Coast's Live Oak Trees Suffering - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/19/03

Coast's Live Oak Trees Suffering

Twenty five percent of the coast's live oak trees are not in good health and are declining. Experts examined approximately 3000 trees across the coast and presented some preliminary results Wednesday at the Urban Forestry Conference.

Doctor Ted Leininger from the USDA Forest Service checked out some live oaks in Gulfport Wednesday. Leininger is a research plant pathologist who is trying to figure out exactly what is causing the decline.

"There is a significant number of trees that we should be concerned about, now having said that we don't know exactly what's causing the problems," Leininger said.

Leininger said there can be a variety of reasons like drought, development, poor care, and biological factors, like disease.

The trees are called 'Live Oaks' because of their longevity. They typically grow in coastal regions. They're sort of like an evergreen trees because parts of the tree maintains its leaves year round. They are hurricane resistant trees, which reduce run off, and help with pollution

With such a high value to the community these oak trees are pretty important, and the experts say there's a lot you can do to help reverse the decline.

"I would say fertilization pruning, and some arborical-cultural practices, those need to be implemented right away, those are critical. It would be very interesting to see the long term investment in the community toward maintaining these treasures," Urban Forestry and Ecophysiology Professor at Southern University, Dr. Kamran Abhollahi said.

"I think people in any city, any urban environment, across America should be concerned about their trees. They're a tremendous resource. They provide, beauty, shade, they provide cooling," Leininger said.

By Nathan Mihelich

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