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Appalachian forests are among the most diverse and valuable forests in the world.

Approximately one million acres of Appalachian forests have been removed by surface mining.

The forests are replaced with primarily non-native and invasive vegetation, providing far fewer ecosystem services and jeopardizing the surrounding forests' health.

Even after several decades following mining, there is still no sign that these grasslands will become a forest on their own anytime soon.

GFW is jump-starting natural succession and getting these sites on a trajectory to becoming a forest again.

After only 14 years following reforestation, these sites are already starting to look like a forest.


Involving the local communities with the tree plantings gives volunteers the satisfaction of helping to restore the rich natural heritage of their area, as well as physical exercise and a sense of community. Volunteers are also educated on why reforestation is needed at the project site and how the newly created forest will benefit them.



Reforestation Benefits

Reforestation makes the land more hospitable to wildlife by providing food and shelter and creating better connectivity to other forested areas. For example, golden-winged warblers and other songbirds will benefit from early successional forest cover and the reduction in forest fragmentation. The endangered Indiana bat and forest interior dependent species will find new habitat as the forest matures. Pollinators also benefit  from flowering trees and plants used in our projects. 


By mitigating soil compaction, the ground allows for greater water infiltration and storage, which reduces surface runoff which transports sediment. Trees also uptake and intercept precipitation, further reducing inputs to streams and the trees can uptake metals and minerals that pose water quality concerns. 


Employment is generated for local, professional tree planters, equipment operators, and nurseries, and a renewable, sustainable, multi-use resource base is established for the future.

We plant a diverse mix of native hardwoods and shrubs that are less likely to establish on their own. We're also helping to restore imperiled species and declining forest types, such as shortleaf pine and red spruce.
By increasing the tree density from less than 10 trees/acre to several hundred trees/acre, more carbon can be sequestered by the growing forest. The loosened soil also allows the trees to grow more vigorously, which increases the rate of carbon accumulation in plant tissues and the soil.   
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