Articles (in reverse chronological order)

Ecosystem services of the forest

A past column discussed how various land uses can negatively impact streams. This column looks at why forests — managed and unmanaged — are important to maintaining a clean and dependable water supply. With concerns of rising population and increasing demand for dependable supplies of clean water in Macon County and in cities that rely on water from the mountains, the importance of forests will certainly only increase.

Land Use and Climate Change

We thought it would be useful to outline what kind of scientific research is performed through the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program. How population growth, changes in climate, and changes in the way that people use land affect ecosystem services are the main questions that guide research conducted through the Coweeta LTER. Ecosystem services are benefits that the environment provides naturally to humans such as clean drinking water, plants that can be used as medicines, crop pollination, or recreational enjoyment.

Decline of the Hemlock, Part 2

The last column discussed the decline of the hemlock and the implications for streams and aquatic wildlife. For anybody who missed it, hemlocks play a critical role in regulating stream flow and temperature, and maintain a unique and diverse assemblage of terrestrial and aquatic life. They are the only evergreen tree in the region that tends to grow in the areas around streams, and their loss will leave a hole in the forest ecosystem that will be difficult to fill with any other species.

Decline of the Hemlock, Part I

Most readers have probably noticed that hemlock trees in the southern Appalachians are losing their needles and dying due to the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). The hemlock woolly adelgid is a tiny but devastating insect that has spread throughout the area, decimating the hemlock population. These losses threaten not just the views, but the functioning of the forest ecosystem and water balance of the region.