Monday, February 01, 2010

Green Action #2 - Understanding Local Biodiversity

Focusing for a month on the sustainability of the food we eat has changed how my husband and I think about food.

February is a short month, but the Green Action I’m taking this month is to become a more active participant in understanding our local biodiversity.

This is a photo of a slender salamander in our yard. We live in one of the world’s largest cities, yet we have a population of these tiny amphibians that make their home on our hillside. Some of their close relatives, other slender salamander populations, are highly endangered because of habitat loss. We’re moving plants and structures around in our yard, but we know that these creatures are part of our specific biodiversity. We always keep an eye out for them when we are digging in the yard and try not to change the natural drainage of the hillside because it could have a negative effect on the salamanders.

If you don’t think there are any wild animals or plants where you live then you haven’t looked up and seen a bird or looked down and noticed the seedling growing up from the crack in the concrete. Living things are all around us, but we have become disconnected from them. Backyard Biodiversity Project

We can teach young students that rainforest and arctic ecosystems are endangered, but unless they can connect their daily actions to cause and effect, they won’t change their behavior. Adults are the best example of this. How many of us donate money to save an animal or an ecosystem far away, but have no idea what lives within 10 miles of our homes and might be endangered or threatened by our daily actions?

February offers several opportunities to learn more about what lives around you and to participate in Citizen Science Projects. You can play an important role helping scientists understand what species live where and how they are doing.

So here are the specific plans I have for this month:

  1. Organize 2 birdwalks for Cornell University’s Great Backyard Bird Count President’s Day weekend.
  2. Establish a site survey bird-counting area at Serrania Avenue Park in Woodland Hills through ebird. (I went out and did my first count this morning, 23 species)
  3. Learn more about local amphibian and reptile species.
  4. Find at least one new way I can help local plant and animal biodiversity.

Tomorrow I’ll post the specific information about Great Backyard Bird Count and how you can participate.

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