Posts Tagged ‘conservation’

it’s save the frogs day!

April 29, 2011

I couldn’t let this day go by without a nod to my amphibian friends (after all, raganella means tree frog in Italian). You might have heard that amphibian species are in trouble worldwide. Their numbers are declining, with numerous factors bringing about their demise. It’s a sad state of affairs. But that’s what this day is for. There are events taking place all over the globe to bring awareness to the frogs’ plight.

Find an event near you, or make one up (it doesn’t have to be just today, either).

Here’s one simple thing you can do to support frogs. Push for the banning of atrazine, a potent and widely used herbicide that’s no longer legal in Europe due to its harmful effects on amphibian reproduction and development (you can also take action via NRDC). Atrazine is the most commonly found pesticide in rainwater, groundwater, and tapwater in the US.

Frogs are an indicator species, showing us when an ecosystem is polluted or out of balance. Let’s listen to these sensitive creatures and stop using atrazine to kill plants (and unintentionally, amphibians).



a new f’ing wilderness

February 28, 2010

How do you envision urban wilderness? For me, this question brings to mind so many ideas and visions, of what’s wild and alive in the city today, of what was once wild and living in the city hundreds of years ago before the intensive “settling” by Europeans.

I answered this question on the Urban Wilderness Action Center (UWAC) website and will now be taking part in a UWAC Day put on by Eyebeam (et al) on March 20. Want to help out? Email me at: liz [at] raganella [dot] com

Learn more about the event here.

Below is my submission and a hint at how my action will go down:

The preservation, restoration, or natural succession of wild places in the city

24 Feb 2010 by Liz N, No Comments »

Brooklyn NY

What is Urban Wilderness and how do you envision it? : Wilderness is all around us though we’ve paved over much of it. It fights the asphalt, struggling to succeed. Finds its way through crack and crevice, planting itself in abandoned buildings, untended sidewalks and parking lots. Nature thrives in the edge. In the gravel live tiny microbes, under sidewalks in compacted street tree beds, mycorrhizae are at work on the roots of isolated trees.

Most immediately, there are fragmented patches of remnants of wilderness in the parks in which we find refuge from the urban hardscape. On a rare occasion, alone in Prospect Park on a trail in ‘the woods,’ I am no longer in the city, or not the city of 2010.

Wilderness is where we feel an unnameable pull, a call to our heritage, to the billion-year evolution of our inner flora. Where we feel more human and more part of the planet from which we’ve sprung. It can happen while crossing the street, maybe catching the flight of a bird or its song. Or we can try to make it happen, seeking a piece of earth to claim for an afternoon of reflection.

What type of interventions would love to see to help shape Urban Wilderness? We’re interested in both the practical and the fantastically impractical.: Reclaim riparian buffer zones. Take over the paved over. Dig up the pavement and concrete and build urbanite moss gardens in shady alleys and backyards. Plant trees, shrubs, wetland grasses where the pavement was.

Reconnect the urban forest. Have a ’stream’ of trees continuing from Wave Hill down to Central Park, down Park Avenue. A line of trees connecting all of the city’s parks, relinking the mycelial network that allows them to thrive. Migrating birds will find more sanctuary. Maybe we’ll begin to get a sense of the thickness of birds described by early settlers. The air will be a bit cleaner. A newfound sense of calm will fall upon even the most trafficked city neighborhoods.

How would you practically teach and perform such an intervention? (and Would you be interested in leading it?): To start: Hold public demonstrations of what was once present, before it was paved over, using data from the Mannahatta Project. Create giant posters covering the fronts of buildings with recreations of forest stands. Hang flocks of birds from wires between buildings.

Secondarily, convince city planning and officials that street trees should have continuous tree beds extending the length of city blocks. Dig away the sidewalk between trees and plant low-maintenance grasses and plants.

Optimistically, obtain parcels of land and get to replanting forests and riparian buffer zones. I know there would be many willing participants to dig in. There’s just the small matter of procuring the land. Maybe we could start with the 12,000 acres of vacant land in the city first.

I would love to lead this kind of intervention.

This post was submitted by Liz N.

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Image source: Hoggs Blog

i enjoyed a dirty movie today

August 13, 2009

Well, actually it was more of a love story. A love story about dirt, probably the most overlooked natural resource, yet one of the most vital elements on the planet. Without healthy soil there would be no food… and we all know where that would lead us.

The film includes an all-star cast of ecological gurus gushing about the ‘skin of the earth.’ This list of heavyweights in the film just scratches the surface – Vandana Shiva, Nobel-peace-prize-winning Wangari Maathai, John Todd, Majora Carter of Sustainable South Bronx, and Andy Lipkis of TreePeople.

Check out the trailer, then see if it’s playing near you!

After watching the film I’m feeling motivated to learn more about soil. Here are some resources I’m going to check out:

(You can also get this one at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Bookstore)

signing petitions and letters pays off

March 25, 2009

Sometimes I receive an email or letter in response to a petition or letter I’ve signed stating that said petition helped make something happen. I just wanted to share with you one of these letters, to show that taking the smallest little action — like typing your name in an online form with a letter to your representatives attached — pays off.

Dear Liz,

Over the past several weeks more than 17,000 Sierra Club members emailed, called, and wrote letters to Congress. Hundreds of you submitted letters to the editor and encouraged your friends and family to call their representatives. Your calls and emails paid off! The biggest public lands bill in decades cleared its final hurdle today, when the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass it. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 safeguards millions of acres of new wilderness, protects hundreds of miles of rivers, expands trails, and keeps critical habitat in Wyoming safe from oil and gas leasing.

Today, Congress has helped ensure that we will have a wild legacy to pass on to our children and grandchildren. This bill helps guarantee that future generations will be able to hike in pristine forests from California to West Virginia. The bill ensures that Americans will have a chance to fish untouched rivers and watch antelope migrate in the wild.

The bill protects more than two million acres of wilderness in nine states, including the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Oregon’s Mt. Hood, and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. It also shelters over a million acres of key hunting and fishing grounds on the Wyoming Range from oil and gas drilling.

Thank you for taking action!


Greg Haegele
Director of Conservation

getting involved

January 26, 2009

Was anyone else inspired as much as I was by Obama’s call to service? I mean, isn’t this what the country has been needing — someone who is going to take the lead and guide people to work hard for the country they love? It’s like we’ve all been in a kind of idle for the past 8 years, waiting for someone to tell us how we can help fix things. Not that a lot of people haven’t been doing great things for the world for the past 8 years, but there’s definitely been a lack of leadership from our governmental representatives.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to contribute. I already have a few ideas for specific issues I’d like to tackle. In case you need some ideas, I’ve put together a little list of ways you can help make the world a better place (a Michael Jackson song suddenly comes to mind):

ReCharge America
The ReCharge America movement is a call to act close to home, well, literally in your home. They lay out a simple 10 step plan for outfitting your home in order to save energy — from swapping incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents to switching to renewable energy through your electricity provider. Once you take the steps toward reducing energy use in your home, it’s easy to help your friends and family. Get to steppin’.

Power Past Coal
The Power Past Coal project is a collaborative effort to end the country’s dependence on the dirty fossil fuel. You can start your own action, or join an existing one.

Be a Conservation Advocate

What does it take to be a conservation advocate? Passion, motivation, and a little elbow grease. Anyone can do it. You don’t need an advanced degree in Ecology or any other field for that matter. It can be really daunting to think about, but you really could become an advocate with the right guidance and a little self education. Read Conservation International’s guide on becoming a conservation advocate to learn more.