Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Habitat Stepping Stones (Australia)

Link to a new project from the Australian Research Institute for Environment and Sustainability (ARIES) at Macquarie University, which is seeking to enhance the complexity of urban biodiversity.  The website provides information to urban citizens about how to help out wildlife who are "doing it tough".

Individuals pledge to provide three or more "stepping stones" (schools and community centres can participate also) and then the address can be added to an online map so illustrate the number of stepping stones across the city.  Participants can also share stories, photos and videos through social media.

Three cities are already participating: Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Discounts and/or free plants are available to participants at their local garden store, who also receive a sign to put up in the front of their home.  They also received local wildlife tips and news.

All details here: Habitat Stepping Stones

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Nature in the city (San Francisco)

Nature in the City is a non-profit working in the City of San Francisco to help connect people to nature though both restoration and stewardship programs.  They provide public education and also habitat and plant consultations for both public and private spaces.  There was a great article in Earth Island Journal about a specific project that helped restore butterfly habitat in the city:

From Earth Island:

One of our keystone projects is the “Green Hairstreak Corridor,” a butterfly habitat restoration project situated in the inner Sunset District. The iridescent green, nickel-sized green hairstreak butterfly (Callophrys viridis) was once common throughout the area. It was often seen with the now-extinct Xerces blue (Glaucopsyche xerces), the first butterfly in the US said to go extinct due to urbanization. But today, the green hairstreak survives only in small and isolated populations. Because this butterfly can only fly a few hundred feet from its original habitat, the species might vanish unless we intervene to save it.

photo of a butterfly on a plant
Credit: Michael L. Baird

To help the butterfly, in 2006 local lepidopterist Liam O’Brien launched this wildlife habitat corridor project, which aims to connect two isolated green hairstreak butterfly populations via strategically placed “Street Parks” full of host plants and nectar sources.

It’s working. With the help of a handful of paid staff and volunteers, Nature in the City is recreating more of the upland dune habitat on which these butterflies depend. In spring 2011, the first green hairstreak butterfly was seen in a restored plot, and in spring 2013, dozens were witnessed darting between plants or perched in the sun. We have successfully connected the two isolated breeding populations and, for the time being, secured this threatened butterfly’s survival.

Such a great project to read about during these cold winter months and while hoping for a resurgence in the Monarch population in 2014!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

National Tree Benefit Calculator

This is the wonderful tool that I used to calculate the ecological benefits of the trees at Rockcliffe Lands for my Spacing Ottawa article.  It was conceived and developed by Casey Trees and Davey Tree Expert Co and is based on  i-Tree’s street tree assessment tool called STREETS.

From the website:
The National Tree Benefit Calculator allows anyone to make a simple estimation of the benefits individual street-side trees provide. With inputs of location, species and tree size, users will get an understanding of the environmental and economic value trees provide on an annual basis. The Tree Benefit Calculator is intended to be simple and accessible. As such, this tool should be considered a starting point for understanding trees’ value in the community, rather than a scientific accounting of precise values. 
While in theory this tool can only be used in U.S. you can adapt it for Southern Ontario by choosing the most northerly hardiness zone (Northeast Zone).

For more information on the benefits of urban street trees, take a look at this video from i-Tree:

Community Trees: A Living Asset

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Eco Science plus Art (Patricia Johanson)

Received an email from Ottawa Greenspace Alliance:  For those interested in learning more on working with “Eco Science plus Art”. This approach to infrastructure for restoring polluted land and urban water treatment is being applied in various cities and country places in the U.S.A.  On the website link below you can watch and listen to the featured speaker, Patricia Johanson.

From the Ecoscience Plus Art wordpress site:

“Patricia Johanson’s major projects combine art, ecology, landscaping, and functional infrastructure.  They include Fair Park Lagoon in Dallas (1981-86), a municipal flood basin, and “Endangered Garden”, San Francisco (1987), a transport-storage sewer whose roof provides public access to restored habitats and is part of the Bay Circuit Trail.  Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility in Petaluma, California utilizes sequential wetlands to process sewage into recycled water, while framing infrastructure as a public park and homes for local wildlife.  “The Draw at Sugar House”, Salt Lake City, incorporates a major highway crossing for Parley’s Trail with a sculptural dam, whose floodwalls and spillway recall the Mormon journey through Echo Canyon.  And “Mary’s Garden” in Scranton, Pennsylvania reclaims mine-scarred land, where water drops through seven levels of underground mines, restoring surface flow and providing geothermal energy, storm water treatment, restored ecological communities, and sculpture, within the context of a public park.”

Friday, January 3, 2014

Wildflowers of Detroit (Kickstarter Project)

Found this great kickstarter project from 2011.  They wanted to do ground source mapping of the return of wildflowers to the City of Detroit due to the increase of abandoned lots.  How interesting!!

Here is an Huffington Post article on the project: Wildflowers of Detroit Smartphone App

More information from the website:

Wildflowers of Detroit ??

One pervasive vision of Detroit is its ruins - the monolithic hulks of an industrial era gone by, documented in striking photographs and tales of urban exploration. Missing from this narrative is the other side of the coin.  In place of those decaying buildings grow plots of wildflowers and wildlife. After knowing these secret gardens and hidden blooms, we feel this crucial story needs to be told.  Thats where you come in.  Wildflowers of Detroit is a community technology project for cataloging wild plants growing in Detroit, an effort which can enable people's appreciation of its open space.  Though experiencing and appreciating the "empty" fields, we can discover together the emerging ecology of this area.  Our technologies collaborative WinterRoot is teaming up with Detroit's Omnicorp Hackerspace and Alley Culture's Seed Exchange to bring this vision into being.
A link to one of the creators Tumblr Site.

All Images from Wildflowers of Detroit