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December 19, 2019

As the Earth Sangha’s resident optimist, it can sometimes be difficult to keep my usual cheery disposition. A new study came out in France (Wintermantel et al. 2019) showing that even after an EU-wide moratorium in 2013 and an outright ban in 2018, agricultural fields still have levels of neonicotinoids that can be fatal to bees. Research continues to pile up showing declines in birds and insects in North America and beyond. UN reports on climate change sound more dire. Amidst all this depressing news, I was contacted by the Piedmont Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society and they asked me if I could give a talk, but that they wanted it to be optimistic – to focus on what is possible rather than what is broken.

I haven’t yet decided what exactly I will...

November 28, 2018

If you read the recent NY Times Magazine article, "The Insect Apocalypse is Here," about increasing declines in insect life, you might be filled with some combination of dread, nihilist angst, or resigned sadness. We follow these articles (and the studies behind them) carefully here at Earth Sangha and I think every one of us has felt that way one time or another, though perhaps more frequently in the last couple of years.

But, we shouldn't lose hope! Conservation of local plant life is just as critical now, or perhaps even more so, than ever before. Insect herbivores, as we know from the research of Doug Tallamy and others, need native plant hosts in order to survive. These insects in return are a vital food source for native birds and other carnivores, and...

March 28, 2016

Our native spring ephemerals live such fascinating lives. Our awareness of their presence is so fleeting -- many of them will flower, go to seed, and die back all in a matter of a couple weeks -- yet many of them are long-lived and have complex ecological relationships. Certainly these small wonders are worth a closer look.

 

Micranthes virginiensis or early small-flowered saxifrage, is one of the earliest flowering spring ephemerals, though you’re not likely to notice it. It’s basal rosette persists all year long, turning a dark red in the winter and greening back up as the weather warms up. It begins forming buds in the fall, which over winter and open up early in the spring, still low to the ground nestled in the basal rosette, relatively protected from la...

February 12, 2016

 

Photo: Tree Bank Co-Directors, Manolo and Cosme, walking along the forest edge of a Credit Reserve.

 

I didn’t want to let Chris have all the fun with Tree Bank blog posts, so I thought I’d quickly share some of the work I’ve been doing with GIS (Geographic Information System). This is still a work in progress, so if you revisit this blog post at a later date it will have changed as I add more data, correct and tidy up what we have, or it may be offline if I’m working on it. You will be able to find the most recent version on our Tree Bank Mapping page.

 

Below is a very simple map that will give you a sense for our conservation activities in the Dominican Republic. Each point represents a single plot that is enrolled in one of our land conservation programs....

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