Nichole Hannahs

Planting for Polar Bears

by Nichole Hannahs on April 20, 2012 at 4:19 am

You may not be able to view Polar Bears at the Wilds in Cumberland, but a newly planted forest seeks to help this threatened species.

Years from now 4,000 seedlings planted over eight acres will be a forest, that will become a home to animals and will help Polar Bears thousands of miles away. Trees create oxygen which scientists believe may combat climate change.

"At the North Pole we’re seeing the Polar Bear territories decreasing," explained Ecologist Doctor Jenise Bauman. "Therefore, their population is in trouble as well. We like to teach, what can we do in Cumberland, Ohio, that may impact the global ecological system."

Not only will polar bears be helped, but the land being planted is reclaimed surface mine. Heavy equipment compacted the soil making it difficult to plant.

"Our goal is to find the best ways to establish trees and restore sites those kinds of things, using a technique called deep ripping. It actually helps to alleviate some of that compaction," said Ecologist Shana Byrd.

The hope is the results can be used to help landowners reclaim parts of their own properties. Over 100 students from Shenandoah Middle School along with Natural Resource students at Mid-East Career and Technology Center helped the staff from the Wilds.

"The kids at our school are big hands on learners. They like to be out doing things," said Instructor Brian Wilfong. "They really appreciate doing something like this and most of them care about the environment and want to give back."

Seven different types of trees were planted in the project including, Poplar, Maple and Oak, among others. The event was a joint venture by the Wilds and Polar Bear International.