New Research Forest Coming to the Arboretum

What is Maine famous for? Lobsters, of course. When people from all over the country, even the world, think of Maine, they are reminded of the delicacy that is the Maine Lobster. But of even greater importance are the trees that dot the landscape of Maine. Maine’s natural, rugged beauty is enhanced by the “sea of green” that covers this great state. First time visitors, and long time residents of this beautiful state are constantly in awe of the sheer number of trees that populate the landscape. 

 

Maine is known as the Pine Tree State, and with good reason. Ninety percent of the state is covered by forests, which translates to roughly 17,660 acres of forested land. There are over 55 species of trees in the state of Maine, ranging from white pine, to spruce and fir, and even the odd, occasional weeping willow. All of it, beautiful. 

The importance of the Maine Woods cannot be overstated. The benefits of our forests are numerous; they reduce air pollution and give us the oxygen that we need to breathe. They add beauty and improve personal health. They fight the atmospheric greenhouse effect; in layman’s terms, they help reduce global warming. Trees conserve water and reduce soil erosion. They save energy. They increase economic stability. They provide shelter and a safe haven for all the living organisms living around them. The list goes on and on, one can safely say that we need our forests and that we depend on them for our very survival. 

However, trees in Maine are facing a crisis. Maine forests are at risk of losing a substantial amount of tree cover, along with “vital ecosystem balance, biodiversity and economic resources”. A large number of species in our forests are in danger of significant decline or disappearance due to the growing number of invasive insect pests and diseases. Not only that, but the gradual changes to our climate is more than likely to radically alter the balance of which trees can thrive here. 

The potential for such significant loss makes it necessary to explore intensive efforts to learn how we might proactively manage forests and trees to prevent considerable decline to our ecosystem, and to also prevent huge economic loss to the Maine Woods.

On June 11th, 2022, from 10:00am to 12:00pm, Viles Arboretum, in partnership with Waldo County Soil and Water District, will start the first steps in planting a new research forest, which will be composed of 14 different tree species. This new forest will be dedicated to climate research. The volunteer event, Invasive Management at New Research Site, will kick off at the new Forests of the Future research site with a talk by Aleta McKeage from Waldo County Soil and Water District. This incredibly important event is the start of a years-long project that will be the core of the new research focus at the Viles Arboretum. 14 new, potentially suitable species of trees will be planted and studied here in the coming years. The trees selected will be those offering multiple potential benefits that will help improve the ecosystem as the climate changes here in Maine. 

The planting will provide long term research opportunities for the Viles community and university researchers. The potential benefits of this project cannot and will not be overstated. The effort put forth by the Viles Arboretum to stop the spread of disease, to fight off the invasive insect pests threatening our trees livelihood, and to preserve our very way of life; it cannot be stressed just how important this research is and will be. 

Join us as we take a huge, important step in the right direction towards maintaining a functioning ecosystem through the process of “climate adaptation”. By introducing species of trees not traditionally native to Maine, we are hoping these new trees thrive in the current climate; to keep our ecosystem safe for generations to come; and last but not least, to maintain the very beauty that is the great state of Maine and its forests.