As a concerned steward of forest trees in New York State, I am sure you are well aware of the threat posed by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer to our forest resources. We need your help conserving the genetic resources of New York State Ash species. NYS is home to three species of ash, all of which share the same fate. The time to act is short or we will face the full loss of yet another set of vital forest species, gone the way of the chestnut and the elm. Collecting and banking of ash seed now, before it is lost from the wild can go a long way to mitigate this loss. Spearheaded by the US Forest Service, just such an effort has been underway over the last nine years.
I am the Seed Collection Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank (MARSB), a cooperative conservation effort launched in 2012 by the New York City Department of Parks. MARSB is the mid-Atlantic coordinating instrument of the national Seeds of Success (SOS) program, the federal inter-agency seed banking partnership coordinated across the US with regional non-federal partners. SOS is organized to secure and wisely manage and use the native seed resources of the United States.
Over the next three years MARSB will be focusing its efforts on collecting seed from Fraxinus species throughout the State of New York. We have partnered with the USFS National Seed Lab, Northeastern State and Private Forestry Association the New York State DEC, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and a member of Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources to educate forest owners, managers and stewards on the need for ash seed preservation and the protocol for collecting ash seed. We have also pledged to make 150 seed collections over three years, following the exacting standards necessary in this effort. These collections, which strive to capture most of the genetic variability that exists in local-based plant populations, are stored with the National Seed Lab and will be made available to researchers, geneticists and breeders that are able to conduct research on controlling the Emerald Ash Borer and develop populations that are resistant to the insect. Additionally, a portion of seed will be stored for long term conservation with the National Plant Germplasm System, with the hope of someday restoring the species, with most or much of their variability, across their ranges.
In order to reach our goal we are asking you for help. Things you can do include:
If you would like to read more about MARSB you can visit www.marsb.org/seeds/fraxinus-ash and if you would like to learn more about the National Ash Conservation Program please visit http://www.nsl.fs.fed.us/geneticconservation_ash.html . Additionally, you can call or email me for further information or to discuss your interest in assisting this effort. We would be most appreciative of any form of assistance you can offer.