iNaturalists of 1805
A few weeks ago in my post on iNaturalist.org, I mentioned how past observations, even seemingly benign ones, could one day prove to be valuable data. I had two examples. Thoreau’s meticulous notes on when flowers bloomed and old family photos revealing when trees leafed. Today an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Key to reviving Georgia’s chestnuts trees may lie in its past“, gives us another example– two hundred year old surveying data.
Nathan Klaus of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources noticed that when surveyors in 1805 documented landmarks of interest in the Georgia mountains, they included American Chestnut trees. Klaus is integrating the data from the old surveyor’s maps into GIS, painting a detailed picture of where American Chestnuts once thrived in Georgia.
So…What does it matter where American Chestnuts grew over 200 years ago? They’re all dead and blight-ridden now, right?
Well, remember that meticulous backcross breeding program of the American Chestnut Foundation? Their blight-resistant chestnuts are starting forest trials. Once those trees are proven, they’ll be ready to be reintroduced into Appalachian forests. Nathan Klaus will already know where in Georgia the chestnuts favored the most. He’ll know the best places to plant.
Thanks to old surveyors, the iNaturalists of 1805.