White oak trees that play a key role in the ecosystem and economy of Kentucky will see a significant decline soon without action to help the species regenerate.
That’s the takeaway from a recent report from an organization called the White Oak Initiative, which is aimed at bringing attention to the challenges facing the tree and recommending ways to counter the looming decline.
White oaks are a cornerstone species in forests of the eastern U.S., providing habitat and food for birds and animals and wood for a wide range of products such as flooring and cabinets. In Kentucky, that includes barrels for the signature bourbon industry. Bourbon has to be aged in new charred oak containers, which give it color and flavor.
All told white oaks play a role in billions of dollars of economic activity in Kentucky annually. The problem is that they are not regenerating at a sustainable level, according to the report.
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