Blog: Wetlands are Ecosystem Treasures

 

Blog: Wetlands:
When I moved into my first home many years ago, I wanted to get involved in the town. Someone, I don’t remember who mentioned that the town had an environmental committee. Intrigued, I wondered what the town envisioned for itself environmentally.  I had an interest in recycling, practical ecological applications to preserve water, land and air.

It was no coincidence that around the same time, I subscribed to a magazine titled: Garbage. (Need I say more?) This magazine sought to discuss the latest trends in gathering garbage, storing trash, and how to dispose of the leftovers that could contain toxic materials.

One article, in particular, caught my attention and I remember the broad outlines of the story today which as you will see is pertinent to today’s discussion on wetlands.

A town in California needed a new water treatment plan maybe a sewage treatment plant. The estimate for a new facility was around $52 million dollars, costly for any town at that time., mid-1980’s. So, other options were investigated.

For significantly less money, between $2-5 million, folks realized that the landscape of the town and the surrounding area contained miles of marshland. They could develop a waterway system that kept the wetlands intact and at the same time collect purified water at the end of the line. Somehow, folks back then had the vision to realize that at least seven miles of marshland can filter and recharge water. My podcast guest this week, Gail Reynolds, reminded me of this story as I thought about the different types of wetlands and the ecosystem services they provide.

Basically, wetlands catch water from the surrounding areas, usually runoff from lawns and agricultural land uses. They capture nitrogen, phosphorus, pesticides to name a few. These components deposit into the sediment at the bottom of the wetland. Then plants can absorb these elements and convert them into plant matter. When this happens in the summertime, wetlands prevent contamination downstream.

“Wetlands are superb at purifying polluted water, replenishing aquifers and harbouring wildlife. But they are almost always terrible places to build houses. Only about 5 percent of the land area in the continental United States is composed of wetlands. But these transitional zones—neither completely dry nor entirely liquid—are enormously valuable, especially when it comes to controlling floods. Wetlands act like natural sponges on the landscape, absorbing and then gradually releasing storm waters and lessening flood damage.” John Mossbarger, La Jolla CA, in Scientific American also adds this: “Wetlands serve as primary habitat for thousands of wildlife species—from ducks to beavers to insects—and form an important ecosystem link between land and water. They also play a key role in maintaining water quality, as they filter out agricultural nutrients and absorb sediments so that municipal water supplies don’t have to. On and near shorelines, wetlands provide a natural buffer against storm surges and rising floodwaters, helping to disperse and absorb excess water before it can damage life and property.”

It’s estimated we have destroyed about 85% of our wetlands in this country. Wetlands: habitat for plants, animals, insects, offer water filtration and purification services, perfectly set up to manage flood areas. They provide invaluable ecosystem services and are precious.

The good news is that we are taking some measures to preserve what we have and what’s left.
What can you do? If you have wet areas on the property, learn how to manage them that preserves them. And, I just learned that there is World Wetland Day. This year its Feb 2nd. They have a great interactive website and educational materials available for you to use to promote awareness in your community. 

When out on hikes or walking in your neighbourhoods, keep an eye out for marshy areas. Keep in mind how limited they are today and how precious their ecosystems are in today’s landscapes.

Enjoy. Judith

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Gail Reynolds, Plant Science Expert

Description: Gail is a plant scientist who loves bogs. Bogs are often austere landscapes, acidic, filled with peat moss and other mosses, not usually treed. She takes us through a not so well known landscape filled with levels of plant life and why they are invaluable. Join us for a fascinating journey into bogs where Gail highlights some plants that could be used in the wet areas on your property. At the very least, Gail opens our eyes to the variety of species that are found here, ones we can look for on future hikes.

About My Guest: Gail Kalison Reynolds, Middlesex County UConn Master Gardener coordinator, retired from 
a long career as an Information Security professional. She holds a B.S. in biology from Yale College and a Master of Forest Science degree from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In addition, she holds five information security certifications. Gail is a long-time natural resource and Yale alumni volunteer, including Chair of the Haddam Conservation Commission, Officer of the Haddam Land Trust, member of the Lower Connecticut Land Trust Exchange, Haddam Plan of Conservation and Development committee member, Salmon Rivercommittee member, Connecticut Botanical Society board member, Executive Board member of the Yale Science and Engineering Association, Yale student mentor, and Yale alumni interviewer of prospective undergraduate students.
Gail is currently the State Coordinator for the UConn Master Gardener Compost Program.

Transcript: #75-Gail-Reynolds.pdf

Good News! Podcast Series, Holistic Nature of Us, Resumes

 

Dear Family and Friends,

Its been a while since I posted any podcast interviews or blogs. The past six months have been challenging. I recently lost my mother, 94 yrs, at the end of October. As her primary caretaker, I chose to be with her during her decline and then to say good-bye to her with family and friends. The holidays and the new year quickly followed.

Today I’m excited to tell you that I am resuming my podcast series Holistic Nature of Us. I enjoy interviewing and have spoken with so many folks across our country and Canada dedicated to finding solutions to the problems we face today. They have truly inspired me to keep going, to find more voices that support our holistic nature and the world around us.

I’ve got a great line-up that begins next week.
Agneta Borstein, a professional astrologer, returns. She offers her insights and wisdom for 2020 and begins my new season.

One of my favorite podcast guests Doug Tallamy, who also happens to be one of my most listened to podcast interviews, returns. He talks about his new book, Nature Best Hope just released this month and available on Amazon.

Where are we at environmentally? What’s happening in bogs, our wetlands? How does sound vibration heal us?

A theme I keep hearing over and over is one of Hope. How can we take action today so we grow hope for a sustainable future? I hope you will tune in again, and take some small action in your daily life to make a difference. Pick an area that speaks to you and do one thing to support it. One of my elders said this: “pick a local organization to get involved in, go to the meetings, participate and contribute. Pick one global organization to support even if it’s just a few dollars here and there.” (Oh Shinnah Fast Wolf)

Every action we take makes a difference.

We hope you will keep your comments coming. Are these interviews helpful? What topics would be important to explore? What organizations would you like to hear from?

I can only thank you from my heart for all your support, comments and kindnesses. Wishing all of you a prosperous, healthy, 2020.

Namaste. Judith

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Doug Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home

 

Description: Gardening for Life:  “Chances are, you have never thought of our garden – indeed, of all the space on your property, as a wildlife preserve that represents the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals that were once common throughout the U.S. But that is exactly the role our suburban landscapes are now playing and will play even more in the near future.”

Meet Doug Tallamy, who shares his research and extensive knowledge concerning the rapid decline of invaluable species due to our development practices. Can we do something today? Yes. He gives us practical tips for practical sustaining action. Join us for a timely and meaningful discussion.

About My Guest: Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 89 research publications and has taught Insect Taxonomy, Behavioral Ecology, Humans and Nature, Insect Ecology, and other courses for 36 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens was published by Timber Press in 2007 and was awarded the 2008 Silver Medal by the Garden Writers’ Association. The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014. Doug is also a regular columnist for Garden Design magazine. Doug is a Lifetime Honorary Director of Wild Ones and has won the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation, the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence, and the 2018 AHS 2018 B.Y. Morrison Communication Award.

Podcast Transcript: Transcript Tallamy.

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Mark Shepard asks: How does nature do it?

Description: How does nature do it? is a question frequently asked by Mark Shepard, one of my podcast guests. In this video, we get to see Mark’s farm, while he shows us chestnut trees, his property development and describes permaculture principles he puts into effect every day. Many of my podcast listeners tell me how much they enjoyed Mark Shepard’s discussions. He observes: what makes the system work? And then applies those very principles. Nature is a bit messy yet diversity creates backup systems.

I enjoy videos like the one above because he shows us what he has put into practice. So for a bit of a break in my podcast schedule, I am offering a couple of weeks of other videos by my guests. I hope you enjoy them. Any comments? All are appreciated.

Enjoy, Judith

Bio: Mark Shepard is the CEO of Forest Agriculture Enterprises LLC, founder of Restoration Agriculture Development LLC and award-winning author of the book, Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers. Mark has also been a farmer member of the Organic Valley cooperative, the worlds largest Organic Farmer’s marketing co-op, since 1995. He is most widely known as the founder of New Forest Farm, the 106-acre perennial agricultural savanna considered by many to be one of the most ambitious sustainable agriculture projects in the United States.

New Forest Farm is a planned conversion of a typical row-crops grain farm into a commercial-scale, perennial agricultural ecosystem using oak savanna, successional brushland, and eastern woodlands as the ecological models. Trees, shrubs, vines, canes, perennial plants, and fungi are planted in association with one another to produce foods, fuels, medicines, and beauty. Hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts and various fruits are the primary woody crops. The farm is entirely solar and wind-powered and farm equipment is capable of being powered with locally produced biofuels.

Trained in both mechanical engineering and ecology, Mark has developed and patented equipment and processes for the cultivation, harvesting, and processing of forest-derived agricultural products for human foods and biofuels production. Mark was certified as a Permaculture designer in 1993 and received his Diploma of Permaculture design from Bill Mollison, the founder of the international Permaculture movement. He teaches agroforestry and Permaculture worldwide.

For more information about Mark Shepard, one can visit newforestfarm.us
For Restoration Agriculture Development, visit restoration.com @restoration.ag on Instagram
For Forest Agriculture Enterprises, visit forestag.com
He can be located on Facebook by searching mark.shepard.906 and his Instagram is @mark_shepard_rad

 

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Craig Floyd’s Ted Talk

Description: Craig Floyd is passionate about helping children who are food insecure. His “Giving Garden”, here in Mystic CT, a part of the Denison PequotSepos Nature Center does just that. Armed with dedicated volunteers his garden not only flourishes but becomes a safe haven for children, our Veterans and more. New London County, CT is the recipient of these delicious, nutritionally packed no-till, no spray crops. 

I had a chance to visit Craig and his garden over the winter. What he has done with 11,000 square feet is truly amazing and a well thought out role model for change. When we help others we help ourselves, a holistic principle that  Craig and his garden embodies.

Since I am taking a break I thought I would offer his TED talk to my listeners. I hope you enjoy his passion, dedication, and education as Craig shares his story. Remember, all comments are appreciated.

Thanks & Enjoy,

Judith

 

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