A newly planted riparian forest, stretching from the campus’ main entry points from Route 7 to the Cobleskill Creek, will transform the lawn into a thriving, wooded ecosystem. The planting is a Spring 2021 Ecological Restoration class project under Professor Andrew Gascho Landis, Ph.D. In all, 800 trees were planted, representing 22 different tree and shrub species.
The class studied the planting area’s landscape features and soil map to choose species suitable for various sections. Upland species are planted on the hill slope where soil conditions were drier; lowland species are concentrated along Cobleskill Creek. Students also considered the expected changes in climate and planted several species adapted to future conditions, including pin oak, redbud, pawpaw.
In preparation for the planting, students utilized willow stakes as fascines and brush mattresses to stabilize the creek’s bank. The project is in line with New York State’s commitment to assisting our agriculture community in improving environmental stewardship and waterway protection.
The class also prepared artistic interpretations to help communicate this critical work, demonstrating the importance of not only living values, but communicating them as well. A source of inspiration was the recent “Adequate Earth” exhibition, an event in which the Antarctic Artists and Writers Collective partnered with SUNY Cobleskill. The Collective works to inspire and educate others about scientific exploration through art and writing.
The forest is expected to provide canopy coverage to the area in about ten to 15 years. This project was made possible by a $5,000 gift from the Gerald and Elizabeth Jennings Foundation, used in purchasing the seedlings for the planting.
Ecological Restoration at SUNY Cobleskill introduces students to methods for restoring ecosystems common throughout North America and provides students with the tools and techniques necessary for planning, implementing, and evaluating restoration projects.
Photos by Samuel “Quill” Silverman and Joe McCarthy.