FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 1, 2010
HISTORIC SEEDLING TO BECOME STATE’S OFFICIAL 5 BILLIONTH PLANTED TREE
(Columbia, SC)- Leaders from forest industry and government will gather at the SC Statehouse on Arbor Day, December 3, to plant South Carolina’s 5 billionth tree. This milestone in the history of our state’s leading manufacturing industry calls for celebration. Forest-related businesses impact the state’s economy by $17 billion dollars every year, according to the latest available data.
The seedling is to be planted in a specially-designated spot off the SW corner of the Statehouse. It will serve for decades to come as a living monument to our state’s forest resource, as well as the industry and SC families it sustains. The planting is scheduled for 1:00 pm following a few words from State Forester Gene Kodama, Bob Scott with the SC Forestry Association, Secretary of Commerce Joe Taylor, and Dr. Steve McKeand, a leading forest geneticist.
The 5 billionth tree is the result of extensive tree breeding research and was donated for the purpose of today’s planting.
“It is a descendant of an all-American tree named ‘7-56,’ which was discovered in Williamsburg County, SC in 1957,” said Steve McKeand, Director of the NC State University Cooperative Tree Improvement Program.
Professor McKeand says the seedling is a variety of loblolly pine known for producing wood of resilience, volume, and strength. Progeny from 7-56 are the most widely planted forest trees anywhere in the world.
How do you know which is actually the 5 billionth tree?
The SC Forestry Commission has surveyed forest tree seedling providers annually since 1928. Around 50 million seedlings have been planted annually in South Carolina in recent years. The largest nursery providers for South Carolina landowners are participating with the planting of the 5 billionth tree. Representatives from ArborGen, Cellfor, the SC Forestry Commission, and Weyerhaeuser will be available for media interviews.
State Forester Gene Kodama sees the Arbor Day planting as the perfect opportunity to highlight the on-going 2015 initiative. 20/15’s aim is to grow forestry’s impact on the SC economy to $20 billion annually by the year 2015.
“It’s a realistic goal when you consider the role forestry already plays as the number-one manufacturing sector of the state’s economy. Our state’s forest resource is robust, the business climate is good, and we’re growing a renewable resource in this state at record levels. Our wall of wood has forest industry poised to grow in the coming years,” Kodama says.
The loblolly seedling to be planted Friday joins the many ornamental shrubs and trees on the beautiful Statehouse grounds. But unlike them, the 5 billionth seedling’s value is not limited to its aesthetic appeal. There are jobs and livelihoods in its roots. And it will be the only southern pine on Statehouse grounds.
“People give value to trees, whether it’s social, economic or environmental. As we celebrate the planting of the 5 billionth tree we remember the many benefits forests provide which ultimately improve the quality of life for all citizens of South Carolina,” the Forestry Association’s Bob Scott added.
Who: Forest industry, SC Forestry Commission, state officials
What: Planting of the state’s 5 billionth forest seedling
When: Arbor Day, Dec. 3, 2010 at 1:00pm
Where: Near the SW corner of the Statehouse
Why: To recognize the impact of forestry on South Carolina’s economy, its landscape, and its citizens’ quality of life
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CALL SCOTT HAWKINS @ 803-360-2231
The SC Forestry Commission’s mission is to protect and develop South Carolina’s forest resource
For every $1.00 invested by SC in the Commission, the industry produces more than $1,800.00 of economic impact.