health. Research findings will help define effective strategies for helping young forests recover following agriculture or other disturbances, and transform into more biodiverse, productive, and resilient forests. Beyond research, Working Woods serves as an educational outreach site where landowners and practitioners can come to learn the nitty-gritty of forest management and see what it looks like in real time.

Forest monitoring in the Working Woods Learning Forest

These research initiatives will support long-term survival of healthy native forests.

Holden Forests & Gardens also encourages you to celebrate trees with their People for Trees campaign, which asks the public to pledge to plant a tree (or more) while providing the information needed to guide you in that process all in one place online. In Ohio, April is the perfect time to plant a new tree because the weather is cooler and wetter, which gives the tree roots time to establish before nature indicates it’s time to bud out into leaves. Pledge today at:

Rachel Kappler

Rachel Kappler

Great Lakes Basin Forest Health Collaborative (GLB FHC) Coordinator

Rachel Kappler is the coordinator for partners of the Great Lakes Basin Forest Health Collaborative. She helps facilitate partners tree activities for pest-resistance breeding in current priority species, ash, American beech, and eastern hemlock. She also hosts workshops, webinars, and training for partners to help them achieve their forest health goals.

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