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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — If you’ve ever sipped Gatorade, eaten a Cadbury Crème Egg, put on a Band-Aid or used a Post-It note, you have a forest to thank.
These products are on a long list of items with ingredients derived from pine gum, the sticky substance that oozes from tapped pine trees, said Wayne Smith, emeritus professor with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
One hundred years ago, Florida was the world’s leading producer of pine gum, which was processed into turpentine and rosin, Smith said.
On April 1, the UF/IFAS Austin Cary Forest Campus will commemorate the turpentine industry’s impact on the state with the dedication of the A. Chester Skinner Jr. Family Turpentine Education Site. The site includes traditional and modern pine gum collection techniques, an antique turpentine still restored to historic accuracy, four educational kiosks, and ADA compliant paths connecting the site to the other buildings and trails on the campus.
The dedication will kick off the annual Spring Celebration for alumni and students of the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation. Dedication, ribbon-cutting and site tours are set for 10 a.m., followed by a barbeque lunch, and the School’s annual scholarship and awards ceremony.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Assistant professor Raelene Crandall walks her 18 students into Austin Cary Forest, part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, where they will set a fire. Crandall and the students stand out in their lemon yellow shirts, forest green pants, leather boots and gloves, and hard hats—all fireproof.
“Wildfire season is starting early this year, because we’re seeing a warmer, drier spring,” said Crandall, who teaches fire ecology in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation. “Experts predict an unusually bad wildfire season this year with the dry conditions and prescribed burns may help lower that number.”
The students check the plow line, which is used to contain a fire to a particular area and then start a fire along the edge. They stand back as plants begin to burn and the fire gradually progresses. “If we don’t conduct prescribed burns, we will get larger, often catastrophic fires that threaten families and structures,” Crandall explained.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — They are known as gloomy scales, and these insects can make a red maple tree’s life downright dreary. This is because the arthropods feed and thrive on them, especially in warm and dry urban landscapes, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher says.
Melanaspis tenebricosa, or gloomy scale insects, reproduce more, especially when the trees they live on are under the stress of heat and drought, according to new study led by UF/IFAS entomology assistant professor Adam Dale.
Dale’s new research is important as residents and urban landscapers decide when and where to plant red maple trees, which are native and widely distributed in North America from Florida to Canada and whose canopy helps cool urban areas.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – After a summer job working along the Oregon border in California for the U.S. Forest Service, Dave Lewis knew a career in forestry was his calling. With nearly 40 years of forestry experience, Lewis has continued to find the industry to be a rewarding profession.
Lewis will channel his passion for forest management into his new role as vice president of the national Society of American Foresters (SAF).
“Dave has a strong moral and professional character with outstanding leadership skills,” said SAF 2015 president Bob Alverts. “It was a well-informed choice to elect him. He has ideas to move this organization forward and grow it into one that is inclusive, benefits members and will continue to achieve objectives by having the resources with which to do so.”
Previously, Lewis served on the 2012-2014 SAF board of directors representing Florida, Georgia and Alabama. After his first year as SAF vice president, Lewis will serve for another two years on the board of directors as president and immediate past-president. Lewis said he is most looking forward to meeting and working with foresters from all over the country.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A few bugs may be able to chew up some cogongrass, a noxious weed that elbows out pasture grass, golf course greens and valuable ecosystems, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researcher says.
A worldwide research team led by UF/IFAS entomology professor James Cuda and retired entomology professor Bill Overholt found species in Japan, East Africa and Indonesia that might help in the battle against cogongrass.
Among the arthropods they found, Cuda and his team discovered a midge from Indonesia that attacks cogongrass. Cuda and his team are focusing on the Orseolia javanica midge that causes cogongrass to produce linear galls at the expense of leaves. However, when scientists brought the arthropods back to the quarantine facility at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce, Florida, they did not mate and increase in population.
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As Florida Arbor Day approaches on Jan. 20, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and research faculty are holding special commemorations and studying how to ensure trees help our environment and economy.
“Arbor Day is a great time for everyone to be reminded of the importance of trees and forests in their everyday lives and to contribute to the approximately 70 million trees that are planted each year in Florida for reforestation,” said Tim Martin, professor and co-interim director of the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation.
“Wood harvested from Florida’s forests is the largest agricultural commodity in the state,” Martin said. “But these forests provide much more than just paper and boards. Clean water and air, wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity are a just a few of the important benefits that forests provide for us all.”
In fact, UF/IFAS researchers have calculated that a typical acre of Florida forest provides more than $5,000 of services to the state’s residents each year, with just 7 percent of that value from timber, he said.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has hired esteemed educator and researcher Terrell “Red” Baker as the new director of the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation. He begins his new position on April 1.
Baker is currently the chair of the forestry department at the University of Kentucky and the James Graham Brown Endowed Professor of Forestry. He replaces Tim White, who has retired.
“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Baker, who has a rich background in Extension, research and teaching,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “Dr. Baker brings a wealth of knowledge that can only help UF’s program in forestry, fisheries and geomatics become even stronger.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It took a few years for Buzz Eaves to notice that tropical soda apple shrubs were overtaking his 1,200-acre cattle ranch near Fort Pierce, Florida. The prickly plant, with fruit the size of a golf ball and the color of unripen watermelon, was creating a barrier to the cattle’s grazing ground and displacing native plants.
“I was spending close to $6,000 a year on fertilizer and it wasn’t working that well,” Eaves said. “Then I heard about a program through the University of Florida that helps get rid of invasive species, so I turned to the school for help,” Eaves said. “It was the best thing I ever did.”
The UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences joined a dozen other organizations to form the Florida Invasive Species Partnership (FISP). The members work across boundaries to address invasive species challenges across the state, said Chris Demers, UF/IFAS Extension statewide program manager.
FISP began as a working group to address invasive species on state and federal land. The program expanded to include privately owned land, Demers said. “UF/IFAS Extension faculty provide various resources on invasive species, control and prevention,” he said. “We work across all species, plants, animals and fungus.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Global climate change has already impacted every aspect of life on Earth, from genes to entire ecosystems, according to a new study by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and in cooperation with a broad international partner group, published in the prestigious journal Science.
“We now have evidence that, with only a ~1 degree Celsius of warming globally, major impacts are already being felt in natural systems,” said study lead author Brett Scheffers, an assistant professor in the UF/IFAS department of wildlife, ecology and conservation. “Genes are changing, species’ physiology and physical features such as body size are changing, species are shifting their ranges and we see clear signs of entire ecosystems under stress, all in response to changes in climate on land and in the ocean.”
During this research, Scheffers, a conservation ecologist, collaborated with a team of researchers from 10 countries, spread across the globe. They discovered that more than 80 percent of ecological processes that form the foundation for healthy marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems already show signs of responses to climate change.
“Some people didn’t expect this level of change for decades,” said co-author James Watson, of the University of Queensland in Australia. “The impacts of climate change are being felt with no ecosystem on Earth being spared.“
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When veterinarian Bill Bennett first bought his 1,200 acres of land in Levy County, he wasn’t sure what he would do with it. “I didn’t know anything about working the land, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” he said.
Bennett heard about the Florida Forest Stewardship program—a collaboration of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and various state agencies—and decided to give organizers a call. Chris Demers, a UF/IFAS Extension program manager who oversees the university’s participation in the program, suggested that Bennett attend workshops to gain knowledge.
“I knew I loved pine trees, but I had absolutely no knowledge of how to go about building a pine tree plantation,” Bennett said. “Everything I know, I learned through the stewardship program or through other participants. It has been invaluable to my success as a landowner.”
The Florida Forest Stewardship program was created in 1990 by the U.S. Forest Service to encourage private landowners to manage their forest resources for multiple benefits, said Demers, who is with the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation. “UF/IFAS’ role is to coordinate educational programming and outreach,” he said.