Live Oaks in Tallahassee Part 2|The Urban Forest


In an urban forest, trees are valued for what they contribute to a community. The southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) is a tree that provides shades, habitat for almost 1,000 different plants and animals, and is storm resilient.

A Walk in the Woods

As we wrap shooting video of the Lichgate Oak, Stan Rosenthal asks if we want to see live oaks growing in a natural, forested setting. And so this story of the urban forest finds us bushwhacking in the wild woods.

He takes us to a property where he, as a forester, conducts controlled burns. Going off trail in a longleaf pine ecosystem, we find the kinds of ground cover plants that benefit from regular burning. He points out a flowering short winged sumac shrub not too far from whorled milkweed. There are oaks growing between the pines as well; here, fire stunts their growth and opens up the canopy overhead, making space for a high diversity of grasses, flowers, and succulent plants. When burned every 2-3 years, such a forest is, as the old saying goes, wide enough for a horse and wagon to ride through for miles uninterrupted.

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Rob Diaz de Villegas is a senior producer for television at WFSU Public Media, covering outdoors and ecology. After years of producing the music program OutLoud, Rob found himself in a salt marsh with a camera, and found a new professional calling as well. That project, the National Science Foundation funded "In the Grass, On the Reef," spawned the award-winning WFSU Ecology Blog. Now in its tenth year, the Ecology Blog recently wrapped its most ambitious endeavor, the EcoCitizen Project.

Rob is married with two young sons, who make a pretty fantastic adventure squad.