Students from the University of Kentucky Lewis Honors College recently traveled to Daniel Boone National Forest to help restore native forests on a surface mined site. The group partnered with Green Forests Work to plant 1,200 shortleaf pines.
The service-learning field trip was part of an honors course taught by Kenton Sena, “The Ecology of Middle-earth.” Sena said the project offered a great opportunity to connect class conversations about imagined landscapes in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” to real issues in real spaces.
Tolkien’s depictions of hyperindustrialism in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ present highly degraded landscapes — the once beautiful greenspace of Isengard is converted by Saruman’s military-industrial complex to a post-apocalyptic hellscape scarred with ‘pits and forges’ and cloaked in smoke. However, Tolkien highlights the potential for restoring and redeeming these landscapes. Treebeard and Samwise Gamgee both spearhead powerful efforts to restore degraded landscapes, and their work helps their ecosystems recover their former beauty and fruitfulness.”Kenton Sena, Lewis Honors College
By planting trees on a surface mined site in Appalachia, Sena said the class was able to contribute to the restoration of their own homes.