- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
"The drought will be a major focus of the symposium," said Rick Standiford, UC Cooperative Extension forest management specialist based at UC Berkeley, and symposium coordinator. "We will also have cutting edge research and policy presentations on sudden oak death, gold-spotted oak borer and conifer encroachment in black and Garry oak woodlands, among much more."
California's oak woodlands cover 10 percent of the state, and oaks are a key ecological component of conifer forests. There are more than 20 species of native California oaks; several are found nowhere except within the state's borders and some others range only as far as Canada and Mexico. Oak woodlands are the most biologically diverse habitat in the state, making conservation a policy and management priority.
The symposium begins with tours of regional oaks on Nov. 3. One group will tour the Visalia urban oak forest; a second group visits the Kaweah Oaks Preserve and Dry Creek Preserve. Over three days, scientists will present 58 research papers on oak management, wildlife, ecosystem services, ranching and utilization, gold-spotted oak borer, oak restoration, and sudden oak death. Ten of the projects focus on oak conservation, touching on such topics as economic incentives for oak conservation, the oak conservation program at Tejon Ranch, and establishment of Oregon white oak and California black oak in northwestern California.
The wildlife series of presentations provides new information about native and introduced species that make their homes among the oaks, including European starlings, Pacific fishers, bats and wild pigs. Some of the ranching topics to be discussed include the public and private incomes from forests in Andalusia, Spain, economic incentives related to recreational use of private oak woodland, and acorn production and utilization in South Korea.
Since 1979, the California Oak Symposium has been held every 5 to 7 years; the last one was in Rohnert Park in 2006. Visalia was selected for the symposium because of its geographic convenience for both northern and southern California oak scientists, and the city's commitment to the preservation and protection of native oak trees.