By Carola A. Haas
Professor, Wildlife Ecology, VA Tech College of Natural Resources and the Environment
One hundred years from now the most valuable asset on VA Tech’s campus will be Stadium Woods. As a living old-growth forest, these trees contain a legacy of history and diversity of immense value for teaching, research, and outreach. Permanently preserved and properly managed the woods will conserve soil fauna and structure undisturbed by logging or agriculture–a precious commodity with untold value for research and management related to forest productivity, agricultural productivity, and ecosystem restoration.
There are few opportunities in Virginia to study the soil fungi, insects, and nutrient processes from a time before soils were disturbed by European agriculture and deforestation. Stadium Woods, if properly preserved, will provide significant research and teaching opportunities for future decades and even centuries to come.
The university—a land grant institution– should ensure that Stadium Woods not only survives, but thrives. VA Tech should seek permanent legal protection of Stadium Woods through a conservation vehicle with an endowment for their proper management in perpetuity.
(excerpted from Preserve a living legacy, Roanoke Times, 9.15.13)