ASEZ WAO Removes Invasive Trees in Long Island, NY

“They are so happy doing this!” was the chatter from locals around Edgewood Oak Brush Plain State Preserve on Long Island, NY. What was the joyful occasion? 53 ASEZ WAO volunteers came together on Sunday, April 28 to tackle an invasive tree species that had taken root on the island. By the end of the event, they removed nearly 70 invasive trees to restore the natural habitat.

The invasive plant species they removed is the autumn olive tree, notorious for destroying native plants through a process called allelopathy. Allelopathy occurs when plants release chemicals that inhibit the growth of nearby plants through roots, leaves, or the air. In turn, this disrupts the ecosystem, leading to loss of biodiversity and even impacting climate change, as explained by nature.org. John Wernet, the manager of the Oak Brush Plain State Preserve, stressed the importance of their mission during the opening gathering. He said, “The autumn olive tree was planted ages ago and has taken over Long Island!”

Clearing the Way for Mother’s Forest

Why was removing this invasive species so important to the volunteers? It all ties back to the ASEZ WAO global initiative called Mother’s Forest. Their goal extended beyond merely uprooting invasive plants; it shed light on the native species essential in combatting climate change and curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, this event aligned with New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s statewide tree planting initiative, to plant 25 million trees by 2033.

Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages also attended the event alongside the volunteers. She underscored the significance of this initiative, emphasizing, “They are really suffocating the actual native plants that are here, and it’s so important that we go in and remove the invasive species so that our native plants get to grow and flourish.” Solages finished with a touching thank you to all the ASEZ WAO volunteer group members, saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are a blessing to the community.”

After removing the invasive trees, what was once hidden is now revealed as beautiful cherry blossom trees that will grow freely and contribute to a healthier environment. Feeling inspired after the event, a volunteer expressed his overwhelming thanks saying, “My spirit feels better. I do not regret coming here at all!”

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