Protecting Native Trees and the Ecosystem

Claudette Reichel  |  6/19/2008 3:02:44 AM

Permaculture is a design concept and system for creating sustainable human environments. It uses ecology as the basis for integrated systems of food production, housing, appropriate technology and community development. Gardening and recycling methods common to permaculture include edible landscaping, keyhole gardening, companion planting, trellising, sheet mulching, solar greenhouses, spiral herb gardens, swales (surface drainage) and composting. Water collection, management and re-use systems like greywater, rain catchment, constructed wetlands, aquaponics (such as constructed wetlands or ponds with fish and plants that sustain each other) and solar aquatic ponds (to break down waste) are also key features. Many of these practices are not only kind to the environment, but also provide benefits such as reduced labor and maintenance, cost savings and scenic beauty.

Native tree/plant retention: Protecting and planting native trees is not only good for the ecosystem, it substantially increases the value of a home, can save energy, increase enjoyment and also provide windstorm buffer and floodwater absorption benefits. It costs much less to prevent tree damage than to remedy it, but good planning and implementation are required.

Trees are often damaged or decline and die during and after home construction. Causes include grading that alters the ground level or water table at the roots, excavation and trenching, soil compaction by heavy vehicles, chemical substances, accidental damage or improper cutting. Construct barricades around tree canopy drip lines or plant groupings you wish to protect, and prevent runoff to those areas. If making grading changes, consult with a licensed arborist or other green industry professional to develop a tree preservation plan.

Wetlands and wildlife protection: On large sites, preserve existing terrain, wetland areas and plant communities in the natural state as much as possible. If adding a water retention area for stormwater management, investigate how to make it a “constructed wetland.” Consider creating a wildlife habitat or shelter with native plants that can survive on rainfall, self-sustaining soil nutrients and natural pest control.

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