Georgia Ports Authority Commits to Protect Historic Oaks

By MarEx 2013-04-26 11:33:00

The Georgia Ports Authority announced today a commitment to put dozens of historic trees located on GPA property under protective governance, now and into the future.

“These massive oaks located on GPA property are awe inspiring and have been here long before we were,” said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz. “Today, on National Arbor Day, the Georgia Ports Authority is making an official commitment to protect and preserve these natural and historic assets.”

About a dozen trees that are more than 200 years old are located on GPA’s Garden City Terminal. Of those, the two oldest are both estimated to be more than 360 years old.

Local arborist Shannon Baughman said the GPA’s sustainability effort protecting trees – including an avenue of oaks estimated to be more than 125 years old – is notable for its scope.

“It’s impressive to see so many trees of this age in one area,” Baughman said. “The oldest here are more than 100 years older than the celebrated Chandler Oak located in downtown Savannah.”

The two oldest trees are located at the Garden City Terminal off of GA 25. The oldest is 92 inches in diameter and is estimated to have taken root in 1645. The second oldest is 91 inches in diameter, and is estimated to have taken root in 1649. Baughman estimated each tree’s age based on its diameter.

GPA, one of only a few commercial areas in Savannah that hosts a large stand of mature oaks, maintains the trees with regular pruning and has had lightning protection installed on the oldest trees.

"Mature live oaks are very important to Savannah and our history,” Baughman said. “Promoting their health through proper care is essential. Protecting the trees from lightning strikes is an additional step to prolonging their lives."

Four trees, one more than 250 years old, located at the new Container Operations Building were preserved during the building process and the building was even repositioned to provide optimal growing conditions for the trees.

“Our mission is to grow our business in environmentally responsible ways,” said Foltz. “Protecting the tree canopy around the fourth busiest container port in the nation is just one project we’ve undertaken as part of our sustainability initiative.”

GPA Board Chairman Robert Jepson noted that while the GPA has tripled its container traffic over the past 10 years, it has also cut in half its emissions per container moved.

“This phenomenal business growth calls for proactive environmental strategies, and the Georgia Ports Authority will remain at the forefront of sustainable practices in the maritime industry,” Jepson said.

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