Landscape Restoration and Healing
The price of conservation in the 21st century is eternal vigilance.
The abandonment of a nation’s lands and waterways, or their passive ownership, is not responsible stewardship of natural resources. A quiet threat to the health and integrity of your property, no matter the size of the parcel, may have already established itself without your notice: invasive species of flora and fauna.
E.O. Wilson, Pulitzer prize-winning scientist and author, warned in 2005: “The threat of invasive species is perhaps our most urgent economic and conservation challenge.” It’s a human pressure point evident across the planet like biodepletion and human-accelerated climate change that represents a compounding effect on the sustainable health of ecosystems and human communities.
Recent projects for Bioquest Solutions, include the following as work on landscape restoration and healing:
• The repair of a degraded forested parcel of oak, maple, hickory, ash, and pine in an urban setting in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley affected adversely by invasive flora over the past 80 years, species such as Tree of Heaven, Japanese Honeysuckle, Oriental Bittersweet, and Multiflora Rose. The property owner approached Bioquest Solutions to request a preliminary natural resource management plan that entailed close work with the owner, a landscape design team, a tree service company, and other on-site providers. Components of the plan involved the culling of diseased or damaged trees; the removal of invasives; an initial biological survey; recommendations for walking trails; native plantings for woody and herbaceous species; and wildlife enhancements (e.g., nesting boxes for Bluebirds, roosting boxes for Screech Owls, and native insect-feeding bats).
• An invitation from representatives of a mountaintop removal coal-mining corporation based in Pike County, Kentucky to provide a science-based proposal for an environmental analysis focused on insect pollinators in a large restoration site. Components of the proposal included the establishment of baseline soils data, short-term surveys of flora and fauna, monitoring for possible soil and water contaminants, and even considerations for phytoremediation, and the post-mining planting of native herbaceous and wood plants for target pollinators. We focused on nearby forest fragments as source populations for what could be regarded as “normal” for the site.
Bioquest Solutions’ standard approach to such parcels includes recommendations for forested buffers along streams, rivers, and wetlands, an initial biological survey of flora and fauna, technologies and methods for the eradication of invasive species especially along property boundaries and trails, in situ measures to protect endangered and threatened species, basic soil and water analyses (including terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, respectively), and discussions about conservation easements, along with a long-term natural resource management plan.
H. Bruce Rinker, the principal for Bioquest Solutions has been involved extensively with the humane management of invasive flora and fauna at home and abroad, for example:
• Galápagos Islands (Ecuador): The removal of the invasive Cinchona pubescens a plant that threatens the nesting sites of the highly endangered Dark-Rumped Petrel, Petrodroma phaseopygia, an endemic seabird in the remote highlands of the Galápagos that is also intimidated by feral cats, Norway rats, voracious pigs and destructive goats and wild-ranging donkeys. That all require an ongoing targeted eradication campaign.
• New York State: The invasive Purple Loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria, threatens the integrity and biodiversity of wetlands in the northern tier of the United States. One management strategy of loosestrife is the employment of biological controls
• Florida: The removal of the invasive feral Domestic Cat in Pinellas County, Florida, and in the mid-Hudson Valley of New York State that threatens native and small mammals and birds around the world. In 2008, an animal rights group proposed that Pinellas County adopt a misguided and unconscionable program called TNR (or “trap, neuter and re-abandon”), to release Domestic Cats into the wild. Dr. Rinker spoke against the TNR proposal to the County’s Board of County Commissioners. You may find the full text of his remarks here. TNR is a de-bunked pseudoscience. with no scientific merit whatsoever.
You may find additional information about TNR at the following links:
A message from the Journal of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics about human-caused mortality in wildlife.
A message from The Wildlife Society about the impacts of an invasive species like cats.
A message from PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, to keep cats indoors.
A message from the American Bird Conservancy.
A message from the HIllsborough (FL) Animal Health Foundation.