Henry Vilas Zoo hosts Earth Day celebration - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Henry Vilas Zoo hosts Earth Day celebration

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Henry Vilas Zoo held an Earth Day celebration on Saturday.

A number of activities were available that focused on the importance of biodiversity in Madison. The Wisconsin DNR provided tree seedlings that were given out for free for people to plant at home.

"Biodiversity is looking at the health of the ecosystem by the number of animals that are in it," says Erin Flynn, the zoo's Conservation Education Curator. "By planting the trees that we're handing out today, we're helping to conserve our local biodiversity."

Planting new trees is especially important in the wake of the invasion of the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive beetle recently found in Dane County that kills ash trees. The Wisconsin DNR was on hand at the zoo to teach people about the effects of the beetle.

"The main message we need to take away from the learning about the Emerald Ash Borer is that planting a diversity of trees is so important," says Elizabeth Dierickx, an urban forestry specialist with the DNR. "We like to encourage people to plant a tree because that will really help build a strong urban forest in the future."

Experts are concerned the beetle will destroy a large portion of Dane County's ash trees in the next few years. Certain insecticides can be used to protect ash trees, but the DNR says planting different species of trees is crucial to protecting the biodiversity of affected areas.

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