September 4, 2019

This particular standing of Maple-Leaf Viburnum is now decimated by Bradford Pears.

Some years ago, we worked with NPS in DC to create edge-of-the woodland meadows.

Exotic Olive trees. Sadly, this is a common feature of our forest edges.

There is little doubt that our local wild areas have been in decline. This, in spite of increased awareness and efforts of many conscientious and hard-working individuals, organizations, and local park systems to turn around this negative trend. Forest communities, like our region's temperate deciduous forests, are living organisms and always changing. The forest ecology is neither random nor simple. Every part of a community, whether organic or non-organic, is influencing one another. Together, they've built a system of ecolo...

June 3, 2019

Photo: Carex jamesii on the floodplain slope. See the Common Hackberry trunk?

This has been an exceptionally brilliant spring. With cool temperature and frequent rains, our native early Carex species and ephemerals bloomed profusely. One of my favorite sites of spring is this floodplain forest near Manassas. The forest is known for calcareous and mafic rocks, and the slopes on the above photo host many attractive native plants.

On top, Witch Hazel and Maple-Leaf viburnum dominate the forest. Closer to the ground, Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum). What really interests me is the kind of vegetation on the slope. The slope is sparsely vegetated, almost always moist with thin moss visible throughout the year. The ground covers are mostly Dwarf Cinquefoil (P...

January 31, 2019

(This was written in response to one of my spiritual friends' question why what we believe shouldn't matter much.)

I happened to turn on the radio one day and listened in to a physicist in the middle of a discourse with a group of college students. I don’t remember now what the subject was about, but I was struck by a repeated assertion that the scientist made.

He said that the correct answer to any scientific research, until it’s proven with the empirical evidence, is a “don’t know.” It doesn’t matter how much data is collected and how convincingly the body of data is pointing to a particular direction and that a trained scientist could reasonably draw to a conclusion. Yet, the correct answer to the hypothesis is that you don’t know and have no credible answ...

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...

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