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

03/19/16

The Perfect Pond for You and the Environment

Garden’s say a lot about their owners. You can see a reflection of the owner’s personality in how their garden is presented. If you see a garden that is frequently maintained and full of life and colour it’s more likely that the owner is a keen gardener, or maybe just has the time to dedicate towards the garden’s maintenance. If you see a garden that is lost and overgrown, then a sense of organisation may spring to mind. The overall look of a garden can also determine the way people look at a house as a whole. The garden is a key element in the overall image and it’s vital to make sure your garden gives viewers the message you wish them to receive. There are so many ways in which you can make your garden stand out amongst the rest, and a perfect way is to add features that are different and exciting. Ponds are a traditional feature that have been around for years. Many people look at ponds and instantly say no to the idea simply because they think that they are more trouble than they’re worth. What people don’t realise is that ponds are actually very useful for pest management, wildlife sanctuaries and also just look great in your garden. They’re easy to maintain and cost efficient, too. There are many different types of ponds you can choose from to ensure you get the perfect pond for your garden.

garden pond lush green and beautiful

When deciding on the type of pond you wish to go for, think about whether you want your pond to be in ground, above ground or partly in ground. Your decision should depend entirely on your garden and what will suit it best. If you have children you may also wish to consider an above ground pond, as this eliminates the risk of anybody falling in or going for a quick swim with the fish. Having an above ground pond also enables you to create your own display, you can use coloured tiles to surround the pond bed and grow plants around the area. Alternatively, if you wanted to go for an in ground or partly in ground pond you can consider the way in which you wish to display this, consider how you wish to contain, surround and line the pond. You can always make the decision that suits your garden type. There is no specific choice when it comes to the details of your pond design, which is another reason why they are so great.

Once you’ve decided on the type of pond you wish to go for, how you will line and contain it, and determined the size of the area, this will determine the wildlife that appears. Ponds are vital when it comes to wildlife, and you can guarantee that your pond will become the centre of attention for beautiful creatures like dragonflies, house martens, ducklings, frogs and more. You could have a range of beautiful fish living in your pond, to add a little excitement but also to encourage other wildlife to visit. Ensuring you feed them and maintain the water, keeping fish is a perfect way to make the most out of your pond, plus they’re like extra pets that you can keep checking on and watch, as they grow in your own garden.

When it comes to the maintenance of the pond there is little you need to do. You must ensure you keep on top of the weeds and algae; you will find most animals living in the pond will use these for hiding so be extra careful when weeding or cleaning these plants. You can use a net to remove excessive, such as leaves, dirt and dead flies. Removing the dead flies will however be done for you by certain animals living in or around the pond. For example, dragonflies and house martens will spend their time swooping down and removing the flies from the ponds surface, along with frogs and toads that will clear the water surface of any tasty little flies they can get hold of.

By Nikolaj Potanin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Nikolaj Potanin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, you can consider the overall presentation of your pond. The design of a pond is important for both appearance as well as wildlife. Designing your pond to suit your home is key. You can surround your pond with shrubbery and plants to create your own little sanctuary. Growing plants around the pond may also encourage animals to create a new habitat in the plants or water surrounding. Lighting is another great feature to consider, whether you opt for in-water lighting or lights to surround the pond, they will be a huge benefit to both your gardens aesthetic as well as the nature surrounding the pond. When fitting the lights, remember to use a weatherproof junction box to ensure that you have safe fittings and the lights are protected from any weather. Lighting will add a glamorous effect and highlight your new garden feature, making it stand out and look great. Why not add other little items such as gnomes, fairy figures or magical fantasy items. These are a little bit of fun but also add character and excitement to the pond and its surroundings.

Guest blog by Jasmine Smith.

 

Additional posts from Frogs Are Green on Ponds:

https://frogsaregreen.org/keeping-your-pond-alive/

https://frogsaregreen.org/attracting-newts-to-your-pond/

https://frogsaregreen.org/pond-maintenance-tips-for-keeping-wildlife-at-your-pond/

 

 

01/19/16

Protect and Save Liberty State Park

When you live in a city like Jersey City, you yearn for some open space. We’re fortunate to have Liberty State Park nearby. A beautiful park where you can ride your bicycle for miles, and see nature all around, as well as majestic views of the Statue of Liberty, skyline of Manhattan, ships coming up and down the Hudson River, and breathe some fresh air.

The park is just behind Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, and as you ride your bicycle the views continually change, each more breathtaking than the next.

I would hate to see development that doesn’t belong there, ruin such a pristine place.

Please sign the Petition to Save Liberty State Park which will tell Governor Christie that we want our park to stay just as is, so we can continue to enjoy it freely.

Susan Newman in Liberty State Park Bicycle riding

More Details via NY/NJ Baykeeper about Liberty State Park:

The governor’s recent proposals to lease public parkland to private developers for large-scale commercial projects would destroy the beloved park behind Lady Liberty and Ellis Island.

With public open space already so scarce in one of the nation’s most densely populated regions, we can’t let that happen. For forty years, overwhelming public consensus has consistently rejected exactly these kinds of commercialization and privatization efforts.

There’s a reason LSP is known as “The People’s Park” – we’ve won these battles before, and we can win again. But only with your help.

Please sign the Petition to Save Liberty State Park

#SaveLSP Liberty State park aerial view with Miss Liberty

#SaveLSP – Liberty State Park aerial view with Miss Liberty courtesy of Liberty State Park.

 

01/22/15

Irwin Quagmire Wart, Frog Book Author for Children

Irwin Quagmire Wart - frog author for childrenPlease introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your mission and goals.

I’m a frog so I’ve always been interested in our health and welfare. I have a baby brother and young cousins so I want to see our habitats preserved for them and for all future generations.

What is your educational background and what lead to sharing “The Land of of Lily Pad?”

I’m sorry to admit it, I have no formal education, but I’m loaded with street smarts… swamp smarts, if you prefer. Even though my name is Irwin Quagmire, lots of people know me by my initials, IQ because I am a very smart frog. I began writing books in 2011, after my first trip to France. Since then, I have written three other books, including a book on environmental stewardship for kids. After all, who knows more about being green than a frog!

Do you travel to exotic places and if yes, tell us about some of them.

The most exotic place I’ve been to is my home… Land of Lily Pad. It’s the most fabulous frog pond on earth… where humans are not allowed. So it’s still a beautiful, healthy, safe environment. Otherwise, I’ve only traveled a little in the US and Europe.

Irwin Quagmire's lily pad home

Please share your books and/or publications?

I have written, as I said before, four books:
Irwin Quagmire Wart Travels to Paris, France… a kid’s guide to the City of Lights
Irwin Quagmire Wart Travels Back in Time… a kid’s guide to life in Pioneer America
Green is Good… a kid’s guide to environmental stewardship
Perfectly Perfect – a rhyming book for young children that embraces the idea of self-acceptance and self-love no matter what you look like

What are some challenges you have faced and how did you deal with them?

I’m luckier than a lot of frogs. My family and friends have a clean, safe home. My biggest challenge is where to find the juiciest flies… all kidding aside, I am trying really, really hard to get my message out to the world and to get my books published. But it’s hard and very competitive.

What can people do to help? Donate, and contribute to your cause?

It would be helpful if my message and my website got promoted more. And it would be a dream to find a real publisher or literary agent… but I’m not holding my breath.

“Ask not what your swamp can do for you but what you can do for your swamp”… Irwin Quagmire Wart (and maybe John F. Kennedy). I believe this whole-heartedly and want to help your organization as much as I am able. I am planning on including a link to your website on mine: on the page, Irwin’s Favorite Things. If there’s more I can do, please let me know. My amanuensis can write pretty well and is very willing to contribute whatever she/we can.

Lily Pad environment of Irwin Q. Wart

How do you reach your targeted audience?
Is it through your website, advertising or social media or another route? Which is most effective and why?

I have a Facebook page: Irwin Quagmire Wart
A website: http://www.irwinquagmirewart.com/
Twitter account: @IrwinQWart
So far, none of them are effective but I am hoping that through Twitter, and reaching out to other frogs and frog-related people, I can drive more traffic to my website… and eventually, my books.

How do you keep the audience engaged over time?

I update my website often and try to include subjects that will be of interest to kids and adults, but are also near and dear to my heart; the environment is my big passion.

Tell us about your events around the world and some of the campaigns you have started.

None yet, but I have big plans…

What is in the works for the future? What haven’t you yet tackled, but will want to do soon?

My goal is to write a series of travel books for kids, focusing on unique world locations, both large and small. I believe that through travel, both children and frogs can learn that differences in appearance and culture are both good and interesting. By helping children to “see the world” (through a frog’s eyes) as a beautiful, non-scary place filled with interesting people, beautiful art, and amazing things to see and do, I hope to make the world seem a little smaller and certainly a place that needs protecting.
Land of Lily Pads

08/10/14

Gecko In Turks & Caicos

The island of Providenciales in Turks & Caicos is one of my favorite vacation spots and I have been there many times. The sand is pinkish white and as soft as talcum powder. The sea is the perfect color of turquoise and crystal clear. When you enter the water all you see are little fish and if lucky, while swimming, the local dolphin that comes over to greet visitors.

Turks & Caicos beach plants and sea beyond. Photo by Susan Newman

Turks & Caicos beach plants and sea beyond. Photo by Susan Newman

On one of my trips as I was unpacking my things, I noticed a little gecko in my room and just left him to wander around. At the time, I didn’t know that much about them, but he/she was so cute, I didn’t bother it. Over the next few days, my friends were complaining about the mosquitoes and kept asking me, how come you aren’t bitten up like we are? I didn’t really know.

This went on for days until I told them about the little gecko in my room, who like to come inside where the temperature is to their liking and are safe from predators. OH! They said, it’s eating the mosquitoes in your room, that’s why you aren’t having the problem we are.

Tropical House Gecko (Hemidactylus mabouia) by  Thomas Brown

Tropical House Gecko (Hemidactylus mabouia) by Thomas Brown

Well, it is many years later and I know more about geckos, salamanders and frogs. I wanted to share this little story because most people wonder how the decline of frogs and amphibians directly effects them. As you can see, just one gecko in my room on vacation, made all the difference for me having a more comfortable trip than my friends. Just imagine how insects will bother us if there are no frogs or geckos around to eat them?

07/9/14

Eco-Interview: Allison Green, Painting Nature – Jersey City Artist

Frogs Are Green founder, Susan Newman interviews Allison Green about her large-scale, exquisite paintings of nature. Here’s what Allison shares with us:

Allison Green, Jersey City Fine Artist in her Studio

It’s hard to say exactly why I paint nature – but I am sure that it roots from my childhood life in Pennsylvania, where I grew up in a house on the perimeter of a lush forest. Memories of a childhood which revolved around nature are deep within me, especially today, as I have been living in the city for the last 20 years. Sometimes I wonder if I paint nature because I long for those lush forests of my childhood, or if it is the stories in those trees which still resonate so deep with in that I feel the need to let them out. Or, maybe it’s a combination of both.

April Roses, 2013 - Oil on Canvas, 48" x 48"

April Roses, 2013 – Oil on Canvas, 48″ x 48″

These days, while I still love exploring vast forest and other pristine terrain, I have become most inspired  by urban nature – from cultivated gardens like the High Line and the New York Botanical Garden, to the wildest of plant life that seems to sprout everywhere throughout the city and streets.

My inspiration often comes from the smallest details of a plant, such as the complex anatomy of a tiny, overlooked weed, the gnarled bark on an old, giant tree in the park, or those resilient vines growing up the sides of buildings in the summertime.

Eve, 2010 - Oil on Canvas, 30" x 24"

Eve, 2010 – Oil on Canvas, 30″ x 24″

In my most recent paintings, I’ve also become fascinated with the delicate and complex reproductive relationships between plants and insects. A swarm of bees pollinating a pair of desirable lotus flowers, while mating snails hide within an ever-evolving rose bush are examples of new imagery in which I seek to capture the magical and surreal natural world.

In addition, I’ve become fascinated by the way all life forms change, evolve and become something very different along the way. “Everything Changes”, my latest series, documents different phases in a plant’s life cycle, along with depicting insect/plant relationships.

Pollinate Me (lotus flowers with pollinating bees) 2014, Oil on Canvas, 60"x72"

Pollinate Me (lotus flowers with pollinating bees) 2014, Oil on Canvas, 60″x72″

Nature is such an amazing, endless source of inspiration. And as humans are putting it in jeopardy in so many different ways, it has become an even more important subject in my mind. Whether it be to find beauty in a simple weed, cherish a neighborhood tree, or to realize the perfection of most common little bug,  I hope that my work can inspire someone to look at plant life and all of nature in a new way every day.

— Allison Green, Jersey City Artist

 

Lovers, 2010 - Oil on Canvas, 60" x 48"

Lovers, 2010 – Oil on Canvas, 60″ x 48″

Currently Allison resides and works in downtown Jersey City, where she creates large-scale oil paintings. Her first solo exhibition, “Deeply Rooted”, opened in March 2011 at Susan Eley Fine Art in New York City. A second solo show at SEFA, “Entwined”, opened in September 2012 and features a fully illustrated catalog with an essay by Lilly Wei. Green’s work is now included in the Brooklyn Museum Elizabeth Sackler Feminist Art Base, and her paintings were recently exhibited at PULSE NY in spring 2013.

Green holds a BA from the University of Maryland with a concentration in Fine Art and Women’s Studies. She also studied at Studio Art Centers International (SACI) in Florence, Italy in 1995.

Sienna Thicket (Thicket #4) 2011, - Oil on Canvas, 48" x 48"

Sienna Thicket (Thicket #4) 2011, – Oil on Canvas, 48″ x 48″