American white oak is a cornerstone species of the forests of the Eastern United States. Not only does it provide vital habitat and food for wildlife, it also plays an essential role in rural economies, and supports a wide variety of important and growing industries including furniture, flooring, cabinetry, barrels for spirits and wine, and more.
Currently, there are enough American white oak trees, but populations of young trees are significantly declining. White Oak challenges include:
- LACK OF FOREST MANAGEMENT leading to dense low-quality stands – blocking the growth of quality trees and the regeneration of new oak trees
- Widespread INSECTS AND DISEASE
- CHANGING CLIMATE conditions
Establish a “White Oak Initiative” to provide for the long term sustainability of white oak through the partnership of industries, agencies, government, associations, non-profits, and universities to support the sustainability of the species to ensure the economic, social and conservation benefits derived from white oak-dominated forests.
DENDRIFUND WOOD BOARD Co-LEADS:
WHITE OAK INITIATIVE
The White Oak Initiative came together in 2017 (organized by American Forest Foundation, University of Kentucky, and DendriFund) to build the foundation of support needed to make meaningful, long-term change for white oak forests. In 2018, the Initiative hired a Director and received initial support to conduct a white oak assessment and build a regional conservation plan. A public launch of the Initiative to recruit more partners, and engage community, business and government leaders is being planned.
Additionally, the Initiative plans to conduct:
- RESEARCH on health, population, age, diversity, harvest demand, economic and jobs impact, analysis of threats and white oak genetics
- TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE via tools for both public and private landowners that encourage the growth of white oak; train foresters, loggers and others in the forest industry
- ON THE GROUND IMPLEMENTATION including family forest owner outreach and support, and assistance to public forest managers
- COMMUNICATIONS to better explain the issues around the white oak species and who they affect
- POLICY solutions to support state and federal programs for white oak sustainability
The group is committed to long-term sustainability of white oak forests – and their economic, social and environmental benefits – for centuries, not just decades. To restore American white oak, we need to think, plan and act decades ahead to prevent a crisis. Today, we must actively manage our oak forests, remove competing tree species, treat insects and disease, and create openings for this sun-loving tree to flourish.
The White Oak Initiative includes universities, state and federal agencies, private landowners, conservation organizations, trade associations, and forest industries including wine/spirits, flooring, cooperage, and timber.
The White Oak Initiative is working with the US Forest Service and 17 state conservation agencies on two coordinated landscape-scale restoration (LSR) grants. These grants have brought significant private, federal and state resources together to collaboratively develop a white oak conservation assessment and plan for action. In addition to the plan, the LSR will support landowner surveys, oak regeneration demonstration sites, technical tools for foresters, regional workshops and state oak implementation projects.
2019 Steering Committee Members include:
- Alabama Forestry Commission
- American Forest Foundation
- American Forests
- Beam Suntory
- Central Kentucky Forest Management, Inc
- Cumberland Springs Land Company
- Forest Land Group
- Independent Stave Company
- Kentucky Forest Industries Association
- Missouri Department of Conservation
- National Wild Turkey Federation
- Sazerac Company
- Tennessee Forestry Association
- Tennessee Wildlife Resources
- University of Kentucky
- US Forest Service
- USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Services