|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 439 June 29, firstname.lastname@example.org||Victoria, B.C.|
Restoring the prairies and oak woodlands that run through Puget Sound's lowlands, western Oregon and British Columbia, is a complex and intensely local effort. Acre by acre, land stewards wrench out Scotch broom, reseed wildflowers, nurture butterflies, and work to understand the interplay of all the elements that make up this fragile land.
The Nature Conservancy has helped to develop a sophisticated collaborative working group, the Cascadia Prairie-Oak Partnership, to share conservation efforts throughout this region. Now, all that the partnership members have learned over 20 years and uncounted acres of restoration has been collected into one volume. This work was supported by the Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management program, which provides financial support to DOD efforts to protect our natural and cultural heritage.
The spring issue of Northwest Science, the peer-reviewed journal of the Northwest Scientific Association, represents the most up-to-date information for the prairie-oak system in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.
"This publication provides us with long-needed, up-to-date information that relates directly to our on-the-ground conservation and restoration efforts. This volume is going to guide our work for years to come," said David Wilderman, a Department of Natural Resources ecologist who manages restoration at Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve.
The bottom line of all this research is that conservation efforts are showing considerable successes in many areas, but they require a good understanding of natural history, solid scientific studies, and perseverance with a long-term commitment.
For example, conservationists have a variety of tools at their disposal for beating back invasive species to allow the native species to thrive: burning, as practiced by Native Americans for generations; careful application of targeted herbicide; fall and spring mowing, and re-seeding with native seeds. But use of these techniques has been as fragmented as the prairies themselves. Land managers relied on anecdotal knowledge-sharing, or studies testing single treatment in one place.
But now, conservation practitioners have access to a five-year study across the entire geography testing multifaceted restoration techniques. They've learned that adding seed of native species - even ones that are already present on a site - is key in most restoration. Burning or applying herbicide isn't sufficient, as there usually is not enough native seed available to jump in when weeds are controlled. Carefully selected, multiple treatments used in combination over several years are necessary. One or two treatments (a burn, or a couple of applications of herbicide) aren't going to do it.
Dr. Peter Dunwiddie served as the editor for this volume. Dr. Dunwiddie has worked in prairie conservation since 1983, and has published widely in scientific literature, particularly in the areas of rare plants and natural area management. He is known for working collaboratively with academic scientists and land managers.
Jeffrey Duda, a research ecologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, is the editor of Northwest Science.
Read it online at http://www.bioone.org/toc/nwsc/85/2
Late this past August , towards the end of what was a magnificent summer in the northern hinterland, I was a guest at the marriage of two friends and colleagues-both keen botanists and naturalists. It was a moving ceremony, not least for me because the groom is the grandson of Ray Williston (in attendance and still alert) and the reception was held at a lodge overlooking nearby Burnt Cabin Bog Ecological Reserve. As a cabinet minister, Mr. Williston was persuaded by Dr. Vladimir Krajina and other concerned biologists of the value of ecological reserves, and was instrumental in getting crucial legislation passed in 1971-the Ecological Reserves Act. Even in those days of the buccaneering politics of W.A.C. Bennett and his Social Credit provincial government, some cabinet ministers and astute senior bureaucrats understood the clear purpose of, and need for, natural areas permanently set aside for scientific research and educational use. They also understood that ecological reserves were different than parks.
As I mused upon the joy, hope, and anxiety that the young couple must have been feeling during their wedding, I also reflected on my hopes and fears for ecological reserves. How difficult (but ultimately rewarding) it has been to get some of them established: Burnt Cabin Bog was proposed in 1973; I helped Dr. Krajina survey it back then; 27 years later it was finally established. How easily some reserves have been damaged or compromised, by unauthorized uses (hunting, fishing, livestock grazing, four-wheeling, and so forth) that stem in large part from an inability or unwillingness by government agencies to enforce regulations and manage ecological reserves in the spirit of the legislation.
Ecological reserves are legally protected natural areas where human interference with natural processes is supposed to be kept to a minimum. The major purposes of ecoreserves are:
You and I know that's what ecoreserves are for. You can find a similar version of the above on the British Columbia Parks website: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/eco_reserve/ Sometimes I wonder if cabinet ministers and their advisors have read the material posted on "their" websites.
Ecological reserves are NOT parks. Ecoreserves are established primarily for their scientifc and educational value; research and educational use are encouraged under permit. They are not created for outdoor recreation, although most are open to the public, for non-destructive observational use (i.e., natural history). They were not intended for commercial backcountry recreation, or for use by privateers masquerading as outdoor educators.
Even more recently, this September I helped lead a field trip for a group of Bulkley Valley citizens uneasily but earnestly engaged in the current form of limited participatory democracy in resource planning on provincial Crown land-aka land and resource management planning, in this case the Morice Land and Resource Management Plan (see http://www.ilmb.gov.bc.ca/slrp/lrmp/smithers/morice/index.html ). The group had many questions about ecology and forestry, including a set revolving around the differences between wild young forests and commercially managed young forests. In the middle of the 19,000 ha Swiss Fire, I lead them through the latter to the former. To the edge of the Morice River Ecological Reserve, ER#81, established in 1977, mostly burnt over in the 1983 fire. Twenty years later, the Morice River Ecoreserve supports a dense young forest of mostly lodgepole pine: no salvage logging, natural regeneration, no planting, no spacing or thinning, lots of snags and downed logs. The differences between it and the adjacent managed forest were clear and easy for people to observe and think about and discuss. What's more, in 1983 we researchers established permanent plots in the reserve, and have been monitoring ecological succession there for 20 years. Such long-term data sets are rare indeed in British Columbia. There was much for the group to see and learn and talk about. Were it not for this Ecological Reserve, it would be difficult to find a reasonably accessible, wild young forest for such comparisons, within 100 km of the town of Houston. There is plenty of young forest in the area, but the silviculturists have been assiduous and most such stands have experienced some sort of management intervention. I was reminded once again, and forcefully, of the scientific and educational value of ecoreserves.
Nowadays ecological reserves seem to have been relegated to second or third class status by the provincial government and its responsible management agency, British Columbia Parks. In fairness, the relative neglect is unfortunately not a recent phenomenon. And of course, it is largely because Parks simply doesn't have the resources to manage our parks, much less protect ecoreserves. But it is very worrying when some Parks people seem to regard ecoreserves as a nuisance. Our leaders and their handlers seem also to lack the original clear vision of the purpose and value of ecological reserves. Some could be prisoners of ideology, some perhaps are ethically ambiguous, most are ecologically challenged. That's nothing new, but the lack of checks and balances in governance is. Although the legislation remains clear, the regulations governing ecoreserves contain loopholes that can be exploited. Now more than ever ecological reserves need all the friends they can get, and all support that the Friends of Ecological Reserves can provide.
Beauséjour, Sylvain. 2008. Les Orchidées indigènes du Québec/Labrador [English translation by Paul Martin Brown on pages 158-173] Les Éditions Native. 176 p. ISBN 978-2-9810127-0-8 [hard cover] Price: $49.95
For sample pages and the order information go to www.orchideequebec.com
The past few years have seen several new books relating to the wild orchids of Canada. They have essentially been field guides and vary from slender paperbacks on Newfoundland and Manitoba to the more extensive Wild Orchids of the Canadian Maritimes and Northern Great Lakes. After many years of painstaking photography and research, Beauséjour has produced what is the most beautiful book on the orchids of northern North America. Neither a field guide nor a botanical treatise, Les Orchidées indigènes du Québec/Labrador is a feast for the eyes of the most artistic photographs to come along in many years. Each species is treated with numerous photographs as well as the pertinent technical information and a map showing the general distribution in the region. Habitat photographs abound and extreme close-ups are the rule rather than the exception for each species. Sylvain's expertise as a photographer is unquestioned, but his dedication to finding all of these orchids is bordering on the fanatical. I have been privileged to help him in locating some of the species, many of which required multiple trips of great distances, and then as the book was nearing completion, I provided the English translation to give the book a larger audience. It was a special experience that I had not attempted. Be sure to check Beauséjour's Web site for a unique preview of the book.
Les Orchidées indigenes du Québec/Labrador has had a frustrating history of publication as the first printing in November 2007 was so poorly bound that Beauséjour refused delivery and returned the books and then after many months of negotiations and broken promises, he has finally received the books. And they are spectacular. The large format, heavy papers and brilliant colors all contribute to this superior volume. Although certainly biased in favour of the book, I highly recommend it to all native orchid enthusiasts, and as it is a private printing the run will sell out soon. Can we now look forward in the future to a companion publication by Beauséjour on the orchids of Ontario?
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