The North Carolina Forest Service is offering a 25% discount on tree seedling orders to military personnel throughout the month of November to honor their service.
The rebate will also help the NCFS Nursery and Tree Improvement Program, which has grown about 15 million seedlings per year, which can cover nearly 30,000 acres of land.
NCFS grows and distributes seedlings native to North Carolina and aims to create locally adapted wildlife to develop a diverse customer base.
Since 1986, the Forest Service has provided forest planning and planting assistance for Camp Butner, a base 15 miles north of Durham. Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg have also partnered with NCFS on their pine restoration project.
“We have these training bases across the state, and they need rural land around their bases, around their facilities, to train – for airplane flight paths and all that stuff.” said Jim Slye, the Nursery and Tree Improvement Program supervisor. “So it’s in everyone’s best interest to have these farms and forests operating. “
Slye said the “tree improvement” part of the nursery and tree improvement program involves selecting genetic traits that are favorable for reproduction, but the trees are not genetically modified.
“What do you want to plant? Slye said. “Do you want to plant the worst specimen you can find or do you want to plant the best specimen you can find? And that’s where tree improvement comes in.
Aaron Moody, who teaches in the geography department at UNC, said he believes people should prioritize building a diverse and healthy ecosystem when trying to figure out where to grow forests and determine which tree species to plant.
“I think planting trees is a good idea, but it has to be the right mix of trees and it has to be in the right places,” Moody said. “So not just where you can grow trees, but where trees are going to do the most good and not hurt.”
He noted that initiatives to create or revitalize the world’s forests with the aim of slowing climate change are well-intentioned and marketable, but such efforts can end up harming ecosystems if important factors, like age and the diversity of species, are not taken into account.
“We don’t want to replace healthy, complex and diverse ecosystems with largely lifeless monocultures,” Moody said. “So if reforestation means planting one type of tree over large areas, it could sequester carbon, but it wouldn’t replace natural forest ecosystems either.”
Building a sustainable forest sector in North Carolina requires stopping the elimination of healthy, functioning forest ecosystems, Moody said. He does not want reforestation to become a justification for logging elsewhere.
Through the program, Slye said NCFS hopes to grow genetically strong trees in large quantities for their few thousand clients to implement reforestation and afforestation.
North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said he was grateful for the service of active military personnel and veterans, many of whom are forest owners in the state.
“Providing this rebate is a way to honor their service and help North Carolina grow new forests and regrow forests after harvest, ensuring the long-term success of our vibrant forest industry,” said Troxler said.
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