25 December 2016

Wildlife Fenced in by Refugee Fences

barbed wire fences
on the Slovenian-Croatian border
Yale 360 reported this week that the fences and walls that are being constructed to prevent the movement of migrants, are also preventing the healthy and necessary movement of wildlife. Excerpts follow - 

"A flood of migrants from the Middle East and Africa has prompted governments in the Balkans to erect hundreds of miles of border fences. Scientists say the expanding network of barriers poses a serious threat to wildlife, especially wide-ranging animals such as bears and wolves."

The author of the article, Jim O’Donnell, is a freelance environmental journalist and conservation photographer. 

In addition to bears and wolves, lynx roam Europe as part of their migratory behavior. 

"On his most recent trip into the mountains along the Slovenian-Croatian border, biologist Djuro Huber counted 11 dead roe deer, all caught up in the fencing. The deer stumble into the barriers while foraging. In a desperate bid to escape, they drive themselves further into the razor wire, entangling themselves and eventually dying of blood loss. “Certainly many more died, but the border officials try to remove them before [they are] photographed,” says Huber of the University of Zagreb in Croatia. “But it is what we don’t see that troubles me the most.” 

While the deer are the most obvious victims, carnivores tend to simply turn away from the fences. If a young male bear or a wolf can’t cross the border to mate, for example, he will look for a more accessible female. The result is genetic isolation and inbreeding, a problem already threatening the region’s dwindling lynx population. This can lead to an increase in diseases and unwanted genetic mutations that may ultimately lead to localized extinctions, scientists say. "

"Not only do the fences kill wildlife and lead to genetic isolation, according to a June 2016 study published in the journal PLOS Biology, but these barriers also hamper the efforts of organizations such as the European Wilderness Society (EWS), which is working to protect and expand existing wilderness throughout Europe. According to EWS Chairman Max Rossberg, Eastern Europe holds some of the best-preserved wildlands on the continent and some of its healthiest wildlife populations."

The impact is being felt in other nations, too.
The impact of border fences on wildlife is not limited to Europe. A 2011 study pointed out that the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border blocks 16 key species from about 75 percent of their habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said that a fence proposed by President-elect Donald Trump would impact 111 endangered species and 108 migratory birds. In Asia, nearly the entire 2,900-mile Chinese-Mongolian border is fenced, impacting species such as the Asiatic wild ass and the Mongolian gazelle. Border fences also have been erected between states of the former Soviet Union. "

Consider this phenomenon that can no longer happen with the fences installed:
"One Eurasian brown bear, dubbed Ivo, was tracked by satellite collar as he roamed for 21 months from Slovakia, to Hungary, to Poland, to Ukraine, crossing international borders 63 times. " 
Fencing Europe

“European nations are small,” says Aleksandra Majic, a biologist at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. “They are not large enough to host their own healthy populations of large carnivores.” 

Although the flow of refugees has slowed, the fences are still being built. Few if any refugees traveled in the Dinaric Mountains, but a fence is nevertheless being erected in this rugged territory. Huber, Majic, and other conservationists say politicians in the Balkans are building the fences to divert attention from other economic and political problems. “They [the fences] only make sense when viewed within the context of populist politicians playing the ‘fear’ card to fuel nationalism and to try and appear to be doing something,” said John Linnell of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research in Trondheim, Norway and the lead author of the PLOS Biology study."

Political volatility in Turkey and a lack of resolution to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria have Europe on edge. A fence is currently being built along the Bulgarian-Turkish border that will cut through a key wildlife corridor
Romania highway bear
Romania, one of Europe’s poorest nations, badly needs a modern highway system. But conservationists warn that unless the movements of wildlife are accommodated, a planned boom in road construction could threaten one of the continent’s last large brown bear populations. 
"Along the border between Russia and Finland, a barrier is planned that could harm bears, wolves, lynx, wolverines, and forest reindeer. "

These are only excerpts from the full piece. You can click on the link at the beginning of this entry to read the entire article.

18 December 2016

Gifts for Gardeners

Since gardeners come in all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities, shopping for the ones on your list might take a little thinking. These suggestions should help take some of the confusion out of holiday shopping this year.

There are traditional gardeners who love reliable bulbs and perennial flowering shrubs and there are modern gardeners who want this year’s brightest colors and newest hybrids.

Eco-friendly gardeners prefer natural colors, wildlife-friendly and native plantings. A gift list for them could include a birdbath with a heater to keep the water from freezing this winter, bird feeders, solar lights to illuminate the outdoors in every season, or a motion-activated wildlife camera (www.wingscapes.com).

For traditional gardeners on your list who are killing time until spring arrives, a potted Amaryllis bulb (www.gardeners.com) that they can watch grow until it blooms in the spring can be just right. Poinsettias and other indoor plants add cheer to the indoors, too. Borovetz-Carson Greenhouse (3020 North ST in Muskogee) specializes in Poinsettias at this time of year.

Whether you need something for a new or experienced gardener, reading material is always welcome for cold days. 

Books and magazines are loaded with plant identification help and gardening tips. 

Some choices include: Oklahoma Gardener Magazine (888-265-3600), “Late Bloomer: How to Garden with Comfort, Ease and Simplicity in the Second Half of Life” by Jan Coppola Bills, “Oklahoma Gardener’s Guide” by Steve Dobbs, “The Guide to Oklahoma Wildflowers” by Patricia Folley, “Best Garden Plants for Oklahoma” by Steve Owens and Laura Peters, “Compact Guide to Oklahoma Birds” by Cable, Seltman, Kagume and Kennedy, and “Forest Trees of Oklahoma” from the OK Department of  Agriculture and Forestry Services (405-522-6158).

Indoor and outdoor gardeners welcome containers to brighten windowsills, patios and garden beds. 

Consider filling a pretty flower pot with small gifts such as gloves, a new trowel, pruning tools, a CobraHead weeder (www.cobrahead.com), hand cream or bubble bath. Add a colorful bow and you are ready.

There is an old joke among gardeners that a load of manure is a perfectly fine gift and winter is the ideal time for it. Manure has to age before it can be applied to the garden without burning plants and roots. Piling it or spreading it during the winter allows it to become mellow in time for spring planting.

Compost also is a welcome gift. Be sure to include a gift certificate offering help when it is time to spread the compost on the vegetable garden or flower beds.

Part of the reason gardeners love their hobby is because they thrive on being outdoors and most of us enjoy walking in public gardens to enjoy other people’s ideas. Gifts of a garden membership are always welcome.

Possible memberships include: Friends of Honor Heights Park/Papilion Butterfly House ($25 individual membership - www.friendsofhonorheightspark.org), Linnaeus Teaching Gardens at Tulsa Garden Center ($30 membership - www.tulsagardencenter.com), Lendonwood Gardens in Grove ($30 membership - www.lendonwood.com), Tulsa Botanic Garden ($50 membership - www.tulsabotanic.org) and Myriad Botanical Garden ($50 individual/dual membership - oklahomacitybotanicalgardens.com).

If you are handy with wood, wire and tools, most gardeners would appreciate a raised bed, a potting bench, compost bins, garden hods (baskets with wire sides and wood handles for collecting flowers or vegetables), fluorescent light structures and shelves for raising seedlings, or a cold frame made of re-purposed windows.

Waterproof shoes are wonderful for wet garden beds and can be washed off with a hose. All of the farm and garden supply stores sell them in a variety of styles and colors.

Short on cash but have plenty of energy? A gift certificate for help with late winter pruning, mulching and clean-up is sure to please.

11 December 2016

Propaganda Gardening

The will to start life anew can begin anywhere, anytime.

Pam Warhurst's Ted Talk is only 13 minutes long, during which she encourages a revolution in how we interact, use resources and take community, learning and business action. Yes we can is her enthusiastic motto.

Watch How We Can Eat Our Landscapes here.

Three and one half years ago she and her friends invented the idea around her kitchen table: Pam Warhurst co-founded Incredible Edible. Follow them on Facebook here.

Invest in more kindness toward each other and the environment.

They started with a seed plot, grew that into an herb garden. From there a vegetable garden, fruit trees, gardens at police stations and senior homes.

Then, an aquaponics facility at a school where students grow fish that became a market growing center.

Yes, it is replicable! The Ten Steps Toward an Incredible Edible Town are at this link.1. Start with what you have, not what you haven’t.
2. Don’t write a strategy document.
3. Don’t wait for permission.
4. Make it easy.
5. Propaganda planting starts conversations.
6. Make connections.
7. Start now, but think two generations ahead.
8. Rediscover lost skills.
9. Reconnect businesses with their customers.
10. Redesign your town.

Watch the video! Become an activist for food kindness in your communities.

Thank you to Jerry Gustafson, MD, MG for the link to this incredibly exciting story.

04 December 2016

Scout's Guide to Wild Edibles

The new book, "The Scout's Guide to Wild Edibles: learn how to forage, prepare & eat 40 wild foods" by Mike Krebill is being released this month by St. Lynn's Press.

The handy paperback format will make it easy to tuck into a coat pocket or backpack and it's 190 pages loaded with information and recipes.

The author, Mike Krebill was an award winning middle school science teacher for 35 years so, while the book has plenty of detail, it is completely readable.

For each of the 40 plants covered the common and Latin name is provided along with photos of the entire plant and details for identification.

Additional information includes: range, habitat, positive identification tips, edible parts and preparation, when to harvest, sustainable harvesting and preserving the harvest.

Krebill says that he wrote about the 33 plants and 7 mushrooms that are his favorites and are widely found across the US. He included 10 activities that can be used with individuals and groups plus 17 kid-approved recipes.

Recipes include: fruit leather, burdock kinipira, dandelion donuts made with Bisquick, and a garden weed quiche.

This is a well-written and nicely illustrated book that can be used to introduce both scouts and adults to wild edibles.

List price is $19 and it is $13 at online retailers. Just in time for the gift giving season, too.