- Explores and develops market-based solutions.
The American Chestnut Foundation's mission is to "restore the American chestnut tree to the forests of Eastern North America by breeding a blight resistant timber type tree." The American chestnut once comprised a quarter of the eastern hardwood forest from Maine to Georgia, providing a valuable economic resource. An accidentally imported chestnut blight decimated the trees, with devastating results to Appalachian communities and economies. Building an online database will accelerate the tree breeding program. TACF and RFF
received a grant from the Walker Foundation to build an online tree breeding database for restoration of the American chestnut. The grant demonstrates the potential for the application of biotechnology to restoring damaged economies and ecosystems.
Understanding TACF’s needs was crucial to the success of the project. Project orientation and review began with a day and a half meeting between the Resources First Foundation (RFF) and the breeding program coordinator for The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) and was followed up by additional consultations as the project developed. The majority of the time was spent familiarizing RFF project developer, with the many layers of activity associated with the tree breeding program. In order for RFF to design and build the online Chestnut Database, we had to become well acquainted with how the tool would be used by TACF staff and volunteer breeders. TACF explained how the tree farmers and growers structure their breeding programs, TACF’s organizational structure by chapters that oversee the breeding, and how this affects the data received. TACF provided RFF with a detailed walk through of the content entered into the database, program needs, requirements, and constraints. TACF and RFF also worked together to develop models for how the technology was to be implemented, to satisfy the array of program needs both in light of TACF's work managing the data, and the volunteer base entering the data.
The preliminary database model has been built improving upon the old database structure currently in use. The new model will enable TACF to manage the breeding program from the top TACF administration all the way down to individual trees and the specific growth observations that are made several times a year. The database was tested and refined with a fully populated current copy of all data. Data conversion and import logic has been completed and we are now working on finalizing the data dictionary of valid values and supporting data for all breeding, planting, growing and harvesting activities that are a part of the breeding program.
The user interface for the on line database will be guided by the hierarchical order of objects within the TACF universe that determines the organization of the database and access to its contents. The objects that are common to all object classes (such as people, security, and pollination data) will be referenced inside the hierarchical order where necessary.
Map of Breeding Orchards.
Building an online database will accelerate the rate at which information regarding the blight resistant chestnut and corresponding orchards may be exchanged. The American chestnut tree used to be a highly valuable economic resource in the Eastern forests of the U.S. in timber and nuts. The proposed project intends to assist in the restoration of the American chestnut, and promote its economic viability based on its rot resistant character and the fact that it does not require chemical treatment. In accordance with the Alex C. Walker foundation's mission, this project attempts to promote the future economic prosperity of the Eastern forest through ecological sustainability.
The fundamental premise of RFF's websites is empowering individuals and creating a community-based market to address environmental problems. By building the interactive database for TACF and linking and platforming their data and tree availability on our PLN site we position TACF nationwide in the marketplace for chestnut planting and restoration. Having already established the Private Landowner Network and thus a regular user base, and with a large number of TACF members being private landowners, the union of these two interests is a natural fit for this market sector. PLN is designed to connect private landowners to the services they need to reach for their conservation goals, including connecting to service providers, land trusts, tax and estate planners, and state and federal grant and cost share assistance programs. The proposed project will bring The American Chestnut Foundation into this market community. Resources First Foundation seeks to promote the engagement of the private landowner community as the best stewards of the land. This orientation promotes economic sustainability, especially in rural areas so dependent on their natural resources (agriculture, forestry, tourism, etc.) for their sustenance.
By building the TACF site for interactive use by orchardists, geneticists and tree conservators we will be creating an online community and network for chestnut restoration. RFF will communicate regularly with TACF staff and the A.C. Walker Foundation to ensure that all parties involved will be up-to-date on activities related to building this website. The results of the project will be reported via the Walker Foundation's website, and through the proposed website.
(Check sent: 12/21/2006)