The Urban Green Plan
Bio 1M03 L32 – 05
The Urban Green Plan
The existence of many species being threatened since human expansion has become a major issue on both a local and a global scale. Endangerment and extinction of numerous organisms have strained the biodiversity within urban cities. Expansion of land use by humans have left a minimal amount of fragmented natural habitats that can only support a limited number of species, most of which seem to be small. Moving into the city, there is a consistent trend of physical changes that occur towards the city core (McKinney, 2002).
These trends are “heat, air pollution, soil densities, soil alkalinity, and rainfall (McKinney, 2002).” These factors contribute to the overall environment around the city. According to McKinney (2002), as the city transitions towards the core of the city, the loss of habitats increases which demonstrates a direct relationship between expansion and loss of biodiversity. Not all habitats are lost, rather they are split into four different sub categories of significantly smaller habitats which are: built habitats, managed vegetation, ruderal vegetation and natural remnant vegetation (McKinney, 2002).
The number of species found in the center core of cities is less than half the species found in more rural and even wild environments. McKinney (2002) uses an example cited to Blair (2001) which was on the study of birds in Palo Alto, California as a compare and contrast of the number of species in the area. This research showed that there were seven summer resident birds in the city core compared to twenty-one that are found outside the city core. The urbanization causes a homogenization of species because non-native species have out-competed and therefore replaced native species (Alvey, A. 2006).
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This has many adverse biological ramifications because the loss of biodiversity is related to the loss of genetic diversity. If one local population becomes extinct, then a species has lost some of the genetic diversity that makes adaptation. Then, the loss of genetic variation can lead to extinction. Each species has certain unique genes, and biodiversity represents the sum of all the genomes of all organisms on Earth. Ultimately, if genetic diversity is lost, the biodiversity is automatically lost as well. For example, if a plant or animal become extinct in the biosphere, it cannot be replaced back and diversity of that particular gene cannot be reproduced either. Therefore, the genetic diversity should be conserved in order to deter the loss of biodiversity. One way to do that is by gene flow. If gene flow occurs on the Arcadian Flycatcher, it will allow similar genes to migrate from one population to another. This decreases genetic variability although mutation in the genes may recover the variability that was lost.
The biodiversity crisis is an important issue because reduced diversity may eliminate options to use untapped resources for food production, industry and medicine. For example, when we eliminate the variety of species, humans may become more prone to viruses. Furthermore, the food chain is destroyed because when the number of extinct species increases, the predators of those particular species no longer have prey which is a direct threat to them as well. This effects humans because humans rely on the ecosystem that is now being destroyed, therefore; biodiversity affects the ecosystem by making it more resistant to invasive species and viruses. If biodiversity loss can be slowed by increasing the amount of native species, the ecosystem will be fastened. Scientists estimate that currently there may be between 10 and 30 million species on Earth and they all contribute to stabilizing the ecosystem and even in people’s daily life (Bay, 2007).
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For example, all of our food and most medicines are developed from plants, bacteria, and fungi which means the loss of biodiversity is a threat to humans. It is therefore important to increase the biodiversity building reserves, and changing the policy on local, regional, and global scales. If the ability to make medicines ceases due to the extinction of certain bacteria or fungi, there may be an increase of diseases in the future. Effects and cost to decrease biodiversity can be measured on the global scale by observing the trends of viruses and biodiversity.
This method of conservation is based on an urban level, and the goals are to increase the biodiversity and the rehabilitation of endangered species within urban areas. This can be done by increasing the native species by planting more of their native trees at the same time expanding local parks and educating the public on endangered species and conservation. This is a challenge to find a link between how other species and humans can exist in the same habitat. Many conservation areas are built outside local cities such as Toronto because it seems that it has become an inconvenience for people to live incoherence with a variety of species. The idea in this solution is that people will live with and be educated on endangered species and understand how urban sprawl actually causes the destruction of many habitats. However the cost, the timeline of implementation and biological ramifications must also be considered as well.
An important solution is to educate the public. A study by Jacobson,S.K.,& Marynowski, S.B. (1997) showed that citizens who live around an ecosystem are more aware and educated on the native species than citizens who do not. That is why it is important to incorporate public education and have the public be able to live around the environment so that they can also be more familiar with the species. The solution again should increase the biodiversity of this species in hopes on increasing the gene flow with the other species found in the United States.
Increasing the amount of native species, the habitats can be built simply from their most basic components which is by planting native trees. For example the arcadian flycatcher is very selective to nuttall oak (Quercus nuttallii) and possumhaw (Ilex decidua) trees for nesting (Wilson R. and Cooper J.).
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If these trees are planted there are more nesting areas and options for these birds, there is a greater chance that their population size will increase. Expanding the local parks would help with the biodiversity mainly because smaller fragmented habitats can only contain a small amount of species and are very species specific. An example is at McMaster University where there are small patches of grass. One can observe that the only species that are able to cohabitate on these small patches are raccoons, squirrels and a few birds. Since larger parks can support more life, it would lead to an increase in biodiversity as well (Alvey, A., 2006).
A combined solution of expanding parks with native trees would bring the native birds back to their original environments and give the species a larger habitat that may be able to fill it’s ecological niches and act as a breeding ground to allow for their populations to grow.
The implementation of this conservation plan will ultimately be determined by it’s monetary costs. This will be a long-term solution that will require long-term costs, resulting in larger costs. The solution is to expand local parks. According to the City of Toronto building or extending Group A types of facilities, such as local parks costs $23.24 per meter squared and therefore, four million dollars to be set aside to expand these local parks is optimal. The city of Toronto has had a tree planting program since 1999 and thus far has used 1.5 million dollars to plant native trees, this would roughly be the same cost of planting the possumhaw trees which can survive in the soil pH found in most of Toronto. The market wholesale price for this tree is about twenty dollars for ten trees (DNT Nursery, 2008) so it is reasonable that 1.5 million dollars be used to buy and replant these trees in local parks to try and bring back the Arcadian flycatcher. The total cost of this project could range to about 8 million dollars over the next 20 years. However, this price does not include the cost it would take to import trees from the United States.
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According to Alan Watson Featherstone (2008) and Garden Guides.com (2008), it can take a nuttal oak trees 40-50 years to produce viable seeds and 20 years for possumhaws to reach maturity respectively. This signifies that the timeline for this solution to be effective may take at least 20 years.
The subject matter is that of endangered species and therefore; would involve the federal level of government. It would be necessary for the federal government to put more money into the environment and the rehabilitation of endangered species. After which, money would have to be subdivided for different provinces so taxes may result in an increase. By increasing taxes on building and industry expansions, urban sprawl and clear cutting may be discouraged. If expansion is still necessary, then the money collected from taxes would be used for the recovery of species and habitats that were destroyed. This would be done by strengthening another local habitat nearby by simply planting vegetation that is native to that habitat.
It’s our responsibility to restore the loss of biodiversity, especially native species such as the acadian flycatcher. The government needs to help plan out solutions as well, but more importantly, there should be more global awareness and education for the increased rate of endangerment and extinction leading to the loss of biodiversity. For example, investment in public education, infrastructure, and poverty reduction can make major strides toward protection and conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity. A study by Kinzig et al. (2005) showed that as the socioeconomic status of people increase the biodiversity in the residential areas also increased. The government needs to invest towards public education so that people would be more inclined to volunteer in helping plant these native trees. An example is in Sweden where they have a red listed plant the Dryopteris cristata L. and Buxbaumia viridis (Alvey, A.).
In Stolkholm urban green spaces contain two thirds of the red listed plants (Alvey, A.).
So it is possible for government to invest in building green spaces to help endangered species.
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Planting native trees, such as nuttall oak (Quercus nuttallii) and possumhaw (Ilex decidua) that are favoured by specific species such as the arcadian flycatcher will aid in the prevention of their extinction (Wilson R. and Cooper J.).
However, according to data from USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), most of these native trees are distributed in south-eastern part of United States, but not much in Ontario, Canada. The data also illustrates that these trees grow the best in slightly acidic soil, pH level in a range between approximately 4.5 and 5.5. On the other side, data from Toronto Botanical Garden shows that soil in Ontario is in a range between 6.0 and 7.5, which suggests that Nuttall oak trees cannot adapt to the soil in Ontario (United States Department of Agriculture).
Also, nuttall oak trees are distinguished as endangered species in United States. In order to transplant nuttall oak trees to soil in Ontario, the pH level of the soil would need to be lowered. Decreasing the pH level in the soil would naturally take approximately thousands of years and this process requires massive organic matters; hence, by adding sulphur to the soil, the process will be more rapid (Vossen).
Studies suggest that once nuttall oak trees are planted, it presents the characteristics of great surviving throughout the ranges of areas, and fast growth rate, if the conditions are met (Gwaze 2003).
Therefore, adjusting pH level of Ontario soil will help to transplant nuttall oak trees. In contrast, possumhaw trees (Ilex deciduas) tend to grow in pH level range approximately between 4.5 to 6.0 which signifies that this species of tree has the ability grow in the soil found in Ontario. Not only do possumhaw trees fit the range of pH, they also are able to adapt to many types of soils such as coarse, fine and medium textured soils.
Adding sulphur to soil may also have some negative biological ramifications. According to Balance Agri-Nutrients, if the soil is waterlogged, then sulphur can react to form hydrogen sulphide and be released into the atmosphere which aids in global warming. Also, if the soil is coarse enough and there is enough water, sulphur could be drained into local bodies of water. Lastly, if the pH of the soil is too low, trees such as the possumhaw may not be able to survive.
Another biological ramification of planting trees such as the nuttall oak would be the increase in pests. A pest that particularly enjoys oak trees is the gypsy moth according to Tree Help.com. If the population of this pest gets out of control with the increase in oak trees planted, it could lead to tree damage, defoliation and ultimately weakens the trees to insects and diseases. This pest is only found in south-eastern Canada and north-eastern U.S so it is imperative that where these trees are planted does not allow these pests to migrate to other parts of the North America.
... species being unknown, making soil the most abundant ecosystem on ... diluting the more developed upper layers. Some soils may contain up to one million species of microbes per gram, most of those ... Earth. Characteristics Soil color is often the ...
Where this solution differs from other solutions is that it rebuilds original habitat in the area. The ESA (Endangered species act) is ineffective because it uses the single species approach (Clark, W., Reading, R., Clarke, A. 1994) which is ineffective because it only focuses on the species at the time and solving the problem temporarily. It does not focus on ecosystem loss which is extremely important because if the ecosystem is destroyed then habitat and everything associated with it is lost. Urban reforesting focuses on restoring the ecosystem that may have been once there. For example by planting more of the native plants such as the nutall oak and possumhaw, which are the native trees that the Arcadian Flycatcher nest in. The goal is to have the native birds return and have more breeding area and integrate with the urban environment as well. The single species approach of conservation may not work as well as this solution because it also does not consider the predator and prey of these species as urban reforesting does. By bringing back these different species natural selection should also be more effective, rather than traditional conservation which mainly uses artificial selection. (Clark, T. et al, 1994).
The trees that will be planted for these birds would be imported from southern United States because the birds are selective towards the nuttall oak and possumhaw. By importing possumhaw we may rescue this endangered tree because we can increase the genetic variability and gene flow of this species in Ontario. By doing so we can also increase the biodiversity back in the area for the Arcadian flycatcher.
The solution is a feasible one because if Canada’s government allowed for 1.5 million dollars to be spent of tree planting and expansion, then thousands of trees could be planted each year. The organization that would be responsible for ensuring that this increase in vegetation leads to conservation of biodiversity is Canada’s national wildlife agency. This is an agency that works for the federal government on wildlife conservation. Having the government in charge of this environmental change is convenient because with regards to expansion, the government would simply be planting trees on it’s own the land.
The solution can be implemented because it can be done in many areas in the Unites States of America such as Colorado and California. This is because it ensures the conservation and restoration of vegetation and thus decreases the biodiversity loss.
This solution is a simple one. If the federal government put more monetary cost into re-establishing natural habitats within urban cities, then biodiversity may not be lost at such an irate rate. By planting trees such as the nuttal oak and the possumhaw, that is, ones that are favoured by endangered species such as the arcadien flycatcher, such species would have more breeding ground and more ability to generate gene flow. Another seemingly simple solution is the education of the public. If the federal government attempted to show awareness to it’s citizens, then it is possible that everyone would try to fix what is now being destroyed which is our environment.
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