UTK Stop Clear Cutting Trees
UTK Stop Clear Cutting Trees
We ask that you take a stand with us against the clear-cutting done by the UT Agriculture Institute. This past year, a mission to clear-cut 92 acres of timberland began. This mission was completed in December 2019 and carried out on a UT property in Walland, Tennessee (the UT Dairy farm). The effects of such actions on local communities and ecosystems calls on the University of Tennessee to take a look at the destructive choices being made and confront whether they reflect the best interests of the University and community as a whole. Our stance is that the action of the University of Tennessee does not reflect the best interests of the community and the environment and we urge for this to not happen again.
Neighbors have spoken to the media expressing concern about the intrusive manner with which this was done, stating that they had no heads up on the process. Clear-cutting of this 92 acre stretch was done right up to property lines of citizens, according to WATE channel 6. Neighbors are concerned with erosion, property values, and overall ecosystem health. They have already reported changes in the area such as wild pigs around the neighborhood.
From an ecological perspective, clear-cutting has far-reaching effects on forest ecosystems. First, it is linked with increases in erosion. UT Professor of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, Wayne K. Clatterbuck, admitted that the work has already caused erosion in the area. Erosion increases run-off, water contamination, and flooding while decreasing soil quality. Second, trees are powerful in sequestering carbon thus helpful in reducing greenhouse gases. We estimate the amount of carbon sequestered from a 92 acre plot of forested land would be roughly 1400 tons of CO2 annually. By removing these trees there is a significant and long term deficit in ability to absorb carbon from the local atmosphere. Thirdly, clear-cutting is a primary form of habitat destruction which maximizes edge effects and displaces native species. Given our close proximity to the wealth of wildlife and hotspots located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this action is of even higher concern. As students and a campus striving for decreased environmental impacts and in support of sustainable initiatives, this action by the Research institution and UTIA is in direct contrast to the long term environmental interests we share.
With the community and ecological concerns caused by the clear-cutting done by the UT Institute of Agriculture Institute, we demand action. As a “Tree Campus,” designated by National Arbor Day Foundation, we have a duty to make ethically and ecologically sound decisions with our campus trees. Clear-cutting land does not align with the goals of the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture yet there has already been a $180,000 profit on the timber from this clearing. We have every reason to believe this project was conducted and approved primarily for the financial gain without factoring in the high environmental costs extending for years to come. We seek to use this petition to state that the Agriculture Campus is to abide by the same standards of the main UT Campus and demand greater transparency on behalf of the communities affected and the unrepresented student and faculty members of the University of Tennessee. By signing this petition, you are standing with UT students and the Knoxville community to demand stricter policy surrounding tree preservation and oversight.