A measure of hope for the hemlock forests?

out hemlocksA scientist fighting to save the dying hemlock forests of the Southern Appalachians will give a talk on ongoing efforts and challenges at 7 p.m. on July 26 at the Highlands Nature Center.

Dr. Ben Smith will share the strategies being deployed to save hemlocks, which are under attack from a deadly insect, and what do about the dying hemlock forests that now pepper the landscape. Smith works at the non-profit Alliance for Saving Threatened Forests that was formed in response to the hemlock woolly adelgid. Hemlocks are a key species in the forest ecosystem, creating cool, moist microhabitats under their dense, towering evergreen canopies.

The organization is identifying hemlocks that are genetically resistant to, or at least tolerant of, the adelgid infestation in hopes of propagating more hemlocks with the same resistant traits — with the long-term goal of restoring native hemlocks to their original ranges.

Smith will discuss the project and the challenges faced in a tree breeding program, and share his outlook for the future of hemlock resistance to adelgid.

The program is sponsored by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust and part of the Zahner Conservation Lecture Series.

www.highlandsbiological.org or call 828.526.2221.

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