07/27/19

Ecological art multimedia event in Janko Veselinovic school, Belgrade, Serbia

from Valentina Mirkovic

I want to share with you my impressions and to tell you that we performed our ecological-art event in our school. In fact, it turned into more of a lecture, because we decided to be much more serious this year. The only thing that we didn`t manage to do was to include 4th graders, but that would be something for the next time…

We chose Earth Day as the day for our performance. It was a public class, in the lobby, for all students and teachers. This time, we gave students a more scientific task. One group of children got to work on PP presentations and they had to explore the rainforest as a natural phenomenon from a geographical and biological point of view. And, of course with ecological aspects, in another words, what happens to nature due to pollution, greenhouse effect, global melting… etc. and what might become of our beautiful rainforests all over the world. What species are already extinct and which, unfortunately, will be, very likely…

After that serious and warning introduction, we continued, with a second group of students, and the story of the artistic side of the project. They explained what could be done and that art is one way to focus attention on the growing problem. Here, we devoted more talks about the international children`s art competition, which we`ve participated in for the second year, and about the whole idea of your site “Frogs Are Green” which inspired us.

Some of the kids presented their art works and spoke about the virtual gallery where ours and also artworks of other children from all over the world could be seen. At the end, two girls read your text, in English and Serbian, from the blog, “My green dream.” My colleagues and I thought that this letter is so universal and carries the thoughts that we share. And that would be it! We`re sending photos of all of us who participated and looking forward to some new cooperation and ideas in the future!

One more thing, one request! Could I ask for some sort of confirmation for us as teachers, that we, with our students participated in an international project. They are asking us that from our school administration. I have downloaded certificates for children, but, what do you think, whether they could be used for teachers too? If you think it is ok, then I could use those certificates, just with our names, teachers names… If you have any other idea or suggestion, let me know. In any case, I thank you once again for support and cooperation and I hope for new competitions and ideas about preservation of the living world on our Earth!!!!!

Bye, bye, With All the Best, Valentina (and Sanja, Nevena, Slavica and Zoran. Huge greetings from my collegues too !) p.s. I am the little black haired woman in the middle, with a yellow scarf.

___________________________________________

After receiving this marvelous email we designed the certificates for the Teachers to receive as well!

Teaching certificate for Valentina Mirkovinc from Frogs Are Green!
07/25/18

‘Save All Frogs’ Initiative Launched!

Save All Frogs‘ Initiative Launched!

Matt Ellerbeck – Frog Advocate & Conservationist

Frogs are one of the most diverse forms of herpetofauna in the province of Ontario, boasting more species than turtles, lizards, or salamanders. Yet, there is no outreach education effort solely devoted to these amphibians within the province.

This is unfortunate as many frog species are threatened with extinction. Furthermore, the endangerment of frogs is not exclusive to regions outside of Ontario. Several of the province’s native species are in serious decline.

The Great Lake/St. Lawrence population (east and north of Toronto) of the Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata) is listed as Threatened under the federal Species at Risk Act. The Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri) is even more at risk, being listed as Endangered. Worse still, the diminutive Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans) is considered extinct from Ontario.

More of Ontario’s frogs could also be disappearing, as many species have not yet been properly assessed.

This is what inspired me to launch my Save All Frogs project. With this effort I will be educating individuals throughout the province on why frogs are disappearing, what roles they play in the environment, and most importantly how they can help.

I will be emphasizing as I visit schools, camps, conservation areas and other venues that individuals can become involved with the recovery of frogs via behavioral changes, informed decision making, environmental stewardship actions, and habitat management efforts.

Education has been noted as an effective conservation tool by numerous groups and organizations. The Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy (ARC) states that it recognizes the need to increase awareness, appreciation, and understanding of amphibians, reptiles and their habitats, which can then enhance conservation actions and stewardship practices. The Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust also proclaims that education is one of the most important tools in the long-term conservation of amphibians and reptiles. By raising awareness, enhancing knowledge and encouraging people to take action, real steps can be made towards conserving amphibian and reptile species.

This is why I am committed to educating the public on the plight of frogs!

Save All Frogs - Matt Ellerbeck
 

06/28/18

Salamander from the Rainforest painted on Catch Basin

Update from the corner of Bleecker Street and Central Avenue in Jersey City Heights!

 

Jersey City’s adopt a catch basin program is thriving! It’s very simple. Sign up to take care of a catch basin (storm drain) and the City of Jersey City will assign an artist to paint something original for you. It’s a win-win situation! The city receives help from the public to keep these drains clear of garbage and snow/ice in the winter and we get beautiful artwork that passers by admire. In addition, because they are of an environmental nature, it helps remind the public to keep the streets clean.

Swati Rastogi and Susan Newman salamander catch basin jersey city heights

Last year I noticed a beautiful artwork done by artist Swati Rastogi and requested her as the artist for my second corner (opposite last year’s frog). I was so excited when she contacted me this week because it was time for her to paint the corner.

Here’s what Swati wrote about this project:

“I never knew what a Salamander was until I was asked by the city to paint one at the corner of Central Avenue & Bleecker Street in Jersey City.

Susan Newman who adopted this catch basin has proudly named it “Biodiversity Matters” and is actively letting the residents know about the program.

Honestly this “adopt a catch basin” campaign is making the city much more vibrant and creating awareness for how important it is to keep the sewers clean.

Thank you for choosing me as your artist!.”

– Swati Rastogi

 

I wrote about this program last year in greater detail, so check out the article about the program and why it’s so important.

Adopt a Catch Basin Frog Art

04/22/18

Protecting Amphibians Through Correct Silvicultural Practices

Recent findings indicate that frogs could be going the way of the dinosaurs. Studies by scientists from the US Geological Survey (USGS) depicted that the number of amphibians is shrinking by an average rate of 3.7% yearly. Despite environmentalists championing for the protection of frogs, hosting amphibian themed art exhibitions and releasing publications to educate, among many other efforts, there is still a significant decline in the number of amphibians, especially frogs. Blame pollution, diseases, climate change and more importantly incessant deforestation.

Protecting amphibians and frogs through the correct silvicultural activities in forests helps in ensuring their continuity. While tree harvesting is essential for electricity poles, fuel, the paper industry, and construction, it should not be done in a way that it leads to the loss of amphibian habitats.

Photo by Stefan Steinbauer on Unsplash

The Right Pruning Tools

In forest activities such as pruning, trimming, and the harvesting of firewood, chainsaws are preferably the best tools. Why? Unlike harvesters which fell many trees at a time, chainsaws cut down one tree at a time. This ensures animal habitats are not destroyed during the operation and that seedlings and saplings are protected. These machines are portable making pruning among other activities in various locations easier.

While chainsaws come in different sizes, small chainsaws are preferably the best, especially chainsaws powered by a lithium-Ion battery. These particular type of chainsaws are eco-friendly since they don’t release noxious fumes into the atmosphere when pruning or trimming trees. Furthermore, they don’t cause noise pollution and can be operated easily since they are not heavy. However, when operating a chainsaw it is very important to have the knowledge on how to operate one safely. Other brilliant tools you can use when pruning a tree post include loppers and pole pruners.

Correct Pruning

Pruning is done to remove any overgrown tree branches, stems, and any deformed tree parts. When pruning is done in the correct manner it results in high-quality timber which directly reflects on value and price. Correct pruning, according to A-Absolute Tree Services, involves making sure that a third of the living branches are left after pruning. Right timing on when to prune is critical especially if the area to be pruned is a wildlife shelter. Furthermore, it should be done in a proper way such that the game cover is not destroyed.

Recommended Pruning Techniques

Target pruning is one the best methods of pruning, as stated by Research Gate, since one is able to leave tree parts intact and minimize bole’s tissue damage. Canopy pruning is another recommended pruning technique as it enables light penetration. This allows for the growth of grasses and other plants and this encourages survival of amphibians and frogs. During pruning, the windward side should be taken into consideration as amphibians especially frogs which breathe through their skin, could be easily affected by debris-carrying wind.

Utility Poles

In the United States, most utility poles are made of wood, despite the emergence of steel utility poles. This is because wood is a good insulator and is relatively cheap due to the high availability of trees. Among the trees popularly used are red cedars, Southern yellow pines, and Western yellow pines as they produce straight poles. Poles are selected while still standing in the forest, then the felling process begins.

Most of the times the right procedures and techniques are not used in this process. Unfortunately, flush cutting is observed on pruned trees that are meant for utility poles. Tree topping is also another wrong technique that not only gives an ugly view of the forest but also, has zero considerations for potential wildlife habitats. If the right equipment is not used, the forest environment could be adversely affected. This is why knowledge on the right way of pruning and harvesting trees is key, especially with the high demand for poles and timber.

Amphibians and reptiles make the environment greener. They help in natural pest control and act as food for other wildlife. The contribution of frogs to modern medicine is another reason why frogs are so important. With the above-given statistics, it is evident that more needs to be done in order to care of and protect them. Proper environmental care, especially in the forest, and curbing pollution will go a long way in preserving these species for generations to come.

Written and researched by Jennifer Dawson

06/29/16

Junior Herpetologist of the Year Sarah Brabec

Frogs Are Green is proud to repost this wonderful article sent to us by Lisa and Sarah Brabec. We couldn’t agree more and look forward to hearing from Sarah when she’s closer to us on the East coast!

By Anna Spoerre
Journal Star reporter

BRIMFIELD — To Sarah Brabec, herpetology is more than just the study of reptiles and amphibians, it’s a lifestyle.

On a recent day, the 90-degree weather didn’t seem to bother Brabec, 14, as she waded barefoot through a creek at Jubilee College State Park, a small green net in hand. Two large tadpoles resurfaced with the mesh — an exciting catch for the Junior Herpetologist of the Year at the 2016 International Herpetological Symposium.

“(Herpetology) is more than just a hobby,” Brabec said. “It’s a passion … something I want to spend my life doing.”

Brabec is presenting at the 39th annual International Herpetological Symposium that began Wednesday and runs through Saturday in St. Louis. There, she joins experts in discussions and programs about the scaly, cold-blooded creatures.

Sarah Brebac

“It’s just amazing how much she’s been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time,” said Jill Wallace, an environmental educator at Sugar Grove Nature Center in McLean, where Brabec likes to visit with her family.

When she was 6, Brabec joined the Central Illinois Herpetological Society. During her time there she’s presented in front of hundreds of people and helped to start a junior program within the society, said Doug Holmes, president of the society.

She said last year’s international conference in Austin, Texas — which she participated in as a runner-up — taught her that herpetology is about more than saving frogs. It’s about helping to promote public interest, she said, which falls in line with increasingly popular education-based global sustainability practices.

“The key need in conservation success is education of younger kids,” Brabec said.

Sarah Brebac examines amphibian

She began teaching children to conserve and save animals in Peoria, going into classrooms and talking to grade-schoolers about reptiles. Sometimes she brings her favorite creatures along to engage the students.

“You can hold frogs in your hands,” Brabec said. “Kids can really connect to that.”

She would know. Brabec’s mother, Lisa Brabec, said she started chasing reptiles when she was 4, always returning home with a new animal hidden behind her back.

“When they find their passion, feed it,” said Lisa Brabec, who often takes her daughter exploring at nearby creeks and ponds.

When asked about some of the more interesting moments that come with having a house full of reptiles and amphibians, she said with a chuckle, “my Mother’s Day gift went missing one year.”

Sixth months later they found the runaway snake hiding between their kitchen cabinets. Despite this, Lisa Brabec said she’s grown fonder of all slimy, slithery creatures her daughter introduces to the family.

“My parents are troopers,” the younger Brabec said with a smile.

Last year, Sarah Brabec even began writing a children’s book with a local herpetologist. But, the project has been put on hold.

“I learned that all it takes for kids is adults who think they’re capable,” Lisa Brabec said.

Though Sarah Brabec said she doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do in the future, she said saving wildlife is crucial, and she wants to continue playing a role in that endeavor.

In the meantime, she and her family are preparing to move to Atlanta later this summer, where Sarah Brabec said she’s excited to find eastern narrow mouth toads.

“You can just tell some kids are really hooked,” Holmes said. “I think eventually she’ll make a career out of it.”

Anna Spoerre can be reached at 686-3296 and aspoerre@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/annaspoerre.

04/27/16

The Bully of All Toads

Currently in Madagascar there is a bully. But, this is not your typical bully. This bully is the Asian toad, also known as Duttaphrynus melanostictus. The toads are threatening rare wildlife and frightening locals.

Madagascar provides a niche-like haven for these primarily lowland dwelling toads. Photo © Arthur Chapman Courtesy of Amphibians.org - Amphibian Survival Alliance.

Madagascar provides a niche-like haven for these primarily lowland dwelling toads. Photo © Arthur Chapman Courtesy of Amphibians.org – Amphibian Survival Alliance.

The theory on how they got to Madagascar is that they hitched a ride in some shipping containers from Asia between 2007 -2010. While Madagascar doesn’t have native toads, people who saw these bullies roaming knew something was wrong. And still no one knows why they have decided to make Madagascar their new home.

These toads are endangering locals, harming snakes, lemurs and exotic animals that are unique to the island. If they feed off these toads they will be poisoned, since these toads are known to be very poisonous. Smaller animals can shrink in size and as species, become extinct.

Asian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in Madagascar by Franco Andreone.

Asian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in Madagascar by Franco Andreone.

Scientists are still trying to come up with ideas on how to get rid of these toads and such measures wouldn’t be horribly expensive. It would cost about $2 million to $10 million (the effort would need only a wealthy backer from the West) — but that’s really just a guess. No one knows exactly where the toads are or precisely how many are in Madagascar. There’s no easy way to find them, and there’s no quick method of dispatching them, at least not in the numbers necessary for eradication.

And then there’s the fact that no one has tried to remove invasive toads on such a scale before. There have been three successful removal projects, but they were all in much smaller areas.

Asian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in Madagascar by Franco Andreone, close up

Asian Toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in Madagascar by Franco Andreone, close up.

So it looks like eradication won’t be possible, the scientists conclude, at least without a lot more research that would let managers and the government overcome many hurdles. And by that time, the toads will probably have become so numerous that, like in Australia, any such efforts would be impossible.

 
Leight-Ann BradyGuest post by Leigh-Ann Brady, who resides in NJ with her 8 year son. She is an artist and writer who is also concerned about the environment.