Posts tagged with “Ecosystem Management” (All posts)

  • I first seriously considered the implications of new mining projects in Northern Minnesota when I met a group of activists while hitchhiking north after my first year at Carleton. I…

  • Learn what the Arb crew has been up to this summer

  • I started thinking about the siscowet strain of lake trout the other night and couldn’t stop.  There is something about that elusively pelagic fish that prods my imagination like few other species.  If humans have progressively economized their environments, the siscowet remains naggingly unquantifiable.  But while an attempt to place this fish can lead to sleepless nights, there is something in the siscowet that I prefer to the multi-billion dollar salmon fishery of neighboring Lake Michigan.

  • The growing rash of piracy off the coast of Somalia has been consistently present in international news for the past several years, and has had a major impact on the security and economy in the region.  Western nations have stepped up anti-piracy patrols in an attempt to re-establish key shipping lanes, as well as to make the gulf and its highly productive fishery safer for fishing vessels.  However, little press has been given to what role these international fishing vessels may have played in the development of Somalian piracy in the first place.

  • Terra Madre Food ConferenceVera Chang and I presented about our experiences at Terra Madre last week, but I’ll elaborate here as well. We attended the Slow Food international Terra Madre conference in Torino, Italy October 25-28. The conference was a gathering of the world’s food communities—thousands growers, producers and eaters all converged to discuss the issues facing our food system, learn from world leaders, and celebrate our unique but interconnected food cultures and traditions.

  • Katie Blanchard recaps a speech given by Micahel Braungart, author of the book Cradle to Cradle.  Braungart emphasized his belief that the degradation of the topsoil is the world’s greatest environmental problem, but also discussed how in general the approaches that are taken to changing environmentally harmful behaviors are not very fun or productive and can be seriously improved.

  • A dinner fundraiser for the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project in Cantel, Guatemala, at St. Olaf College last Thursday illuminated some of the struggles and triumphs of sustainable development. Stories from Carleton and St. Olaf students who had visited the reforestation project during a study abroad program helped give a human face to these difficult international issues.

    The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project was founded in 1999 in response to a dwindling groundwater supply because of decades of deforestation. As a result, Cantel only has access to water for a few hours a day. The project has planted hundreds of thousands of trees, including 65,000 last year alone. Planting trees in Cantel is considered a subversive political act, a defiant stance against the government that allows this deforestation to continue–a sharp contrast, the students noted, to the idea of connecting to the earth and holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Here, planting trees is a necessity to the continuity of community life, and a politically subversive one at that.

    Under Guatemalan law, there must be a certain number of trees planted to replace those that are cut down. The loggers usually do a pretty hasty job of replanting and then leave the seedlings alone. This is not an effective solution. As the students learned in Cantel, it takes a lot of love to make just one tree grow. The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project actually devotes the time and care to the trees they need to thrive.

    Continue by clicking the “read more” link below

  • While it is easy to justify the use of native plantings near and around the Arboretum at Carleton, some argue that prairie restoration patches closer to central campus are inappropriate and a nuisance. Depending on the season, prairie can look like dry weeds and it also requires regular burning to maintain. What should the landscape on campus look like? A well-irrigated golf course? An ornamental garden? Native prairie? The jury is still out.

    As Carleton enters into a new phase of construction with a new Arts Building and one or more dormitory projects, the College is increasingly forced think about space. Believe it or not, space is limited on our campus. As a result, the placement of every landscape feature, ranging from our large recreation center to the kale now sitting in the Sayles planters, is intentional. Given the pending expansion of the Carleton student body, it is in the college’s best interest to maintain green space as well as to make the green spaces it has more green. How does the college incorporate sustainability into its landscaping operations? While Carleton does not have a specific provision in its landscaping operational guidelines that formally incorporates sustainability, there is an intentional effort to do so.

    First and foremost, Carleton strives to use plants native to southeastern Minnesota in its design scheme. According to an unofficial landscaping document drafted in the summer of 2007, the campus is divided into a variety of zones, each with their own design parameters (vegetation choices and placement, maintenance specifications, etc). Vegetation in Zone 1 (which encompasses the Rec Center/ Goodhue building sites) is expected to consist of species native to southeastern MN. Non-native plants are to be used sparingly and only when similar native species are not available in the proper size, form, or quantity. Vegetation in Zones 2 and 3 (the Arboretum Corridor and the Arboretum itself) are even more specified. Plants in these areas are limited to vegetation common to Rice County and, in the Arb, should be arranged “randomly or in associations typically found in the area”. The fourth and last landscaping zone includes campus and off-campus properties. This zone is perhaps the most important and the most difficult to design. With respect to Zone 4, the unofficial landscaping document states, “While there are no established limitations regarding the use of non-native plant material, it is understood that responsible and sustainable landscaping practices favor the selection and predominant use of fully hardy species native and adapted to the region.”

    Continue by clicking the “read more” link below

  • Rotten to the Core?

    It’s fall in Minnesota. The leaves are turning colors, and it’s time to go apple picking, right?

    Daniel Gross in an article available at argues that the Fall apple-picking tradition is more idiotic than idyllic and represents American tendencies to esteem overconsumption and balk at nature that’s a little too natural.

    In my opinion, that may be a little harsh and condemning. It may be true that when we go out to buy a half-bushel for our house or floor, we may not eat it all, but of all battles to choose, why apple-picking? What do you think?

  • A recent study undertaken by a researcher at Purdue University has found that in one Midwestern county, parking spaces outnumber residents three to one. Using software based upon aerial photographs, researcher Bryan Pijanowski has discovered that parking spaces are taking over Tippecanoe County in Indiana. This study has important environmental ramifications that connect to pollution, land use, and even global warming.

    Even at Carleton, there is a lot of land dedicated to parking. Last year, on a Friday during convocation, student volunteers counted 588 vehicles on campus, roughly one car for every three students on campus. Furthermore, last year there were 455 student permits issued, along with 1,178 faculty/staff permits.

    Parking stress has been a critical issue on campus and the demand for more parking spaces does not come without its costs. You wouldn’t think it when you look at them, but parking lots are hotspots of environmental degradation. Certainly, on a most basic level, parking lots mean less space for plants and animals to inhabit, but the environmental impacts of parking go much deeper.

    Continue by clicking the “read more” link below