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Honors Outside the Classroom: Tulane Naturally

Publication date

February 07, 2018 4:45 PM


Charlotte Maheu-Vail

Tulane student participates in "Tulane, Naturally" Society

Reid Belanger participates in "Tulane, Naturally" Society


The “Tulane, Naturally” Society in Wall Residence Hall recently visited the Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve to plant longleaf pine seedlings with the Nature Conservancy. Led by Professor Donata Henry, Senior Professor of Practice in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, this Society offers activities for students who love nature and the outdoors. Professor Henry describes her role and the importance of this work by Tulane students here:

I have been helping The Nature Conservancy (TNC) with this effort for ten years. Tulane volunteers have played a critical role in planting longleaf pine seedlings and sowing native plant seeds to restore the longleaf pine flatwoods and savannas that once dominated St. Tammany Parish. The longleaf pine system stretched across the southeastern US, covering over 90 million acres. Today, this endangered plant community covers less than 3.5 million acres, less than 4% of its original range with just a fraction of that remaining in Louisiana. The system is unique in being highly fire adapted and hosting levels of biodiversity comparable to tropical rainforests - including over 120 rare species such as endemic orchids, insectivorous and carnivorous plants, and threatened and endangered animals like the red-cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, and Louisiana pine snake. Longleaf pine is not a system that can come back on its own – it takes intensive management to restore and sustain the few tracts we have left. Tulane students have planted thousands of longleaf pine trees over the years – we are TNC’s most reliable volunteer group in this effort!

The Tulane, Naturally Society not only provides an opportunity for Honors students to learn about these endangered plant communities, but also to take the steps to support the return of the system.