Local Plant Conservation is more important now than ever
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 many serve as pollinators as adults.
Vegetated areas areas help ameliorate urban heat sinks that can cause local temperature spikes during heat waves -- one of the suspected causes of these increasing insect declines. As our region approaches an all-time record for wettest year, we can see first hand the importance to properly vegetated wetland buffers, bioretention ponds, riparian areas, and wooded slopes.
The positive impacts aren't just local either. I'll be speaking about how our Tree Bank Hispaniola program is contributing to bird conservation through the lens of plant conservation and restoration tomorrow evening with the Northern Virginia Bird Club at St. Andrews Episcopal Church. But the short version is this: if we protect and restore habitat with native plants in both regions, we can not just see the localized benefits of native plants that I listed above, but also contribute to the ecological health of more distant areas by providing migratory species with the habitat they need.
The release on Black Friday of the National Climate Assessment report paints a bleak picture, but here again local plant conservation plays a critical role. By protecting existing wild areas, and restoring degraded areas with appropriate local ecotype native plants, we can bolster local flora and fauna populations and, hopefully, help create some resilience in our wild areas that will help them weather future climate shifts.
This year alone, we supplied over 47,000 locally native plants, all grown from seed from local populations. We worked with dozens of schools as well as local agencies. We've even begun a program to teach students in local schools to manage their own local ecotype propagation efforts. In the Dominican Republic we have over 350 acres of threaten tropical forest in conservation or restoration and we've grown membership to 65 family farms, all engaged in sustainable agroforestry and conservation efforts.
We're energized to continue our work and, this Giving Tuesday, we need your help to continue to do so. If you're able to, please consider donating to our Giving Tuesday campaign through the Catalogue of Philanthropy. The Catalogue vets local DC-area small charities and awards effective, transparent groups by listing them as "one of the best" in the region in the Catalogue for a 4 year term. We've proud to have been honored this way for 4 consecutive terms.
As we continue to confront challenges to plant conservation both locally and abroad, we're grateful for your ongoing support.