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Saving Our Forests: Don Rockwood BY: BLAKE GEARY

Dr. Don Rockwood is a former forestry professor and researcher at the University of Florida (UF). His research has primarily focused are on forest mensuration and genetics to help combat citrus greening and climate change. The projects that Dr. Rockwood has worked on have found potential solutions for citrus greening, which has saved thousands of citrus farms in Florida. Dr. Rockwood studied at the University of Illinois and North Carolina State University, he also worked with F & W Forestry Services before coming to UF.

Over the 40 years Dr. Rockwood has researched forest ecology, his main target was tree improvement of the Cypress, Eucalyptus, and Cotton Wood trees. The goal of his research was to find the most resilient strains of certain tree types. His research was used to create solutions to citrus freezing and is used by lumber and agribusinesses across Florida.

Dr. Rockwood’s work is seen all over UF’s campus and Gainesville. The Eucalyptus trees near the Baughman Center were placed there over 20 years ago, the Cotton Wood at the UF clone bank is held for posterity, and the Cypress trees have been at the Austin Cary Forest since 2002.

Citrus greening continues to be a large problem for many growers in Florida. Dr. Rockwood postulates that without a cure the entire citrus industry in Florida could be destroyed within 20 years. His research with the Eucalyptus tree as a fast-growing windbreaker has opened doors to knew possibilities to combat citrus greening.

“Fast-growing trees are the only viable way, in my opinion, to establish effective windbreaks as quickly as possible. The trees that we specialize in are the only ones that are going to do that, “ said .”

Rockwood would like people to be conscious that many of their favorite produces may soon become unavailable due to the affects of climate change. According to Dr. Rockwood the evidence shows that its happening, and its not slowing down. People need to be more attentive to the effects of their actions and how it could possibly hurt the environment.

This profile was created by Blake Geary, an Agriculture, Education, & Communications major at the University of Florida. More information about Blake and his works can be found below.