By Michael

Every year on campus there are a variety of activities for Earth Week. In the past there have been concerts, local food promotion, educational films, biking events, fund-raisers, etc. This year Edgewood is stepping up the restoration of the ecosystem on campus, utilizing what has been learned in the environmental sciences and about the relationships in the natural world. Edgewood received a $22,398 DNR grant to plant almost 1,000 trees and shrubs in a variety of twenty species. This sounds like a lot, but here’s why…

Much of the woodlands around the Lake Wingra shore have been overrun by a European ornamental plant, buckthorn. Because of this and other invasive species, native plants and animals cannot thrive. The area used to have thousands of species of plants, but now that number is in the hundreds. Also, nearly 90% of the songbird population has vanished.

The trees students plant this Earth Week will one day replace the previous generation of trees on campus (some of the oaks are hundreds of years old by now). Also, the variety of native shrubs planted will insure that the wildlife in the area has a steady supply of food year round, because the plants bloom and fruit at different times of the year.

Without a scientific understanding of how ecosystems work, such an event could be shrugged off as “just a bunch of plants.” But being at an institution like Edgewood gives people the tools and knowledge necessary to make tangible changes and actually restore the natural beauty to a piece of our environment.