Behind the Scenes: Transplanting Trees at Kiawah River

Photo by Jason Stemple

For hundreds of years, Charleston’s sea islands have offered an abundance of natural scenery. From winding waterways brimming with speckled trout to – our personal favorite – acres upon acres of moss-cloaked oak trees, the region’s landscape provides the backdrop for a life centered on outdoor pursuits.

Located on one of Charleston’s sea islands, Kiawah River has long maintained its flourishing wildlife populations, none of which is more special perhaps than its resident tree population.

From cedar and holly, to spiky palmetto trees and towering pines, Kiawah River is blessed with a variety of new and mature trees. Home to South Carolina’s abundant wildlife, which includes more than 430 bird species, Kiawah River’s trees are a cornerstone of one of the most geographically stunning and biologically diverse habitats in the world.

While the community’s trees often look like they jumped right off a postcard, maintaining a healthy population requires a deep level of commitment and understanding.

Kiawah River’s Chief Environmental Officer Jeff Snyder provides his knowledge and dedication to the community’s tree management program – a large part of which consists of transplanting the property’s trees.

“My role at Kiawah River is to look at the land with the future in mind from a conservation perspective,” said Snyder. “Transplanting our community’s trees plays one of the most significant roles in Kiawah River’s continued commitment to sustainability.”

Not only does transplanting trees keep the natural environment healthy and beautiful, but it’s also an important measure taken to protect the trees and the species that rely on them.

For nearly 20 years, Snyder and his team have been carefully moving trees with specialized equipment to create new generations of native species. Since 2001, they have relocated more than 100 trees ranging from magnolias and pine trees to live oaks (some of which have measured 21 inches in diameter).

“If you want the area around you to stay breathtakingly beautiful, you need a healthy environment to foster the plants and animals that live there,” Snyder says. “By relocating and preserving these species, we essentially create our own nurseries of trees that will be enjoyed at Kiawah River for generations.”

Photo by Jason Stemple