GPLT Selected for Wells Fargo Community Fund Award
GPLT Achieves National Land Trust Accreditation in Fall 2015
We have a new phone number: (678) 884-7588
GPLT Recognized by the Civil War Trust as a Battlefield Preservation Partner
GPLT Executive Director, Carol Hassell, Presents to Snellville City Council
April 19-23 Global Soil Week
April 22 International Earth Day
April 29 National Arbor Day
Protecting Land - April 2016
The Importance of Protecting Land
When you think of land, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s where your home sits, or the site of a shopping center or a weedy-looking tract with a rezoning sign at road’s edge.
These are examples of land which are, or will be, profoundly altered by humans to suit their needs.
Just as important, however, is land that isn’t altered in these ways or is restored to a state more like what existed prior to the conversion. Why? Because many birds and other critters have specific needs for food, along with places to safely hide and to raise their young. They have evolved in a particular habitat over time together with an array of plant life specific to the area. Such habitat is diminished or destroyed when humans convert it to other uses. It’s the single most important reason today for the decline in numbers of species and of members within a species.
Consider this fact: “We have taken and modified for our own use between 95 and 97 percent of all land in the lower 48 states,” writes Doug Tallamy, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, in his eye-opening work, Bringing Nature Home. “The consensus among landscape ecologists is that 3 to 5 percent of the land remains as undisturbed habitat for plants and animals.”
But, “it is not only possible but highly desirable from a human perspective to create living spaces that are themselves functioning, sustaining ecosystems with high species diversity,” Tallamy notes. One facet of such a strategy is to protect land so that some habitats can continue to exist.
The Georgia Piedmont Land Trust protects land either by taking title to it or by holding a permanent conservation easement on land owned by others who wish to ensure that their land is protected through time.
Such permanent protection ensures that habitat – whether with woodlands, creeks and wetlands, grasslands or open spaces -- will remain to be home to wildlife. These areas also can provide opportunities for nature recreation, improve water quality or provide the beautiful vistas that make natural places special.
Healthy Habitats - April 2016
What is a Healthy Habitat?
Habitat is an area where living things find food, shelter and where conditions are correct for them to reproduce and raise their young. In such an area, an array of organisms of many types have co-evolved over time to benefit each in the system – a successful balance of natural give and take.
Key to this system is the diversity of organisms that contribute to it – known as biodiversity.
Each plant or critter has a place in the system, which forms a food network. Organisms underground provide the rich soil needed for plant growth. Plants then become food for an array of small organisms and invertebrates, which in turn become food for bigger insects, which in turn are lunch for birds, reptiles and amphibians, who then become dinner for larger predators.
A healthy habitat supports and includes this diverse array of species that developed over time in it. Each organism plays a role to provide a balance of predator and prey. Thus, healthy habitat is an area or region that is balanced in a way that ensures the continued interdependence among its living things.
The values, sometimes called “ecosystem services” of such a balanced system are many. For instance, the trees in a stream corridor forest slow down the flush of rainwater from a storm; their root systems keep the soil in the area in place and allow water to filter into the ground slowly, contributing to water quality improvement. The trees themselves help provide clean air by absorbing carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen. Their canopy protects from storms. All the trees and plants native to the area provide food and shelter for critters that live in and on the land and waters. And, importantly, plenty of these plants must be pollinated by native pollinators of all descriptions. Native pollinators are significant contributors to the pollination of plants we consider important as food sources in our gardens or fields nearby.
It’s a system that every living thing, including humans, needs to remain alive.
Thriving Wildlife - April 2016
The Suburban/Urban Landscape
In addition to the healthy habitats that exist, wildlife species may find a home in areas other than their native ranges out of necessity. The basis of Doug Tallamy’s research (Bringing Nature Home ) – conversion of 95 to 97 percent of the land in the lower 48 states in the US by humans – means that most wildlife either must find other places to live or perish.
This raises the stakes for all of us to provide places in a fragmented and altered landscape where various species can continue to exist. Land that is permanently protected by private conservation organizations and landowners has become an increasingly important element in providing habitat for some of these species.
The Georgia Piedmont Land Trust has added lands over the years that serve as such refuges for species that are able to adapt. It’s one of the conservation values we consider most important. Protecting such lands in a suburban or urban landscape is important for other reasons as well: these are places where residents of surrounding communities may hike, bring their children to discover frogs and turtles, or just enjoy a natural surrounding – perhaps the only one they have the opportunity to enjoy these peaceful places.
Making A Difference - April 2016
GPLT Presents at City of Berkeley Lake Seminar
On Saturday, March 5th the Georgia Piedmont Land Trust (GPLT) kicked off the launch of its new community outreach program with a presentation to the City of Berkeley citizens as part of their annual Arbor Day celebration. Long time board member, Dale Higdon, delivered the Tree Talk presentation, “What is this tree? …and why should I care?”
Since 1998 he has been an active board member on the Georgia Piedmont Land Trust, for which he conducts all monitoring site visits of the 40+ properties protected by GPLT. As a board member of the Georgia Chapter, American Chestnut Foundation, he oversees an experimental chestnut plantation on a Georgia Piedmont Land Trust tract in Gwinnett County, where the long range goal is to produce enough seeds to reestablish chestnut trees so they will one day regain their dominant stature in the eastern forest.
Although Dale may have officially retired in 2008 after 32 years of service in the Georgia Forestry Commission in the Atlanta-Athens area, this Georgia registered forester and ISA Certified Arborist continues to stay active in his profession as a volunteer. His honors include the Georgia Urban Forest Council Individual Achievement Award and the Georgia Arborist Association Kim Coder Award for arboriculture. Under his guidance many scouts have received their Eagle Badges.
Dale talked about the benefits of trees which include:
- Cleaner, cooler air.
- Trees remove or trap lung-damaging dust, ash, pollen, and smoke from the air.
- Trees provide shade which reduces temperatures and keeps pollutants already in the air from becoming more volatile.
- Trees reduce the impact of urban heat islands.
Start with the leaf clues which include:
- Shape (shape at end of leaf and at base of leaf)
- Leaf edges
- Color (Spring and Fall)
- Leaf retention in the Fall and Winter
Look at the overall shape of the tree. Shapes include:
Look for fruit clues such as:
- Acorns, seeds with wings, sweetgum balls
- Drupes (stone fruit, like peaches)
Look for bark clues such as:
- Bark Color
- Bark Patterns
- Bark special features
- Bark thickness
Trees often live in communities, community clues to look for include:
- What kind of site is it?
- Wet – creek bank, bottomland, swamp
- Dry – ridge or hilltop, dry slopes
- Conifers or Hardwoods?
Based on the preponderance of evidence you can then begin to identify that tree.