By Eric Sprague, American Forests’ Vice President of Forest Restoration
White oaks are known as the “kings” of eastern forests for their huge stature, abundance, and provision of natural benefits like wildlife habitat. But the future of this important species is at risk. There is an almost complete absence of young white oaks in woodlands along the East Coast. Recent analysis by the White Oak Initiative shows that almost 90% of mature white oak acres in the east have no oak saplings present.
Young white oaks are rapidly declining for a variety of reasons, including the suppression of natural, low-intensity fires that open clearings where young oaks can thrive. The best way to ensure white oaks remain in future forests is through management actions like reforestation — which includes planting more oaks and creating openings to encourage natural oak regrowth. A new tool, the Reforestation Hub, can help land managers identify the best places to restore oaks and other types of trees.