Note From a Virginia Ecologist

These forests are not only economically important to me; I depend on them for my own peace of mind…
Sunrise at Zuni Pine Barrens

As an ecology PhD student at Old Dominion University, I depend heavily on field work for scientific research that will push me towards the completion of my degree. Without these forests, it would be  impossible to complete not only my ecology degree, but any ecologist’s research. Every day I learn about new species and organism behaviors within the Virginian forests that surround our cities. To lose these precious habitats would be morally and scientifically criminal.

These forests are not only economically important to me; I depend on them for my own peace of mind.

Spending a weekend, a day, or even a few hours in a Virginian forest allows me to get away from the chaos of city life and relax with nature. The forests of Virginia are currently quiet, calm and pristine – perfect areas for a pause from the hustle and bustle of normal life.

The Blackwater Ecologic Preserve in Isle of Wight County holds carnivorous plants, unique orchids, and the northernmost stand of naturally reproducing long-leaf pine in the United States.

This preserve and similar tracts of forest in Central and Eastern Virginia are also home to fungus-growing ants, large populations of deer, and rare species of spiders. Other nearby wetlands in eastern North Carolina contain the Venus Flytrap, a species that occurs naturally nowhere else in the world.

It would be a horrible event if these forests disappeared due to our negligence. It would be even worse if these forests disappeared due to a corporation’s greed; unfortunately, this is exactly what is occurring. Fast food corporations are using large tracts of land just like the Blackwater Ecologic Preserve to make their cups, containers, and wrappers to hold their food. A small amount of public support would push these companies to accept more environmentally-friendly practices that allow for forests and fast food to coexist.

Marc A. Milne
Ecological Sciences PhD Candidate
President, Biology Graduate Student Organization
Vice-President, ODU Graduate Student Organization
Department of Biological Sciences
110 Mills Godwin Life Sciences Building
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, VA 23529

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