From the makers of the film: “We’ve made the film free to view because we want the important messages of land regeneration, nature connection, and living more simply to reach as many people as possible.
We hope you’re as inspired by the story of Hinewai Reserve.. as we are. Please feel free to share the link with anyone you feel would be interested.
Enjoy the film!”
Fools & Dreamers: Regenerating a Native Forestis a 30-minute documentary telling the story of Hinewai Nature Reserve, on New Zealand’s Banks Peninsula, and its kaitiaki/manager of 30 years, botanist Hugh Wilson. When, in 1987, Hugh let the local community know of his plans to allow the introduced ‘weed’ gorse to grow as a nurse canopy to regenerate farmland into native forest, people were not only skeptical but outright angry – the plan was the sort to be expected only of “fools and dreamers”.
Now considered a hero locally and across the country, Hugh oversees 1500 hectares resplendent in native forest, where birds and other wildlife are abundant and 47 known waterfalls are in permanent flow. He has proven without doubt that nature knows best – and that he is no fool.
OXFORD, Pa. — I GREW up thinking little of plants. I was interested in snakes and turtles, then insects and, eventually, birds. Now I like plants. But I still like the life they create even more.
Plants are as close to biological miracles as a scientist could dare admit. After all, they allow us, and nearly every other species, to eat sunlight, by creating the nourishment that drives food webs on this planet. As if that weren’t enough, plants also produce oxygen, build topsoil and hold it in place, prevent floods, sequester carbon dioxide, buffer extreme weather and clean our water. Considering all this, you might think we gardeners would value plants for what they do. Instead, we value them for what they look like.
When we design our home landscapes, too many of us choose beautiful plants from all over the world, without considering their ability to support life within our local ecosystems.
Last summer I did a simple experiment at home to measure just how different the plants we use for landscaping can be in supporting local animals. I compared a young white oak in my yard with one of the Bradford pears in my neighbor’s yard. Both trees are the same size, but Bradford pears are ornamentals from Asia, while white oaks are native to eastern North America. I walked around each tree and counted the caterpillars on their leaves at head height. I found 410 caterpillars on the white oak (comprising 19 different species), and only one caterpillar (an inchworm) on the Bradford pear.
Was this a fluke? Hardly. The next day I repeated my survey on a different white oak and Bradford pear. This time I found 233 caterpillars on the white oak (comprising 15 species) and, again, only one on the Bradford pear.
Why such huge differences? It’s simple: Plants don’t want to be eaten, so they have loaded their tissues with nasty chemicals that would kill most insects if eaten. Insects do eat plants, though, and they achieve this by adapting to the chemical defenses of just one or two plant lineages. So some have evolved to eat oak trees without dying, while others have specialized in native cherries or ashes and so on.
But local insects have only just met Bradford pears, in an evolutionary sense, and have not had the time — millennia — required to adapt to their chemical defenses. And so Bradford pears stand virtually untouched in my neighbor’s yard.
In the past, we thought this was a good thing. After all, Asian ornamentals were planted to look pretty, and we certainly didn’t want insects eating them. We were happy with our perfect pears, burning bushes, Japanese barberries, porcelain berries, golden rain trees, crape myrtles, privets, bush honeysuckles and all the other foreign ornamentals.
But there are serious ecological consequences to such choices, and another exercise you can do at home makes them clear. This spring, if you live in North America, put up a chickadee nest box in your yard. If you are lucky, a pair of chickadees will move in and raise a family. While they are feeding their young, watch what the chickadees bring to the nest: mostly caterpillars. Both parents take turns feeding the chicks, enabling them to bring a caterpillar to the nest once every three minutes. And they do this from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. for each of the 16 to 18 days it takes the chicks to fledge. That’s a total of 350 to 570 caterpillars every day, depending on how many chicks they have. So, an incredible 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars are required to make one clutch of chickadees.
And chickadees are tiny birds: just a third of an ounce. What if you wanted to support red-bellied woodpeckers in your yard, a bird that is about eight times heavier than a chickadee? How many caterpillars would that take?
What we plant in our landscapes determines what can live in our landscapes. Controlling what grows in our yards is like playing God. By favoring productive species, we can create life, and by using nonnative plants, we can prevent it.
An American yard dominated by Asian ornamentals does not produce nearly the quantity and diversity of insects needed for birds to reproduce. Some might argue that we should just let those birds breed “in nature.” That worked in the past, but now there simply is not enough “nature” left. And it shows. Many bird species in North America have declined drastically in the past 40 years.
Fortunately, more and more gardeners are realizing that their yards offer one of the most empowering conservation options we have, and are sharing their properties with the nature around them.
By the way, you might assume that my oak was riddled with unsightly caterpillar holes, but not so. Since birds eat most of the caterpillars before they get very large, from 10 feet away the oak looked as perfect as a Bradford pear.
A version of this op-ed appears in print on March 11, 2015, on page A25 of the New York edition with the headline: The Chickadee’s Guide to Gardening.
All animal photos by Douglas W. Tallamy except the woodpecker. Rob Cardillo for The New York Times (violets), Susan Farley for The New York Times (black-eyed Susans), Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times (mayapple), William Widmer for The New York Times (oak), Randy Harris for The New York Times (pawpaw), Mike Mergen (spicebush), Scott Camazine/Getty Images (bayberry), Jim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency (milkweed) and John McNamara (woodpecker).
Hope in a Changing Climate optimistically reframes the debate on global warming. Illustrating that large, decimated eco-systems can be restored, the BBC World documentary reveals success stories from Ethiopia, Rwanda and China which prove that bringing large areas back from environmental ruin is possible, and key to stabilising the earth’s climate, eradicating poverty and making sustainable agriculture a reality.
The following is a Press Release put out by Rogue Community College about the project Sustainable Rogue Valley is doing in collaboration with them on the Grants Pass Redwood Campus.
Grants Pass-Rogue Community College (RCC) and Sustainable Rogue Valley are working together to complete the demonstration Rain Garden and Bioswale on the RCC Redwood Campus to show how to help protect stormwater pollution from fouling freshwater ecosystems.
The demonstration project at the RCC Redwood Campus is located next to the Josephine Building at 3345 Redwood Highway in Grants Pass. Volunteers are needed to help complete the project. Anyone who wants to get involved and experience this project firsthand is invited to join the Sustainable Rogue Valley group at the Josephine Building parking lot on:
Friday, Feb. 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., to complete wetland and flower planting.
Friday, March 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., to construct a trail designed to encourage people to walk and discover the project.
Earth Day, Thursday, April 19, at noon and 1 p.m., there will be tours of the site.
RCC’s demonstration rain garden collects rainwater runoff from impervious landscapes such as parking lots and roads and filters the water through a bioswale using unique wetland plants and organic matter that acts as a sponge that holds and breaks down contaminants and pollutants while letting water seep into the ground or enter natural drainage systems. With a healthy and varied plant community, rain gardens can produce a pleasing environment while providing a vital function in the watershed.
Signs are posted on-site to explain the project and its goals, the pattern of runoff, types of wetland plants, and how bioswales improve watershed health. “We hope this demonstration site will inspire others to build rain gardens and bioswales to improve water quality and beautify the landscape,” said Charles Rogers, the RCC science instructor managing the project.
This project has been funded by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board to construct the drainage basin and filling it with mulch. The local Williams Creek Watershed Council completed that stage during the summer of 2017. Additional funding was provided by the RCC Foundation and Ashland Food Co-op for plants and materials to complete the rain garden.
Sustainable Rogue Valley is a local group dedicated to fostering sustainable practices through community service and education.
Individuals and local groups interested in getting involved in planting, shaping and maintaining this active demonstration project can visit www.sustainableroguevalley.org for more information. If you would like to help with completing the rain garden, contact Rogers at email@example.com.
We need to educate ourselves and educate each other to learn the basic principles of ecology and systemic thinking and then we need to filter this through the local conditions and the local culture to create something that is lasting, sustainable and effective.— Fritjof Capra
Nature is sustainable because it is regenerative. That is the key lesson.
— Fritjof Capra
Here are pictures taken this summer and fall of the progress on the Project. Chas Rogers has done an amazing job – not only writing the grants, but coordinating the work and DOING a huge amount himself! We just had a big planting day before Thanksgiving and LOTS of folks showed up – RCC students as well as SRV members!
There is more to come (big boulders and more plants in early 2018), so check back from time to time to watch the progress! And go to RCC to check it out in person!
The following article was just posted by Utne – an online and paper magazine. Sustainable Rogue Valley is presently in the midst of creating a large demonstration Rain Garden and Bioswale at Rogue Community College Campus in Grants Pass, OR., and created and care for a small version at the Josephine County Fairgrounds in 2016.
Communities across the country are devising creative ways to make water conservation work.
By Cynthia Barnett, from Orion
On a winter’s day in Seattle, a leaden monotony hangs over the Central Business District, dispiriting to this part of downtown. Contrary to reputation, the urban pallor is not born of rain, which falls almost imperceptibly from silvery clouds that match the nearby waters of Puget Sound. Rather, the gloom rises from the cement hardscape. The busy streets are paved dark gray, the wide sidewalks beside them light gray. The skyscrapers rise in shades of gray. The hulking freeways, ramps, and overpasses: gray. The monorail track and its elephantine pillars: gray.
Trudge the sidewalks northwest to Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, hang a left on Vine Street toward the sound, and a 10-foot-tall, bright blue rain tank pops from the dullness, tipped whimsically toward a red brick office building. Atop the tank, green pipes in the shape of fingers and a thumb reach out, the stretched index finger connected to a downspout from the rooftop. Rainwater flows from roof to finger to palm to thumb, from which it pours to a series of descending basins built between the sidewalk and the street. They, in turn, cascade to landscaped wedges growing thick with woodland plants. For two blocks, as Vine slopes toward the sound, water trickles down a runnel and through street-side planters, shining stones, and stepped terraces, enlivening the roadway with greenery, public sculpture, and the sounds of falling water.
The project, called Growing Vine Street, began as a small, water conservation effort among residents and property owners to turn their stretch of a former industrial neighborhood into an urban watershed. Twenty years later, it is a big part of the answer to the largest single source of pollution fouling Puget Sound and most of the major bays and freshwater ecosystems of the United States—stormwater.
The gray shellac of a city repels more than the imagination. When rain flows along streets, parking lots, and rooftops rather than percolating into the ground, it soaks up toxic metals, oil and grease, pesticides and herbicides, feces, and every other scourge that can make its way to a gutter. This runoff impairs virtually every urban creek, stream, and river in Washington. It makes Pacific killer whales some of the most PCB-contaminated mammals on the planet. It’s driving two species of salmon extinct, and kills a high percentage of healthy coho within hours of swimming into Seattle’s creeks, before they’ve had a chance to spawn.
Returning some of nature’s hydrology to the cityscape can make an enormous difference—or could—as more individuals, businesses, and neighborhoods remake their bit of the terra firma. Washington State University scientists have found that streets with rain gardens clean up 90 percent or more of the pollutants flowing through on their way to the sound. Green roofs reduce runoff between 50 and 85 percent and can drop a building’s energy costs by nearly a third. Cisterns like the one on Vine Street solve two problems, reducing runoff and capturing water for outdoor irrigation—which in summer can account for half a city’s freshwater demand.
Volunteers Needed on Friday, October 14, 2016 – 10:00 am
Volunteers are needed to help remove invasive berry bushes at the Gilbert Creek Park at 1750 NW Hawthorne Ave, Grants Pass, OR
Meet at the Creek at 10 am and — bring loppers or clippers, — wear study shoes — and thick gloves, — bring water and snacks to keep going.
Deb Berg is the organizing force and generous heart behind this worthy project.
Please contact her if you can help on next Friday Oct. 14th, or if you want to be on the volunteer list for this inspirational creek restoration project. It will be going on for a while!
Deb Berg: cell 541-660-2541 firstname.lastname@example.org
Share the good news about this project to restore our Creek Restoration Demonstration Park at Gilbert Creek that has fallen into disrepair.
Grant money has been obtained and we’re moving forward to polish this Gem.
In early June Mike Nelson completed and installed an Insect Hotel in the Bees and Pollinators bed at the Firewise Gardens project at the Fairgrounds! As you can see from the picture it’s truly a work of art! Each section is created as habitat for a different sort of pollinator insect.
These “Insect Hotels” are extremely popular in Europe where the natural habitats have been decimated by human populations, and so farmers, homeowners, parks and schools have taken to creating sometimes very large and elaborate “insect hotels” in order to compensate. They can be as small and simple as a coffee can filled with bamboo tubes to the type of thing Mike created and much much larger. Do a Google Image search for “Insect hotel” and you will see dozens of examples.
This bed also includes a “watering tray” since bees and other pollinators need water, too. It’s a small clay tray filled with sand and pebbles allowing safe and easy access to the water without drowning. Next to this tray is a bare sandy “bank” surrounded by grasses that can act as a nesting site for the many types of ground nesting bees native to Oregon.
The garden is also filled with a variety of plants that will bloom from late winter through the summer, offering ongoing food (nectar).
The signage for the beds will come soon – but in the meantime you won’t have any trouble finding Mike’s wonderful Insect Hotel. Go to the Josephine County Fairgrounds and check it out – second bed on the left!