Reintroducing American Chestnut on the Allegheny National Forest

How do you restore an iconic tree that has been gone for a century?
A short audio piece featuring interviews with Northern Research Station research ecologist Leila Pinchot and partners explains the research that involved students and teachers from Tidioute Community Charter School planting hybrid American chestnut seeds and seedlings on the Allegheny National Forest. This project is helping Pinchot and her colleagues better understand conditions necessary for reintroducing American chestnut and introducing students to hands-on experience in natural resource management.

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Research Issue

[photo:] Leila Pinchot measures chestnut tree.Mature American chestnut trees once dominated forests in the eastern United States but they were killed off by introduced fungal pathogens nearly a century ago. In forests now fragmented by urban development and altered by invasive species plants and insects, how can American chestnut be successfully planted back into the landscape?

Our Research

We are doing a 10-year study in the Allegheny National Forest to evaluate the effects of light availability and competing seedlings on the long-term survival and growth of 1400 hybrid American chestnuts. We are studying a three-stage shelterwood sequence that is already used to help oak trees grow in mature forests. Merging chestnut reintroduction with other forest management goals like oak restoration will help National Forests make the most of limited resources.

Expected Outcomes

The research will help us better understand:

  • how long planted chestnut seedlings can survive in low light conditions while still retaining the ability to respond quickly to increased light when other nearby trees are removed,
  • how well chestnuts compete with other vegetation in varying light levels, and
  • when it is best to plant chestnut seedlings during the 20-year shelterwood system sequence.

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

Research Partners

  • Last modified: March 4, 2019