Tuesday, June 23, 2009

OneTree project begins in Fairbanks

OneTree Coordinator Jan Dawe examines a birch tree in a Fairbanks area forest

A new community outreach and research project, OneTree, will launch in July. The UAF Forest Products Program is coordinating this collaborative project that explores art and science through a connection to a single birch tree.

OneTree is based on a project by the same name which got its start in 1998, when a single large oak was felled in the National Trust estate of Tatton Park in Cheshire, England. The OneTree project aims to show the unique value of woodlands by demonstrating the volume and quality of work that can be made from one tree. By focusing on a common goal—full utilization of a single tree—OneTree will unleash the breadth of creativity in its participants.

OneTree will travel each year to a different community in Alaska. This summer’s prototype is being developed in Fairbanks in cooperation with Week in the Woods, a family camp offered July 6-10 in the Tanana Valley State Forest.

Elders, students, wood turners, birch bark artists, biologists, loggers, millers, and community members interested in working in new ways with trees and each other are all invited to participate. Possibilities include making tar, weaving a birch bark basket, riving green wood, or documenting a tree for different types of studies. The activities will be happening this summer, all from one tree.

On July 6, OneTree and Week in the Woods participants will choose and harvest a birch tree near the campsite. After harvest, the tree will be divided into portions for three different groups, including Week in the Woods campers, OneTree artisans, and teachers who would like to pick up and store material for later use in the classroom.

“The sky’s the limit on what happens and it depends on who steps forward to participate,” said OneTree coordinator Jan Dawe, an adjunct forestry professor at UAF’s School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences. “Whether you’re intrigued by the biology of birch trees or wonder how climate shift may be affecting the forest, whether you want to follow an inspiration to paint or write a poem while sitting under a tree or around the campfire, whether you make museum-quality pieces or are just getting started on woodworking or birch bark projects, OneTree wants you.”

Regardless of age or experience in the woods, everyone is invited to become part of OneTree. Teachers are especially encouraged to join. If you’d like to do so by participating in Week in the Woods, register here. If you’d like to join OneTree, but not as a registrant in Week in the Woods, please e-mail Jan Dawe or call 388-1772.

The UAF Forest Products Program is run by Assistant Professor Valerie Barber at the Palmer Research and Extension Center.

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