Old Forest Teaches Rhodes Students Lessons of History

a stump of a large, old fallen tree in a forest

Urban Forestry Fellows at Rhodes have been studying the rings of large fallen trees in the Old Forest located across campus. According to the Overton Park Conservancy website, fallen trees’ stories continue even after they come down, of course, as they become habitat for birds and small mammals, enrich the soil, and give fungus an optimal place to grow.

The rings teach the student not only about the age of a tree, but about historical moments such as a weather event, of the change in the way humans interacted with the area. For example, “rings that are closer together (indicating slow growth) may indicate a drought period. Widely spaced rings in a tree’s early life may show that it was in an open, sunny location–possibly due to the loss of other large canopy trees–and therefore grew rapidly.”

Emily Cerrito ’16 (environmental science major) and Danielle Smith ’16 (environmental studies major) are the Urban Forestry Fellows who have been conducting studies in the Old Forest. Read more about their work here from an article featured on Overton Park Conservancy website. And click here to learn more about Professor Tara Massad's related research in the Old Forest.