National Wildlife Week Begins Tomorrow

Tomorrow marks the start of National Wildlife Week, an annual event sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) with a goal of teaching young people about the extraordinary animals that live around us. This celebration of all the diverse life that we share our planet with will run from March 18-24.

The theme of this year’s National Wildlife Week is “Branching Out,” which puts a particular emphasis on the importance of trees to animals. Trees serve as protection, form habitats and provide food and other resources for animals and yet we don’t always recognize just how significant a role they play for the creatures that live in and around them. With that in mind, the NWF has provided educators with some suggested lesson plans and other activities for helping to convey this important message to their students.

2013 also happens to be the 75th anniversary of National Wildlife Week and the NWF wanted to do something big to commemorate the occasion. So, in keeping with the theme, the organization is also hoping to plant 75,000 trees across the U.S. With that goal in mind, they’ve given us the tools to host a tree-planting event of our own or donate some cash to the cause. For every $10 that is given, the NWF will plant another tree near schools, parks or on other public lands across the country.

The National Wildlife Federation is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting wildlife and their habitats. By educating young people about the importance of this cause, they hope to create the next generation of conservationists that will help steward America’s national resources throughout the 21st century and beyond. National Wildlife Week is one of their most important tools in helping to achieve that goal.

With spring just around the corner and much of the country on break this week, now is the perfect time to head outside and plant a tree.

Photo Of The Day: Highlands Hammock State Park

The Highlands Hammock State Park feels surreal. Located just outside Sebring, Florida, the park contains a vast swamp of old-growth bald cypress trees, some of which are said to be more than a thousand years old. American Alligators and white-tailed deer roam the grounds, and the rare Florida panther is seen on occasion.

The park’s surreality is augmented by the high-contrast photo effects added by Flickr user Chuck Oliver, who uploaded this shot to Gadling’s Flickr Pool. The image was taken with a Sony NEX-6, with an ISO of 1/100, exposure of 1/500 and aperture of f/6.3.

Do you have any surreal nature photos? Upload your shots to the Gadling Flickr Pool and your image could be selected as our Photo of the Day.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user justchuckfl]

Toomer’s Corner trees poisoned at Auburn University

As far as college rivalries go, Auburn versus Alabama is as intense as they come. Duking it out on the football field, basketball court or in the natatorium is certainly appropriate. Furthermore, good old fashioned pranks are part of the college experience. However, poisoning 130-year-old trees is no laughing matter. That’s exactly what happened at Toomer’s Corner on the Auburn University campus. Toomer’s Corner is a site of celebration after Auburn football victories – students throw toilet paper on the trees which, in its own right, is an odd way to treat trees that you love so dearly. Now, however, thanks to vandals, these centenarian trees may be on their last legs roots.

Sports Illustrated reported on their website that police have arrested a suspect. The man was a caller on a local radio station who claimed that he poisoned the trees with a potent herbicide after Auburn beat Alabama in this year’s edition of their annual Iron Bowl football game. The caller – and self-professed tree murderer – said that he poisoned the trees and signed off call with “Roll Damn Tide,” a more aggressive iteration of Alabama’s Roll Tide chant.

Whether you’re an Auburn supporter, a high school student looking at potential colleges or just someone who loves trees, if you had plans to head to the university to see the old oaks in Toomer’s Corner, I suggest you do so in the very near future (or view them on the Toomer’s Corner live webcam). Scientists are, sadly, not optimistic about the fate of the trees.

Let’s support our teams in healthy ways, folks. Paint your faces, cheer until you’re hoarse or tailgate with as much barbecue as you can load into your pickup truck. But let’s not kill anything, human or otherwise. OK?

Photo by Flickr user Robert S. Donovan

Ghost Forest brings attention to rainforest threat

A Ghost Forest is stalking Europe.

Giant trees from Ghana have appeared in Copenhagen, Trafalgar Square in London, and now Oxford. It’s called the Ghost Forest Art Project, and it’s an innovative way to bring the plight of the world’s rainforests to public attention.

Artist Angela Palmer wanted to share her concern with the public about tropical rainforests, which are disappearing fast. An area the size of a football pitch vanishes every four seconds, and most are never replaced. Not only does this reduce biodiversity and nature’s way of absorbing atmospheric carbon, but it leads to soil erosion and long-term economic problems. Since Europe is a major consumer of rainforest wood, and there are no rainforests in Europe, Palmer decided to bring the rainforest to Europe.

She hauled a collection of stumps from the commercially logged Suhuma forest in western Ghana all the way to Europe. Ghana lost 90 percent of its forest due to overlogging before the government got serious about conservation. Now the remaining forest is being logged in a sustainable manner under strict supervision. The stumps mostly fell due to storms, but three were actually logged. To offset the carbon footprint of shipping these behemoths hundreds of miles, Palmer contributed to a project that distributes efficient stoves to Ghanaian villages. These stoves use less wood than traditional stoves and reduce the need for cutting.

First stop was Copenhagen, just in time for last year’s UN Climate Change conference. This was followed by a visit to Trafalgar Square before the trees were installed in front of Oxford University’s famous Museum of Natural History. A fitting display for 2010, which is the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity. Next year will be the Year of Forests.

I’ve seen this exhibit in person and I have to say the stumps are truly awe inspiring. Their sheer size, and the realization that they were once alive, made me think about our place in this world. My four-year-old was impressed too, and I hope that some of these giant trees will still be standing when he’s my age.

Image Courtesy Ghost Forest.


Photo of the Day (2.2.10)

Today’s Photo of the Day was submitted by Misha Loginov – a great snapshot that utilizes light, color, and the texture of smoke captured amidst a controlled burn in the Big Basin State Park. Established in 1902, Big Basin is California’s oldest State Park, and claims more than 80 miles of trails through redwoods, waterfalls, and oak groves.

Do you have any pictures from trips to State Parks laying around? Think they’re worthy to be our Photo of the Day? Submit them to the Gadling Flickr Pool and find out!