Restoring the environment
By william davis
On a cold Sunday morning in February, students from the University of North Carolina Wilmington donned warm clothes and traveled to a remote spot in Brunswick County to help return an ecosystem to its native state.
The students, as part of Roger Shew's campus sustainability class, planted more than a thousand longleaf pine saplings in the Ev-Henwood Nature Preserve. Shew, a lecturer in the Department of Environmental Science, undertook the project to help train the students in the methods and ideas of environmental restoration.
Located in rural Brunswick County, the Ev-Henwood Nature Preserve is a 174-acre tract donated to the university in 1991 by the family of Troy Henry. The Henry family had owned the land since the 18th century, using it for farming, logging and the production of naval stores.
"When the shipping industry took off in Wilmington, all the pine trees were used for tar," said Gil Rose, a senior for the class.
The logging exploded during World War II, with trees harvested in huge numbers to fuel the shipbuilding industry. It was during this period, according to Shew, that the native longleaf pines were overharvested and replaced with faster-growing loblolly pines.
"Historically, this area had quite a few longleaf pines, as denoted by the tar kiln," said Shew.
Before the project finishes, Shew said he plans to restore somewhere between five and 10 acres to their original state. Using tools donated by the Nature Conservancy, the students planted saplings across three acres of the preserve. Shew hopes the saplings, purchased from the N.C. Forest Service, will form the backbone of a restored longleaf pine forest.
The Ev-Henwood planting is one of several service activities undertaken by the students in the class. During the spring, Shew said students will grow herbs and vegetables in a campus sustainability garden. Last year, plants from the garden were used by Campus Dining for student meals.
"We hope to do even more that this year," said Shew.