A new article on the USDA blog discusses the progress being made in restoring the American Chestunt to the eastern US landscape. This important species was virtually wiped out as a major forest canopy tree by the 1950s by a fungal infection introduced from China.
Human intervention is one thing. True sustainability is a much slower process.
Test plantings of blight resistant Chestnuts grown in intense breeding (hybridizing) programs are now being established. This is a very first step in a process that will take centuries to prove itself.
BTW, I have hundreds of the original American Chestnut sprouts on my 50 acres in Carroll County, MD, and have had some produce nuts. Yes I've eaten native american chestnuts roasted over an open fire :-)
But here are some cautions:
(1) a monoculture planting of one cross does not consitute natural genetic diversity.
(2) will these planted seedlings naturalize (seed offspring in the wild)?
Not until these plantings naturalize, and/or until a diversity of blight resistant hybrids are developed, will we be assured a wild, self sustaining population.
(3) Hybridization (I hybridize daylilies), particularly with intense selection for traits, notoriously introduces weak plants that may survive under culture, but can't compete in the wild.
(4) One final concern about naturalizing these is mentioned in the article--the problem of deer overpopulation. They ravage the understory through which seedlings must penetrate. Lack of wolves (root cause of deer overpopulation) is seriously damaging eastern forest ecosystems in general.
I've been following the progress of this important effort over the years, and it's good to see that they now have a result they can test in the field. But there's still a mighty long way to go.