Tags: ecology

London’s Olympic Park features ecologically-based design approach

Though the 2012 Olympic Games have come to a close, the landscape of London’s East End has been dramatically transformed for the long-term utilizing a ecologically-based design approach that has much in common with the Freshkills Park master plan.

According to The Dirt, nearly 250 acres of formerly-industrial land were turned into a beautiful setting for the Olympic venues inspired by Victorian and post-war English pleasure and festival gardens.

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The Undeniable Benefits of Urban Trees

It is inarguable that trees are an integral component of a healthy life. Despite this fact, the case for trees in urban environments needs to be continually proven in order to prevent their elimination. As Atlantic Cities reports, the City of San Diego is setting an excellent precedent by collecting data which demonstrates the overwhelmingly positive mental and physical effects of trees on densely populated environments.

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‘Mussel Raft’ aides water filtration

An interesting experiment in water pollution management is taking place in the Bronx River estuary near Hunts Point in New York City. Scientists are testing the use of a ‘Mussel Raft’ for addressing nitrogen pollution from treated sewage that ends up in the water from a nearby treatment facility.

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New smartphone app tracks invasive plant species

Recently, UK scientists and environmental organizations teamed up to create a smartphone app that allows users to track invasive plant species. PlantTracker “tells people how to spot invasive plants and lets them snap geo-tagged pictures of the species and submit them to the organizations to better help them manage the populations.” This crowd-sourced tool was developed by the UK’s Environment Agency, along with the Nature Locator project at Bristol University and the National Environmental Research Council’s Center for Hydrology and Ecology.

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Threatened coastal seagrasses supply more carbon storage than forests

New research shows coastal seagrass store up to twice the amount of carbon as above-ground forests, but are being threatened by dredging and water pollution, among other factors. Treehugger reports on the global analysis by Nature Geoscience showing seagrass can store “83,000 metric tons of carbon per square kilometer, versus 30,000 tons for a typical forest” and “29% of all historic seagrass meadows have been destroyed, primarily due to dredging and water pollution, with 1.5% of seagrass meadows destroyed each year.” The recent release of the New York City Wetland Strategy appears particularly timely in light of these findings.

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City outlines strategy to protect and create wetlands

Mayor Bloomberg and several City of New York agencies recently released The Wetland Strategy report, which outlines plans to protect and improve city waterways. The report contains strategies to address goals in PlaNYC 2030. Among the 12 initiatives are plans to:

  • invest $48 million in projects that restore and enhance nearly 127 acres of wetlands and neighboring areas,
  • add 75 acres of wetland to the New York City Parks system,
  • create the natural areas conservancy to encourage a public-private partnership for wetlands management,
  • create a wetlands mitigation banking or in-lieu fee mechanism for public projects.
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NYC Wildflower Week: Tour the Greenbelt Native Plant Center, Monday May 14

Starting this weekend, NYC Wildflower Week presents a terrific series of events focused on New York’s open space and rich native plant communities. To celebrate, our partners at the Greenbelt Native Plant Center on Staten Island are welcoming the public next Monday, May 14, on a tour of their facilities.

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Eel populations return to Staten Island

Eel populations are making a comeback in the metropolitan region and along the eastern seaboard.  After years of rehabilitation of the area’s waterways, eel populations are showing signs of a resurgence in Staten Island.

Joining the work of the American Eel Research Project, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection has set up a testing site in Staten Island’s Richmond Creek, one of the improved waterways.

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Bioswales and green infrastructure for New York

The future of green infrastructure within the New York metropolitan region just got brighter: NY State and City officials announced this week that over $2 billion in public and private investments would be committed to ecologically-sound techniques for the management of stormwater runoff and sewage overflow.

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A century of wetland restoration efforts


A recent analysis of wetland restoration efforts sheds new light on the success of a 100-year history of such work to reclaim these highly important ecosystems. Restoration has been a major undertaking in recent decades as development has damaged and otherwise claimed over half of the wetlands in areas like North America, Europe, Australia, and China.

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Progress at Brookfield, Staten Island’s other landfill

Progress continues at Staten Island’s Brookfield Avenue Landfill, a 132-acre site in the Great Kills neighborhood, just east of the Freshkills Park site. The second phase of construction is under way and should be complete by 2013. As with other landfill remediation projects in New York City, the city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will oversee completion of the cap, barrier walls and leachate collection system.

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Island landfill a triumph, but also a possible risk

The New York Times reports on Pulau Semakau, the island that serves as Singapore’s only landfill–and one of its premier eco-tourism destinations.  Solid waste is incinerated on mainland Singapore and sent to the island via covered barges. The ash is then transferred by truck into an active “cell,” which has been sectioned off and emptied of sea water.

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New York, new bees

Four new species of bees have been identified in New York State. Among them is  Lasioglossum gotham, discovered at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, as small as a grain of rice. It burrows its home underground. The species was distinguished  from other tiny look-alikes through DNA bar coding and digital imaging.

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Parks Department’s Johnny Appleseed profiled

The New York Times profiles Ed Toth, Director of the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation’s Greenbelt Native Plant Center (GNPC), a greenhouse and nursery operation that provides seed and plant material for restoration projects across the city’s 1,700 parks. 

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Tour Freshkills Park with an expert this Sunday

Over the course of the various stages of its history, a wide range of professionals have spent time working on or thinking about the Freshkills Park site: sanitation workers, engineers, equipment manufacturers, scientists, policymakers, architects, designers, artists, philanthropists. There are countless layers of expertise to mine in understanding the site. 

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New sewage overflow protections for Jamaica Bay

The NYC Department of Environmental Protection has announced a $400 million upgrade to the 26th Ward Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) in Brooklyn that will reduce the amount of untreated sewage overflow entering Jamaica Bay  during storm events by 1.2 billion gallons a year.

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Next Freshkills Park Talk: Tuesday, June 14th

The Freshkills Park Talks lecture series continues next Tuesday with a presentation by elementary school science teacher Howard Warren.  Out of sheer interest and commitment, Howard has become one of the City’s leading experts on the history and present condition of Barren Island and Dead Horse Bay, at the southeastern corner of Brooklyn. 

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Everglades tree islands made from historic garbage

Maybe the earliest landfill-to-park precedent we’ve come across yet: archeological evidence in southwest Florida indicates that many of the “tree islands” of Everglades National Park—marsh islands supporting terrestrial vegetation—have developed from refuse piles from over 5,000 years ago. Credit for the early landfill operations is given to the now-extinct Calusa tribe, who deposited bones, shells, charcoal, and other ancient garbage in middens upon which they could settle, hunt or fish.

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Study examines wildlife-friendly biofuel crops

A two-year study at Michigan State University finds that growing native prairie grasses for biofuel harvesting is more beneficial to wildlife populations than monoculture stands of corn. The research team, headed by biologist Bruce Robertson, attempted to identify ecologically sound biofuel alternatives that are as cost-effective as corn, which is currently the primary feedstock for deriving ethanol in the US.

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The Society for Ecological Restoration speaks

The Dirt recently provided a thorough review of presentations made at this year’s Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) conference.  The conference focused on “novel ecosystems”—new combinations of species that result from the influence of people—and the issues restoration ecologists must consider in the face of unrelenting urbanization. 

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