Carrboro students are partnering with teachers and the community to take action and reforest their campus one tree at a time. AP Environmental Science teacher Stefan Klakovich has been working with Libby Thomas, Senior Research Associate at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, to accomplish this.
According to Thomas, the school’s builders cleared much of the original forest where CHS now stands.
“[I believe that] planting native trees will provide host food and nesting sites for birds,” said Thomas.
Not only do Klakovich and Thomas want to restore parts of the forest, but they want to increase biodiversity.
To do this, they are replacing patches of grass with native plants. “Grass is fine [depending on] where you use it, like I’ve said, but for the school no one ever uses it,” said Klakovich. “It’s got to be mowed at great expense. It provides nothing.”
The CHCCS district has been supportive of the project because replacing grass cuts mowing costs.
“The idea is to have three rows of trees. I think it’s thirty trees total. When we first plant them we’ll have them in strips,” said Klakovich.
In the past, there have been obstacles to landscaping the school, such as mowers running over young trees. The solution is to plant the trees in long rows. “[Then] the mower doesn’t have to change anything,” said Klakovich. “They’re just not going to mow that strip.”
Some details still need to be worked out, such as where the funding will come from, and who will take care of the trees. “All those things needed to be put together into a plan,” said Klakovich.
A few months ago, Thomas tried to address these issues in a plan that was approved by the district. According to Thomas, the funding would come from many sources, such as the PTA and the CHCCS district, but even with that help, the project is still short on funding.
The native trees will not require much upkeep, but the problem will be keep- ing the Bermuda grass out of the tree beds. “It’ll just cover the whole thing by coming over the edges,” said Klakovich. “That’s going to be a constant battle.”
Klakovich and Thomas hope to start a community service project where stu- dents will come bi-weekly to take care of the trees.
In order to explain her greater mission, Thomas relies on an Chinese proverb: The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago — the second best time is now.
However, she also has a message for students in particular. “We think you’re important and your environment is important, and if you don’t see it you won’t love it,” said Thomas.
By involving students Klakovich and Thomas hope to install a long term vision in the students and get them more active in their community.
Photo courtesy John Randall.