This November will mark the third-annual Newark Reforestation Day. What form Reforestation Day will take in 2020, or if it’s to be held this year at all remains to be seen. Regardless, this anniversary is notable because Newark is a rare community that celebrates an annual day to help increase and maintain its forests and trees.
Reforestation Day is the creation of the Newark Conservation Advisory Commission in cooperation with the Newark Parks and Recreation Department. It was determined by the CAC, and eventually by Newark City Council, that adding the annual event to the calendar each year would encourage more volunteers and donors to participate. Since Newark was designated as a Certified Community Wildlife Habitat in 2014, our reforestation efforts only serve to strengthen our reputation and resolve as an environmentally friendly town.
The first two years focused on the forest in Redd Park, where areas of new undergrowth and diversity are needed to maintain the health of the forest. An area was chosen by parks officials, and volunteers planted several hundred small trees and shrubs to enliven the area.
Reforestation has many environmental benefits. By planting native species that are beneficial for our environment, we make it more resilient to the effects of air pollution and water pollution. The increase in diversity helps maintain the environment and provide much needed habitat that has been lost.
Reforestation in areas near streams or in areas that have been degraded yields large benefits, especially for a town like Newark that has several streams running through it. Areas that have been reforested act as filters, removing excess nutrients and sediment from runoff leading to our streams. Because Newark uses the White Clay Creek as a source of drinking water, it only makes sense to protect and increase the benefits of buffer areas.
Other benefits from this type of project are ones such as the hands-on opportunities to educate the volunteers about reforestation. In the first two years of the project many volunteers have come from local schools and the University of Delaware. The volunteers have always been enthusiastic and have come away learning the importance of what they are working on. Many have never planted anything before and learn a great deal by doing and helping.
Volunteers also take pride, and more importantly, ownership of their community. By encouraging as many diverse volunteers as we can we build more sense of community.
Another part of the annual event is to give native tree saplings to volunteers to plant on their own property. They are given information on how to care for and plant a young sapling along with their tree. This portion of the program is designed to encourage the smart planting of more native trees in our neighborhoods around Newark. Urban reforestation, as this is known, has many environmental and community benefits as well. More beneficial native species are planted rather than trees which are non-native and in some cases invasive.
Future reforestation plans include areas near the Curtis Mill Park that could benefit from some additional buffers, as well as continuing work in Redd Park. For more information about Reforestation Day or how to volunteer, consult the City of Newark webpage.
The Conservation Advisory Commission was created in 1977 to advise the city of Newark in the development, management and protection of its natural resources, with appropriate consideration of Newark’s human and economic resources. It meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in council chambers. The public is invited to attend and provide input. Commission members provide this monthly column to inform area residents on conservation issues.