Floodplain Restoration – Defenders of Wildlife Blog

GR:  If you’ve ever wondered if we could get along without nature, if you’d like to know if the only plants we need are those we plant for food, and if you wonder if the only animals we need are those we ride or eat, you may find this article interesting. It’s concerned with maintaining and restoring one of nature’s essential functions and one of the richest types of ecosystems.

Restoring Floodplains: A Multi-Benefit Strategy in a Warming Climate

“The dramatic failure of the spillway at Oroville Dam and the evacuation of 188,000 downstream residents highlight the importance of effective flood management in California. After years of drought, Californians are suffering from water whiplash, with the current swing from drought to flood conditions.

“If you think something strange is happening here, you’re right. The last seven years have included a wet 2011, five years of drought (2012-2016) – four of which were the driest four-year period in state history – and now an extraordinarily wet 2017.

“This fluctuation from wet to dry – without anything approaching average conditions – is consistent with the projections of climate scientists. In 2011, the State of California warned “(a)s the climate warms, extreme events are expected to become more frequent, including wildfires, floods, droughts, and heat waves.”

“You don’t need to make a trek to the arctic to see on-the-ground impacts of climate change. Californians can simply look to their local rivers or the Sierra Nevada. The Sierra snowpack is now the largest in two decades – 177 percent of average. This comes just two years after a record low snowpack that was only 6 percent of average. Californians are already seeing more extreme weather events.

“The last five years taught Californians that we need to make conservation a way of life and that we must invest in tools like water recycling that are drought resilient. This year – and the weather patterns of the past seven years – teach us that California must prepare for floods as well.

How can we prepare for floods?

Floodplain:  The normal overflow zone that fills with water after rainfall. It must be large enough to handle the runoff from heavy rainfall, and it must be well vegetated with flood-tolerant shrubs and trees that slow the water. This is necessary to prevent erosion and the sudden arrival of too much water downstream. (Diagram from Wired.)

“One of the best ways is to restore portions of our historic floodplains to increase the ability of our rivers to handle high flows. We’ve seen the flood-protection benefits of floodplains this year. By opening gates to the Yolo Bypass floodplain, flood managers have lowered the risk to the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento, and avoided potentially catastrophic flooding.” –Rachel Zwillinger (Continue reading:  Floodplain Restoration – Defenders of Wildlife Blog).

Mass mangrove restoration: Driven by good intentions but offering limited results

GR:  Ecosystem restoration is difficult and expensive. The mangrove example provided here shows how easy it is for even large-scale efforts to fail. One study I read found that restoration of one acre of shrubland can cost $100,000 or more. Preservation is extremely cheap compared to restoration. Perhaps one day we humans will become a responsible species and begin devoting a large part of our wealth and energy to restoring the lands and seas that we have damaged.

“There is an urgent need to address the global degradation of coastal ecosystems, but are mass mangrove planting initiatives sustainable?”

“In recent years, hundreds and sometimes thousands of volunteers have been involved in mass mangrove planting efforts, gaining media recognition and even earning entries into the Guinness Book of World Records. This has drawn attention to the urgent need to address the global degradation of coastal ecosystems. But are these planting initiatives sustainable? Do they have the desired impact? In short, do they work?

“Coastal communities are first to face the impacts of coastal degradation – reduced flood protection, decreased water quality, extreme soil erosion and a rapid decline in the variety and abundance of food sources (many of which come from mangroves in the tropics). Mass mangrove plantings should help address these challenges in certain areas, but instead many restoration efforts worldwide (for example, in the Philippines) are failing.

What’s going wrong?

“There are several issues. Restoring a mangrove is a complex process that needs to be founded on the principles of ecosystem management. Often, fast-paced and large-scale ‘restoration events’ are not necessarily scientifically robust in terms of which mangrove species should be restored, and where.” –IUCN (Continue reading: Mass mangrove restoration: Driven by good intentions but offering limited results | IUCN.)

Help Save the World

Block Trump. Declare World War on Global Warming and Other Human Impacts on Nature

Our Problem


Earth could join Mars as a dry, lifeless derelict.

Scientists report that growth and spread of humanity together with rising global temperature are causing declining biodiversity, rising seas, growing storms, intensifying drought, spreading disease, and much more. The reports, made by observers all over the world, are like the thunder ahead of a storm that threatens the safety of our families, our friends, our civilization, and all life on our planet. We know it’s coming. Without a massive effort by the people of the world, the storm will grow until terrible destruction ruins our planet. We and all other life may be lost.

Donald Trump’s pre-inauguration statements and cabinet choices make it clear that he will add to global warming and every other negative human impact on Earth.

The Earth continues turning, but if we don’t exert some self-discipline there might one day be no minds that know or eyes that see.


Global warming and human population growth are the destructors. They are greater even than fear, hate, and desire;

Together, they threaten humanity and all life on Earth.

Polls show that sixty-four percent of Americans believe global warming is occurring. The number is growing. When the first distant rumbles occurred, we said, “Ah, it might help if we quit burning so much coal, oil, and gas.” Later we said, “Hmm, maybe we need to quit clearing so much land for cities and farms.” And as the danger loomed, we added to the list of things we should do. But we haven’t done much, and the danger has arrived. We are even beginning to realize that the coming storm might be self-sustaining. Global warming might have passed the point at which we can stop it. Seas and soils are warming and releasing their stores of carbon, and the great glaciers are melting and exposing open water. Warming might continue even if we halt all burning and building.

Why War?

Global Warming is at the brink and looking down the slip face of runaway self-sustaining increase beyond our control. The research shows that global warming is already rotting organic matter stored in the tundra and on the ocean floor. Global warming is increasing evaporation and humidity. Global warming is causing soil microbes to release carbon. Methane (CH4), water vapor (H2O), and soil carbon (C in various forms) are joining carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning and are all working together to trap more of the incoming solar energy. The buildup of these gases appears to have taken us past the point at which we can prevent the great storms, droughts, and rising seas. By adding CH4 and H2O to CO2, we are unleashing an exponential spiral that will end human civilization in decades, not centuries. And not far beyond that, end all life on Earth.

overpopulationEven if there was no greenhouse gas and global warming, the spreading human population will eventually wipe out most life on Earth. Already, more than half of all animals are gone, replaced by humans. Family planning, like cutting greenhouse gas, has become an emergency requirement for sustaining life on Earth.

I can’t quite bring myself to believe that our civilization will end within decades. I still believe that we could stop global warming if we make a total effort.

Saving the Earth–The Citizens’ Call Campaign

The Citizens

Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say they are worried a “great deal” or “fair amount” about global warming. The U. S. adult population totals 242+ million (over age 18). Sixty-four percent equals 154+ million.

The Actions

For those with concern for the future of society and their children, I find it intolerable to say that we must wait and see what happens. Instead, I have a proposal for action:

Leadership in the U. S. and most other nations is not responding to the growing human impact and the global warming threat. I propose that we declare a citizens’ war on the behaviors causing the impacts and threats. We can begin by forcing our elected leaders and our business leaders to organize and lead the war on warming and population growth. We need their help to convert the world’s industries, economies, and societies to the needed total effort to save Earth and us.

Other thinkers are saying the same thing. Here’s Michael Moore’s action plan:

And here is a list of more actions we can take.

Our local action group is forming now and will try to make visits to some of our representatives next week.

Can you put a price on nature? A Californian nonprofit thinks it can

“Everyone agrees that nature has value. It clothes, feeds and shelters us – and provides a spectacular playground. Yet we have never put a value on everything nature offers.

“Now, environmental and sustainable business consultants want to change that by forcing corporate leaders to take stock of the economic impact of how they manage natural resources. By accounting for this so-called natural capital, the advocates hope to see more businesses adopting practices that are both good for the environment and long term profitability, especially as climate change will further deplete natural resources, causing their values to climb and increase the cost of running business. In a 1997 paper in Nature that first introduced the natural capital concept, the 13 researchers involved pegged the Earth’s worth at $33tn. A 2014 revision raised that figure to $134tn.”  From: www.theguardian.com

GR:  Natural ecosystems are the outcome of hundreds and thousands of years of trial and failure. The high cost of replicating the process and thus the high value of nature will not make many businesses happy.  Perhaps “natural” is a standard too high.  Unfortunately, so many attempts to create man-made versions of nature have failed; natural may be the only goal that is reasonable.

Fighting Climate Change with Trees in Africa

“Restoration holds the potential to shield us from those dangers while also providing a wide range of benefits: trees as a source of energy; trees as a source of nutritious food; trees to bind the soil so that agriculture thrives; trees that make our landscapes beautiful. And especially in the developing world, restoring landscapes and planting trees is something we can do right away — we have boots on the ground! By investing in this amazing opportunity, we can tackle a suite of problems with one useful tool.

“A new movement called AFR100 is poised to take advantage of this opportune moment. This new pan-African, country-led effort aims to restore 100 million hectares (386,000 square miles) of degraded and deforested landscapes in Africa by 2030. It’s an ambitious goal, but within reach — at the initiative’s launch in Paris during COP21, African countries have already committed to restore more than 30 million hectares (116,000 square miles), an area larger than the nation of Gabon or the United Kingdom. And AFR100 partners are earmarking more than $1 billion in development finance and $600 million in private sector investment to support restoration activities.”  From: emiliocogliani.wordpress.com

GR:  There is no mention of population control in this article, and without it, the program is doomed to failure.  Perhaps not in the next 15 years during which it proposes to restore 386,000 square miles of forest, but in the 30 years after that.  The reason? Deforestation is taking place to make room for crops to feed meat animals and people.  Ignoring the influence of demand by a growing population makes the whole thing appear sham-like.

Nature News Digests

GarryRogersNature News Digests:

Harvesting invasive cattails to restore marsh biodiversity

CHEBOYGAN, Mich.—The diesel-powered harvester roars as ecologist Shane Lishawa crashes through dense, 7-foot-tall cattails toward an experimental plot established in the marsh in 2011.

“It’s now four years later, and we still have a persistently more diverse community,” said Lishawa, pointing to various native grasses, sedges and rushes that have sprung up in the test plot still dominated by an invasive hybrid cattail.

“None of these were here prior to harvesting the cattails,” said Lishawa, a 2001 University of Michigan graduate who is now a research associate at Loyola University Chicago.”  Sourced through Scoop.it from: ns.umich.edu

GR:  Looks destructive, but the invasive plant had already damaged the site.

Best conservation practices consider both genetics and biology

“Restoring diverse vegetation along the Atlantic seaboard after devastating hurricanes or replanting forests after destructive wildfires rests mightily upon one tiny but important ingredient: the seed.

Seeds are also important for conserving rare species, from trees to shrubs to other flowering plants. For example, the recently discovered Trillium tennesseense is only known in three locations in East Tennessee.

“But seeds must be saved the right way.

“Including a species’ biology in sample guideline calculations can dramatically improve sampling effectiveness, according to a new study from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis.

“For a long time, seed sampling guidelines have typically been quite general: the same recommended minimum sample applied to all species, roughly 50 seeds per population, whether a towering tree, widespread grass, or a small bee-pollinated herb. Such recommendations were based on genetic theory without considering plant ecology and reproductive biology.

“In the new study, published today in the journal Biological Conservation, researchers tested the importance of three factors in seed sampling: a species’ “selfing” rate, or rate at which a species pollinates itself, its seed and pollen dispersal distances, and whether an annual or perennial.”  –Source: phys.org

GR:  As good stewards, we could be restoring healthy conditions in burned, clear-cut, flooded, and overgrazed vegetation. If we were giving restoration the proper amount of attention, we would refine many of our practices.  In the study discussed above, the researchers studied the genetic variability of seeds and discovered that obtaining adequately variable seed collections requires that seed sample sizes vary with species’ reproductive traits.

Of course, we could consider other things.  For instance, we might find that genetic variability is related to species interaction strategies and to their spatial distribution, their areography.  However, our species has not become a good steward.  We know about many factors that we haven’t taken time to understand well enough to apply to our stewardship practices. And now, the news is that we are going to destroy a large portion of the species that ecosystems need to remain stable and productive.

Conservationists v chainsaws: the RSPB’s battle to save an Indonesian rainforest

Colm O’Molloy, Guardian:  “In 2007 an RSPB-led group bought up a series of logged-out Indonesian forests to bring them back from the brink.

“Over time, Harapan aims to become the leading centre of knowledge on how to bring damaged forest ecosystems back to health. Tropical rainforests develop over thousands of years. It is not yet known how long it takes to fully restore a damaged rainforest to health, or if it is possible at all.

“There is little doubt that the forests that make up Harapan would have been completely destroyed by now was it not for the efforts of the RSPB and its partners to protect and restore them.

“Despite ongoing losses to encroachment, Harapan still has a relatively large percentage of forest cover within its boundaries. Much of the surrounding forests have been completely decimated and replaced by palm plantations.”

Source: www.theguardian.com