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The relocation of PA Route 52, which began in the summer of 2010, has taken years of planning, numerous environmental studies, and ongoing discussions among PennDOT, Longwood, municipal authorities, contractors, and nearby residents.
On October 25, 2011, construction of the new Route 52 north was completed and opened to the public—and if you live locally to Longwood Gardens, chances are you’ve driven down this newly opened road.
Along the new Route 52 you’ll already see that Longwood Gardens, along with partners Wells-Appel, Applied Ecological Services and Cotswold Gardens, has begun to replant trees as part of a larger reforestation project—with a goal of planting a total of 11,500 trees and shrubs and 30,000 native herbaceous plugs.
Land Stewardship Specialist Tom Brightman says Longwood’s plans for reforestation are as important as the actual highway construction.
“From the start we’ve had a goal for the natural forest to return. Throughout the Route 52 project we wanted to minimize the impact of the road both ecologically and aesthetically,” says Brightman.
Brightman explains by replanting a diverse mix of native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plugs, wildlife habitat and biodiversity generally increase, and the healthy functioning forest system improves air, water and soil quality, help ameliorate the impacts of climate change, and help buffer adjacent properties from visual and noise impacts from the new road.
An overview of the reforestation plan
If you take a close look, you’ll find that we’re planting relatively small trees (seedlings) because they have the proven ability to thrive better than larger trees.
“These seedlings tend to establish quicker and grow larger, faster. They also have higher rates of survival with less maintenance input,” says Brightman.
Longwood Gardens is planting a large number of tree species to increase biodiversity and are using species that are existing representatives of the natural forest ecosystem. Brightman says some examples of trees are from the oak and maple family, including: Acer rubrum, Acer saccharum, Quercus rubra and Quercus alba.
Additionally, Longwood Gardens is sourcing our trees locally to promote local vendors, minimize shipping costs and fuel use and using local seed sources.
Brightman says we are using a variety of species, sizes and spacing to allow for natural successional processes and to take advantage of micro-habitat conditions (e.g., soil type, moisture, slope aspect), and we are planting for ecological and aesthetic purposes.
When creating the reforestation plan Brightman says the Longwood design team kept the following goals in mind:
A long-term vision
Brightman advocates the importance of looking at reforestation as a long-term endeavor.
Brightman says, “There will be continued additional planting in the future to replace plants, add diversity, and to fill in additional areas. We also have a goal to blend the newly established forest with the existing adjacent woodlands to best decrease fragmentation. Long-term, we’re hoping the forest will change and evolve over time to follow successional patterns.”
Overall, Brightman says success in the next year means initial installation and establishment of plants and stabilization of soils.
Looking more long-term Brightman notes, “Success in the next five years means that most plants have produced significant new growth, there is presence of desirable insect and animal species using the new habitat, and that we have recruitment of tree and shrub seedlings through natural succession (like wind and animal dispersed seed for example), along with minimal and manageable intrusion by non-native, exotic species. And success in the next 50 to 100 years means this forest exhibits positive structural and biodiversity characteristics typical of forests at that age.”
For more information
Click here to read more about the Route 52 project: http://www.longwoodgardens.org/Route52Project.html
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Meet the arborists and gardeners that care for our trees and flowers throughout Spring Blooms, and see demonstrations throughout our Conservatory and outdoor gardens.
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Get ready for an evening of oohs and ahhs, as Longwood presents spectacular Fireworks & Fountains shows guaranteed to make your summer memorable.
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Registration is now open for our 2013 Continuing Education courses!
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