My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 1 second. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Remember: 2010: The International Year of Biodiversity: At Jordan Park

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

2010: The International Year of Biodiversity: At Jordan Park

When I was walking around Jordan Park a few days ago with Doc, I did not know what year it was.  Yes, I knew it was 2010 but I had no idea what particular significance 2010 holds.  2010 has been designated by the United Nations as an “International Year of Biodiversity”.  A major component of this designation is a study on the state of the world’s ecosystems; the results of which have just been released.
Before I get to that though, let me clarify what the word biodiversity means.  The Fifth Edition of Botkin and Keller’s “Environmental Science” defines Biological Diversity as follows”
"Used loosely to mean the variety of life on the Earth, but scientifically typically used to consist of three components: (1) genetic diversity- the total number of genetic characteristics; (2) species diversity; and (3) habitat or ecosystem diversity- the number of kinds of habitats or ecosystems in a given unit area.”

Now, the study commissioned by the UN, concludes the following according to CNN:

”The world's eco-systems are at risk of "rapid degradation and collapse" according to a new United Nations report.
The third Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) published by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) warns that unless "swift, radical and creative action" is taken "massive further loss is increasingly likely."

In other words, the ecosystems of Earth are up the creek without a paddle.  The study sites specific examples of areas in extremely dire straits but the results make abundantly clear that nearly every ecosystem on earth is at this very moment, in danger. 

So, what exactly does a walk around Jordan Park have to do with a global ecological collapse that would be tantamount to Armageddon?  Simply put, everything.  At this very moment, in Jordan Park, right here in Allentown Pennsylvania, the entirety of the world’s ecological crisis is in full view.

A long long time ago, the current site of Jordan Park was once a wetland. (Allentown City Council documents from 1976 confirm this)  From existing in its natural state Jordan Park has been drained, made into a lake, drained and filled in and made into the park we see today.  If my post ended right here, enough ecological issues would be raised to write a thesis. There is however, much more.

Besides the concreted stream banks with zero vegetative buffering, the ancient remnants of the age of Jordan Lake remain at their worst acting as a “bridge” across Jordan Creek near the center of the park.  Here, the crisis of biodiversity in Jordan Park starts to become readily apparent.  By damming the Jordan, and creating a situation in stark contrast to naturally occurring creek conditions, algae growth, sediment, and excess nutrients steep in a slow draining pool of polluted filth for the majority of the year at Jordan Park.  By existing in such a state, the necessary organic components of the stream’s food web are eliminated.  The number of species drops.  The amount of remaining species drops.  Algae becomes the single dominant species.  Biodiversity is destroyed. 
Further on up the stream, a vegetative buffer has been allowed to grow.  An idle glance from a passer by would see numerous plants, flowers, grasses etc and in all likelihood, that passerby would not think that biodiversity was a problem in that location.  This readers, is the big problem.  You see, a dark turbulent water body doesn’t look right to anyone.  The green stuff does.  One year ago, I would have thought that the buffer at Jordan Park was just fine.

As it turns out, the buffer at Jordan park is full of invasive species.  From the seemingly benign creeping buttercup to the terrible huge Japanese Knotweed. (The picture below shows Doc standing in front of the knotweed so you can see just how large it is already in early May)
These invasive species are rapid colonizers that outcompete native plants for the necessary nutrients needed to survive.  In doing so, they eliminate native plants and become the dominant species. The plants that are eliminated by the invasives are the primary food sources for native animals, birds, insects and fish.  Like algae in the water, as the invasive plants become dominant, biodiversity is destroyed.
Of course, the invasive threat is not just going on in Jordan Park.  Invasive plant species have begun to spread throughout many of our parks.  Since this is the year of Biodiversity, there is no better time to begin educating folks about invasive species.  We can do little to save the Amazonian rainforest here in Allentown.  We can however work to begin the necessary changes in our ecosystems to preserve biodiversity.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home