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Our Program

Our Program

Biotic Inventory Permanent Plots in Gilvary 500-Year ForestWe are documenting the changes taking place in each 500-Year Forest through a biotic inventory every ten years. Forests are dynamic: sassafras in a sunny canopy gap may be overtaken by tulip poplar that is eventually replaced by shade-tolerant beech. For every inventory, we hire qualified professionals to tally the flora (trees, shrubs, woody vines, forbs, grasses, sedges, and ferns) found in marked permanent plots, and, in some inventories, we include forest fauna.  Since understory plants appear in different seasons, spring, summer and fall tallies are required. With the resulting information and input from owners, we develop a long-range plan and maintain a historical record for understanding each evolving old-growth forest.

We meet with the owner annually in late winter to develop a plan for the coming year that will concentrate on the control of non-native invasive plant species from Ailanthus and oriental bittersweet to rampantly spreading stilt grass (Microstegium) and allelopathic garlic mustard whose chemistry inhibits the growth of associated tree seedlings. To counter deer browse, we sometimes cage young trees, especially oaks, or fence off critical areas.  

Ailanthus Control in Sunshine 500-Year Forest

An essential element of the plan is our annual grant to each forest, often matched by the owner, to implement the plan’s goals. The Foundation decides on the amount to be made available, and although the owner hires and pays helpers, we reimburse the owner on a monthly basis.

While other organizations have old-growth forests in their portfolios, we are unique in creating future old-growth forests entirely in partnership with private landowners. Existing old-growth forests tend to be on nearly inaccessible sites too difficult to log. Our program will bring them back to thrive in areas easier to reach—ecological gems available for research and education, and, for the communities where they are located, sources of understanding and pride.