By Jessie Dickson, Environmental Professional Resident

As we slowly approach fall, many may be walking The Arboretum admiring the transformation from a green oasis to a palette of deep reds and orange hues with pops of yellow–the ideal location to watch summer wave goodbye. You may notice when driving by our grounds or visiting the Red Barn Reserve that there are fields of blue plastic tubes. These tubes can also be seen sporadically throughout The Arboretum. To some this could be confusing and unsightly–why would an organization so focused on conservation use so much plastic? What is the plastic for?

These are commonly asked questions and the answer is reforestation! The Arboretum uses the blue tubes you see in the reforestation plots in order to protect young trees while they are starting to establish in the plots. These plastic tubes ensure the trees are not damaged by humans, animals or major weather events. Having this protection gives the trees a better chance at survival, which helps to give The Arboretum’s overall reforestation efforts a higher chance at success.

The idea of plastic tubing may still be confusing to some, personally, I questioned if the tube shielded the tree from the natural elements. Is there such a thing as too much protection? The answer is yes absolutely! Tree tubes are known for restricting growth of the tree trunk which can cause tilting or uprooting of the trees once the tube is removed. That is a concern that has been discussed and in response, The Arboretum has started testing the success of a plastic mesh tube instead of a fully contained plastic tube system. The reforestation project where this took place was largely led by previous Environmental Professional Resident, Aaron Ambrosio. These plastic mesh tubes allow for the tree to remain protected from wildlife while still allowing wind and other elements to pass through the mesh, thus hopefully helping to establish a plot of stronger, healthy trees.

When asked why he wanted to be involved in reforestation, Aaron discussed the overall need for a revitalization of forests across the world. “Every day you can turn on the news and see a new forest being destroyed. Forests are essential to humans, without forests we wouldn’t survive.” Aaron went on to compare forests to a human leg. “It would be pretty hard to move forward without legs, reforestation is putting a cast on the broken legs and helping to heal them so we can all move forward with a healthier earth.”

Next time you are enjoying The Arboretum and see one of the reforestation plots, take a moment to stop and appreciate all that is being done by individuals, not just at The Arboretum, but throughout the world to help bring back our forests!