Do Windbreaks Contribute to Eastern Redcedar Infestation of Grasslands?
Planting cedar in the Great Plains has increased cedar seed sources at an unprecedented scale and now contributes to cedar invasion. Originally, scientists assumed that cedar was not capable of naturally spreading from windbreaks due to the difficulty of establishing cedar windbreaks in grasslands. Because of this assumption, planting cedar became common practice to generate local benefits associated with wind protection. Now that we know this assumption is wrong, decisions to plant cedar should be evaluated based on windbreak benefits vs. invasion consequences.
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[00:00:04.220]Prairie systems and grasslands
[00:00:05.810]around the world are owed to fire.
[00:00:07.800]Now in this system we've done something in addition.
[00:00:10.200]Not only did we change how fire functions
[00:00:12.820]to control something like cedar,
[00:00:15.290]it's increased more rapidly because we introduced
[00:00:18.650]seed sources at an unprecedented scale.
[00:00:21.460]There was no way for a rare plant
[00:00:24.260]to produce this amount of seed
[00:00:26.900]without us introducing that seed
[00:00:28.730]to areas where it wasn't there before.
[00:00:31.130]If you look back historically,
[00:00:33.000]it was so difficult to get trees
[00:00:35.310]established in these grassland ecosystems.
[00:00:37.690]I mean they were such expansive,
[00:00:39.270]inhabitable regions for trees,
[00:00:42.090]and so people put in an extraordinary amount of effort
[00:00:45.100]of planting unsuccessfully, bringing in water.
[00:00:48.350]It was so hard to get established in the first place.
[00:00:50.790]It wasn't thought that they could end up being
[00:00:52.730]self-sustaining and propagating.
[00:00:55.590]So that's often talked about as an adventive species.
[00:00:59.480]An adventive species is one where we can establish it
[00:01:02.260]through a cultivated practice,
[00:01:03.930]but it doesn't spread and self-propagate on its own.
[00:01:07.180]A hundred years ago, that's what cedar was thought to be.
[00:01:10.000]So when we established windbreaks,
[00:01:12.070]you can put in this windbreak for a local benefit,
[00:01:14.350]and it won't have this spread and cost.
[00:01:16.420]Bessey in the late 1800s said that
[00:01:19.010]the only real negative of eastern redcedar
[00:01:22.710]was to apple rust.
[00:01:25.240]So you get these local benefits,
[00:01:27.870]and the only real negative is apple rust.
[00:01:29.900]So we can have this great benefit of a planted windbreak
[00:01:33.730]that will add and increase the well-being of this region.
[00:01:38.520]Well now, scientists over the last 60, 70 years
[00:01:41.730]have been showing that that assumption is not correct.
[00:01:44.850]If you only talk about local benefits,
[00:01:47.080]you're ignoring what's come at a cost,
[00:01:49.660]and that cost has changed since we started doing this
[00:01:52.390]in the late 1800s, early 1900s.
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