Posts Tagged 'national wildlife federation'



Arbor Day: Doing Our Part Right in the Inner Harbor

Did you know? National Aquarium’s Waterfront Park is populated entirely with plants native to Maryland!

waterfront plaza

Our goal in maintaining the park, the organization of which follows the principles of conservation landscaping (also known as Bayscaping), is to reduce the impact of pollution felt downtown and improve the health of our local ecosystem.

Here in the city, the trees and other plants of the Waterfront Park provide habitat and refuge for local and migratory birds, insects and other animals that either live in Baltimore permanently or are just passing through. In our Appalachian Highlands planter, we have a variety of trees and shrubs: Red Cedar, Redbud, White Pine, Sassafrass, White Oak, Chestnut Oak, Witch Hazel, Fragrant Sumac, Flowering Dogwood and Red-Panicled Dogwood that provide critical food and shelter for wildlife.

A bloom from one of our dogwood trees.

A bloom from one of our dogwood trees.

The Piedmont planter is dominated by Red Maple, but also includes such trees and shrubs such as Sweetbay Magnolia, Southern and Maple-Leaved Arrowwood, and Serviceberry. Our Coastal Forest planter is home to Loblolly Pine, Marsh Elder, and Inkberry, and in our Salt Marsh planters can be found more Marsh Elder, Groundsel Bush, Swamp Hibiscus and Winterberry. Many of the trees and shrubs on the Plaza produce fruit and berries that are enjoyed throughout the year by birds, including the Serviceberry, Red Chokecherry, Fragrant Sumac, Inkberry and Winterberry. The foliage of these trees provides an environment in which native birds can nest and rear their young.

Our park is a certified wildlife habitat.

Our park is a certified wildlife habitat.

Many of the flowering trees and plants also provide pollen and nectar through the growing seasons for various pollinating birds and insects, and the foliage of many trees is a valuable food source for the larvae of various butterflies and moths. The “leaf litter” underneath the trees generated by years of deciduous accumulation also supports a vast array of insects, spiders and other arthropods. The insects supported here are also a useful food source for the birds and bats that live in and pass through our city!

This thriving environment of native plants has evolved immensely in recent years to support a growing number of native animal wildlife. We hope the community here in Baltimore city can continue to enjoy it for many years to come!

John Seyjagat, the Curator of our Animal Planet Australia exhibit, also manages the development and maintenance of our exterior parks. To learn more about John, click below: 

Blog-Header-JohnSeyjagat

Re-Cap: Eastern Neck Tree Planting!

Last weekend, our Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) hosted a tree planting event at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Eastern Neck is a 2,285-acre stopover area for migratory and wintering waterfowl at the mouth of the Chester River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Funded through the US Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Trust, and National Wildlife Federation, community volunteers, students and partners planted 15,000 native hardwood trees creating a 300 foot forest buffer along the river. Since 2000, we have restored more than 12 acres of wetland habitat, demonstrating the beneficial use of dredge material. The wetlands provide refuge to a variety of wildlife including terrapins, birds, snakes and small mammals.

In total, 80 students from Rock Hall Elementary, Kent County High School and Aquarium On Wheels (an after school program for Baltimore City Youth) participated alongside 18 Maryland Conservation Corps, 19 Aquarium Conservation Team and 36 community volunteers. Our planting project at Eastern Neck is part of a larger initiative to educate local school children on the importance of marsh habitat around the Chesapeake Bay using these restored wetlands as a living classroom.

US Fish and Wildlife Staff will continue to monitor trees over the next several years to assure success of the newly-planted seedlings!

Want to get out in the field and give back to our local wildlife? Join us at our of our upcoming conservation events

Guest Post: NWF Wildlife Week Celebrates Trees, Wildlife and Water

Today’s post comes from Kevin Coyle, Vice President, Education & Training at National Wildlife Federation (NWF). This year, NWF’s Wildlife Week, March 18-24, celebrates trees and their importance to wildlife and people! 

March 18 to 24 is National Wildlife Week. And, this year, we are focusing on the importance of trees to wildlife and water. Our 2013 theme is “branching out for wildlife” and anyone interested in learning about trees, tree planting or wildlife should visit us online. We are often asked why trees are so important for wildlife and water. There are at least five compelling reasons:

Trees consume water and can regulate stream flows
Urban areas experience increasing amounts of paving and land development that convert large areas of spongy natural land to hard surfaces that cannot absorb water. When rain hits paved-over or built-over areas, it runs off directly into storm drains and eventually into area streams and rivers. A hard, fast rain, with no vegetation or natural land to slow it down can hit these water bodies with such speed and force that it will result in flooding and severe erosion problems. Downstream areas such as bays and estuaries can get deadly slugs of sediment and chemical pollution from these run-off surges.

Anyone who has stood under a tree at the beginning of a rain shower (not advisable in lighting storms) knows that tree canopy absorbs falling rain. In urban areas this can reduce water run-off by as much as 10 percent and that can make a huge difference in the speed and erosive force of the rain shower. That is one reason trees are increasingly becoming a standard design feature for automobile parking lots which, left uncovered, are huge run-off generators. These same parking lots also heat up on hot summer days and contribute to spikes in temperatures know as “heat islands.” Tree canopy is an effective coolant in these areas and that is likewise good for local wildlife and water.

Trees also need water to grow and can help consume excess water in urban areas. Urban planners and designers are paying more and attention to filling remaining “plantable” spaces in cities and suburbs with trees. The recent trend of planting areas called “rain gardens” in parking lots and other developed areas that are specifically designed to capture rain water and help it percolate into the ground. This absorption is facilitated by tree planting.

Trees remove pollutants from the air and water
The science is also clear that trees and wooded areas help to filter pollutants out of the environment and can keep air and water cleaner. They cut down on sediment running into streams, rivers and bays and they also absorb chemical pesticides, and heavy metals, such as cadmium, that can be devastating to water quality, fisheries and wildlife.

Trees can serve as anchors to stream-side habitat areas
The term “riparian area” may not be front of mind for most people but such an area is the (usually narrow) zone of stream-side vegetation that follows the stream and occupies the space between the water and dry land. Because of differences in soils and the amount of moisture they hold, these transitional zone have many unique characteristics.

In some farming and dry land regions riparian areas are the only places where trees are found. The trees there are playing an important role by stabilizing soils, cooling the water, dropping food and nutrients into the stream and providing moist environments for a wealth of native plants in the under-story  These vegetative zones help to keep streams cleaner and they literally absorb and slow down food waters. In many parts of the nation, such as in the West, wooded riparian areas support as many as 70 percent of local species. They are vitally important to birds, insects, mammals, amphibians and many other creatures and when they are cleared for farming, development or just improved views of the stream, wildlife diversity drops sharply. Likewise, tree planting becomes an important first to restore degraded riparian zones.

Trees provide resting places during migration
Resident wildlife species certainly need trees but they are also important for our migrating visitors. Birds and insect species traveling over great distances need wooded areas to rest and refuel on their long journeys. Central Park in New York City is famous for being an area that attracts an unbelievable diversity of bird species despite being surrounded by skyscrapers and America’s most dense urban environment. One study in the United Kingdom found that even a small area of an acre can be vitally important to migrating species in need of a little rest.

Trees, living and dead, are great for food and habitat
There are several fallen trees right outside the windows of the National Wildlife Federation HQ in Reston, Virginia. In February of this year, a staff meeting was put on pause so we could observe a beautiful pair of pileated woodpeckers driving holes into the logs and feeding on the insects inside. Live trees offer creatures important habitat for sure but dead trees are important too because they provide food, holes and cavities for nests and shelter. In the eastern forests, for example, a combination of shelter and food from living trees such as an abundant acorn crop combined with rotting trees and snags on the forest floor can provide an unbeatable safety net of support to wildlife species throughout the food web.

National Wildlife Federation is honored to be affiliated with National Aquarium. Our reasons for joining forces include the protection of the Chesapeake Bay and other coastal areas. Forested areas, large and small, are vital to that goal!

Join us this year in celebrating National Wildlife Week and supporting nation-wide tree planting programs!

Come Learn More About Shark and Ocean Preservation – And How YOU Can Help!

On December 13, we’ll be joining Oceana and the Humane Society in Ocean City, Maryland to host a community meeting on the importance of shark preservation – and how you can help us save them!

Actress January Jones is just one of the many who have spoken out in favor of protecting sharks! Photo via Oceana

Actress January Jones is just one of the many who have spoken out in favor of protecting sharks! Photo via Oceana

Sharks have inhabited this planet for more than 400 million years, historically known as fierce apex predators, this species is now incredibly vulnerable to exploitation. Every year, tens of millions of sharks are killed for their fins. In most cases their fins are cut off at sea while the shark is still alive, and then thrown back into the ocean. Without their fins, sharks cannot swim and quickly die.

Our research team tags sharks off the coast of Ocean City every year to gather data on migration and abundance!

Our research team tags sharks off the coast of Ocean City every year to gather data on migration and abundance!

National Aquarium, along with our partners at Humane Society, Oceana, and the National Wildlife Federation, has been a leading supporter of legislation in the state of Maryland to hinder the market for shark fins by prohibiting their possession and sale. Similar to making the trade of elephant ivory illegal, such legislation would ensure that shark finning and unsustainable fishing practices are not tolerated.

Help us join an international campaign to protect these amazing animals: 

Date: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Time: 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Address:
10003 Coastal Highway
Ocean City, MD 21842
United States

RSVP Here

Thoughtful Thursdays: Save the Monk Seals

From Laura Bankey, Director of Conservation

I recently attended the National Wildlife Federation annual meeting. This is the one time during the year that all state affiliates gather to decide areas of focus for NWF in the future. At this meeting, conservation resolutions are proposed, debated, and voted on.

For this year’s consideration, the Conservation Council of Hawaii asked the National Aquarium to be a co-sponsor of the Hawaiian Monk Seal Conservation Resolution. We gladly signed on, and I’m happy to say the resolution was adopted by the affiliates.
Hawaiian Monk Seal

Photo credit: NOAA

With fewer than 1,100 individuals remaining, the Hawaiian monk seal is the most endangered marine mammal in U.S. waters. Monk seals are at risk due to entanglement in fishing gear and other marine debris, overfishing, inadequate marine protected areas, invasive species, canine diseases, ocean acidification, sea level rise, and intentional killing by individuals who view the seals as competition for declining fish stocks.

Monk Seal Entangled

A Hawaiian monk seal entangled in fishing debris. Photo credit: NOAA

The critical status of the Hawaiian monk seal warrants our immediate and prolonged attention. The fate of this species is intricately related to ocean health issues and to additional pressures we humans are subjecting to this animal and the delicate ecosystem it calls home.
We are calling for federal agencies to implement policies and funding mechanisms that will serve to protect Hawaiian monk seal habitat and promote the recovery and reestablishment of the species throughout its native range.

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