A chat with an ecologist (Part I): listen in on a conservation conversation.You've read it before, and you'll read it again green building concepts have changed the way we design, construct and think about land planning and development, our homes and our communities. Eco-friendly, value-added features attract people, so demand is on the rise. In 2006, builders gave Asheville thirty energy efficient and NC HealthyBuilt[R] homes. This year, however, over 400 such homes are in progress here! The explosion of interest raises the question: How does one build green while protecting the land?
This question started an interesting conversation with ecologist Kevin Caldwell as we visited property overlooking o·ver·look
tr.v. o·ver·looked, o·ver·look·ing, o·ver·looks
a. To look over or at from a higher place.
b. a valley north of Asheville. Kevin helps landowners incorporate the ecology of the land into their property and oversees management and protection of these resources. He inventories plants, wildlife, water resources, soils and the larger "natural communities" they live in.
"Tell me. Kevin." I began. "how can we add value to property from the start? In a new development, for instance, how Call one avoid putting roads and homes over rare species and maintain the integrity of the land during construction?"
"The goal is to locate construction where it has the least impact," he replied. "Once you've assessed the land and developed a plan based on nature, the land becomes a treasure chest of jewels instead of just a place to build a house. Possibly most critical to consider is the timing Of heavy land disturbances like clearing and grading to avoid bird migration and breeding when impacts to wildlife are highest.'"
"That makes sense," I remarked. "More people are building green homes in the southern Appalachians than ever. Most of these people are interested in reducing their resource consumption and being closer to nature. It's ironic, then. that we're probably damaging some very fragile or rare features that we'd protect if we knew about them."
"That's true." said Kevin. "Currently, the primary consideration is how a home consumes energy over time in order to minimize damage to nature. It makes sense to actually minimize our impacts to the natural world when we build. When native habitats, plants, wildlife and natural dynamics are meshed into the building process, a truer form of green building is realized There is no way to avoid all impact, but we must do what we can to minimize it. Over time, we will continue to learn new ways to protect nature."
Kevin continued, "Few of us are willfully willfully adv. referring to doing something intentionally, purposefully and stubbornly. Examples: "He drove the car willfully into the crowd on the sidewalk." "She willfully left the dangerous substances on the property." (See: willful) trying to destroy natural habitats, species or water quality during construction. We just haven't been trained to be aware of these resources, how they work, our impacts to them and how to avoid or protect them. When they are identified before development, they become the centerpieces of the land and serve as daily, visible reminders of why we're involved in greenbuilding: to protect nature."
As Kevin spoke, I wondered how such an assessment works within the construction process. Let's say I wanted to have the least impact building a green home on raw land. "How would I go about integrating nature with my home?" I asked.
"The process includes pre-construction assessment of natural features, followed by planning and action. Prior to construction, the entire property is inventoried on foot to map the natural communities (bogs, cove forests, meadows, streams and rock outcrops). All plants, wildlife, and natural communities are described.
This allows a birds-eye view of the most significant natural areas. These larger are defined by specific 'alliances' of plants, including trees, shrubs, wildflowers
Kevin continued, "Combine this information with a slope analysis of buildable build·a·ble
Suitable or available for building: "The problem was finding a site that was well located, appropriately zoned . . . and buildable" Sam Hall Kaplan. areas (avoiding steep slopes) and you have a basis for a least-impact land plan. This information is then a foundation for conservation easements EASEMENTS, estates. An easement is defined to be a liberty privilege or advantage, which one man may have in the lands of another, without profit; it may arise by deed or prescription. Vide 1 Serg. & Rawle 298; 5 Barn. & Cr. 221; 3 Barn. & Cr. 339; 3 Bing. R. 118; 3 McCord, R. , forest management and restoration plans, rare species management, invasive plants control, trail construction, and so on. It allows one to highlight waterfalls This is a list of worldwide waterfalls. Africa
Let's consider some examples from the large scale to the small, as well as timing.
"In terms of avoiding impacts to the larger natural community," Kevin continued, "assume a "landowner holds 100 acres, ten of which are moist moist
having a moderate moisture content, slightly wet to the touch.
see moist dermatitis of rabbits.
moist grain storage
grain stored at about 30% moisture in airtight silos. cove hardwoods and ninety are in a dry oak-hickory forest. The ten acres of cove forest can easily harbor hundreds of plant species, while the oak-hickory forest might contain fifty species, If a landowner wants to create a homesite, I would probably entirely avoid the cove and focus on the remaining ninety acres if possible to avoid damaging the higher biodiversity biodiversity: see biological diversity.
Quantity of plant and animal species found in a given environment. Sometimes habitat diversity (the variety of places where organisms live) and genetic diversity (the variety of traits expressed of the coves.
However, within this zone, we'd then look very closely to avoid rare species, stands of mature trees, wildlife denning sites, breeding birds, amphibians amphibians
members of the animal class Amphibia. Includes frogs, toads, newts, salamanders and cecilians all capable of living on land or in water. and so on. Only by assessing the land first can you make this kind of distinction."
I thanked Kevin for the great information and asked him, "Could you tell me about an experience that will put this into perspective for me?"
"Sure," he replied. "Recently, I met a landowner who moved to the mountains to propagate prop·a·gate
1. To cause an organism to multiply or breed.
2. To breed offspring.
3. To transmit characteristics from one generation to another.
4. and sell medicinal medicinal /me·dic·i·nal/ (mi-dis´in-il) having healing qualities; pertaining to a medicine.
Of, relating to, or having the properties of medicine. herbs. Prior to my inventory, the landowner built a driveway through a north-facing slope to his home on a low ridge where his home would get south-facing sun. Driving in, my stomach sank as I realized the driveway not only bisected the center of the richest portion of the tract, but also destroyed one of the largest patches of ginseng ginseng (jĭn`sĕng), common name for the Araliaceae, a family of tropical herbs, shrubs, and trees that are often prickly and sometimes grow as climbing forms. I've ever seen. Had the road been located instead on the south-facing slope, it would have affected far fewer plant species instead of the 310 plants we found on the moist, north slope North Slope, Alaska: see Alaska North Slope. ."
Kevin's explanation opened the window for a question about native landscape plants. Landowners must be losing thousands of dollars worth of high quality landscape species (and valuable topsoil) in clearing land for homes and drives, not to mention the loss of local genetic pools of biodiversity. I want to explore this subject in-depth, so look for another chat with Kevin right here in Green Roots. Check back in and let me know what you think!
Meet Your Columnist columnist, the writer of an essay appearing regularly in a newspaper or periodical, usually under a constant heading. Although originally humorous, the column in many cases has supplanted the editorial for authoritative opinions on world problems. : janeAnne Narrin
JaneAnne holds the highly-regarded designations of ECO E·co , Umberto Born 1932.
Italian writer best known for his novels, including The Name of the Rose (1981). He has also written extensively on semiotics and British and American popular culture. [R] Real Estate Consultant and PRO[R] and serves as an active member Journal Green Home Experts Board. As founder of the ECO-Steward realty realty n. a short form of "real estate." (See: real estate)
REALTY. An abstract of real, as distinguished from personalty. Realty relates to lands and tenements, rents or other hereditaments. Vide Real Property. firm, she specializes in NC Healthy-Built Homes[R], ECO-Development, infill in·fill
1. The use of vacant land and property within a built-up area for further construction or development, especially as part of a neighborhood preservation or limited growth program.
2. projects, preserves and private land trusts. Look out for her continued column in our future issues where she will chat with other green home professionals to bring building.