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Posts from the ‘Florida Ecosystems / Trees’ Category

Tree Huggers Unite: May 16 Is National LOVE A Tree Day

Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone. (Czesław Miłosz)

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers — for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. (Osho)

Fast! Run out today, May 16, and hug your nearest tree! Today is National Love a Tree Day — on this day, trees are celebrated and recognized for their multitude of wonderful gifts. National Love a Tree Day is a relative of Arbor Day, and sits in the middle of Garden for Wildlife Month. Use #LoveATreeDay to post on social media, and discover Five Awesome Ways to Celebrate Love a Tree Day.

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As caretakers of this beautiful sphere, it remains our utmost responsibility to honor, safeguard, and protect these living entities. Upwards of 5,000 years old, they’ve borne witness to the rise and fall of entire civilizations. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Plant a tree…Recycle…Go paperless… Follow those conservation groups diligently working to protect these lovely, ancient living citadels. Or just show them some love and respect, and give them a nice big pat or hugggggg.

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In honor of LOVE A TREE DAY, check out this brief Nat Geo clip of a most amazing man, Payeng — who single-handedly reforested his devastated wasteland of an island, which is now (thanks to him), home to thriving native wildlife. Awe-inspiring and endless gratitude can’t convey enough.

 

With as many horrific stories of needless and careless deforestation as there are today, such stories do exist… There are so many wonderful people and groups helping to sustain the planet’s flora ecosystems. Trees are not something we can live without as a species, after all.

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Everyone loves trees!

Everyone loves trees!

Preserving our Future: World Wetlands Day 2015

World Wetlands Day PosterA million HELLOS to the blogging community!

And happy early World Wetlands DayIt’s hard not to be passionate about the celebration of such an event, since all of what you see here — the unique landscapes and its wonderful critters — are dependent on wetland ecosystems. Officially February 2, World Wetlands Day is an international celebration of the planet’s marshes, swamps, and bogs. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, on February 2, 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. World Wetlands Day was first celebrated in 1997, and since then government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and citizens all over the world have aimed to raise public awareness of the critical value and intrinsic benefits of wetland ecosystems.

World Wetlands Day 2015 LogoDespite the growing awareness of this unique ecosystem, there are sobering threats facing the survival of our wetlands:

    • A 2011 federal study estimated the U.S. lost 62,300 acres of wetlands between 2004-2009 — a loss rate 140% higher than from 1998-2004
    • Wetland habitat has now been cut within the contiguous U.S. to 110 million acres…. And those surviving wetlands face dangers like hypoxia due to water pollution and invasive species. Pythons and melaleuca in the Everglades (among a host of other destructive non-native species), and nutria in New Orleans continue to ravage the structure of this ecosystem
    • Wetlands are extremely sensitive, and are counted as one of the most vulnerable ecosystems subject to climate change
    • Wetlands residents have suffered terribly due to increased habitat loss

      Preserving the future of the wetlands of our world: Mother and baby Great Blue Heron in the Florida wetlands

      Preserving the future of the wetlands of our world: Mother and baby Great Blue Heron in the Florida wetlands

From the Ramsar website:

Wetlands InfographicTHE FUTURE OF HUMANITY DEPENDS ON WETLANDS

They purify and replenish our water, and provide the fish and rice that feed billions. Wetlands act as a natural sponge against flooding and drought, and protect our coastlines. They burst with biodiversity, and are a vital means of storing carbon. Unfortunately, these benefits are not widely known. Often viewed as wasteland, 64% of our wetlands have disappeared since 1900.

Help us turn the tide on the loss and degradation of our wetlands. Join us for World Wetlands Day 2015 – and beyond! Here’s how you can get involved: #WorldWetlandsDay #WetlandsForOurFuture

 

There’s much that can be done to restore and protect this vital habitat — check out your local resources, visit your neighboring natural areas, and above else, LOVE YOUR WETLANDS and their amazing inhabitants!

For more information and wonderful educational and marketing materials, visit World Wetlands Day 2015, and on Facebook: RamsarConventionOnWetlands

The lush Florida wetlands — a treasure to conserve

The lush Florida wetlands — a treasure to conserve

Go Hug a Tree — It’s Arbor Day!

I was just sittin’ here enjoyin’ the company. Plants got a lot to say, if you take the time to listen. -Eeyore

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A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live. -Hermann Hesse

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Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven. -Rabindranath Tagore

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Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers — for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. -Osho

Untouched Cypress Swamp on the Florida Trail Extension near Jonathan Dickinson State Park (OFF-TRAIL!)

Loving the trees in rare untouched cypress swamp

It’s Arbor Day! And despite a wee bit of life’s chaos, I couldn’t neglect our most amazing, most magnificent creatures. As caretakers of this beautiful sphere, it remains our utmost responsibility to honor, safeguard, and protect these living entities. Upwards of 5,000 years old, they’ve borne witness to the rise and fall of entire civilizations. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Plant a tree…Recycle…Go paperless…Follow conservation groups diligently working to protect these lovely, ancient living citadels. Or just show one some love and respect, and give it a nice hugggggg. 🙂

 

Cypress trees in the swamp, Florida Everglades

The always lovely cypress trees in the Everglades

A new trail....

A new trail….

Slash Pine Close-up

Slash pine close-up

Pine flatwoods vista

Pine flatwoods vista

Oak Trees of the Florida Trail, Jonathan Dickinson

The Gentlemen Oaks of the Florida Trail

Sunset tree

Sunset vista

Lovely cypress in winter

The fascinating cypress in winter

Looking up into the canopy of the hardwood swamp

The canopy of a hardwood swamp

Everyone loves trees!

Everyone loves trees!

Heart Tree, Fern Forest Nature Center, Broward County, Florida

Heart Tree!

A Heavenly Hardwood Swamp

Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God: But only he who sees takes off his shoes. —
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

In honor of the Victorian poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, who met after a long correspondence on May 20, 1845…and began one of the most celebrated love affairs in history. After much wooing, Browning finally convinced a shy and skeptical Barrett that he loved her “for naught except for love’s sake only.”

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I readily admit that my sense of direction is horrible. Which makes wanting to explore the more off-beaten trails a bit…difficult, to my family’s tremendous concern. There’s a lot of backtracking! But in visiting these places, a vision of natural Florida is allowed — and it’s divine.

Outside of the *ridiculous* number of gargantuan mosquitoes that swarmed as I carefully crept into this lovely swamp, it was a treat. I only hope that any human male who shows an interest in me in the future, will also understand my occasional mosquito attacks (not pretty). And the spider bites. And occasional wasp stings. I should seriously consider paramedics or forest rangers as potential dating material.

Cypress Swamp, Cypress Creek Natural Area, Florida

A still-dry cypress swamp in the Cypress Creek Natural Area

I recently hiked through one of my favorite habitats, a hardwood swamp. Various hardwood trees and a mixture of hardwoods and Cypress can be found here, including Water hickory, Holly, Maples, Oaks, Cabbage palms and Bay trees, accompanied by a dense understory of vines, ferns and herbaceous plants. Hardwood swamps occur on floodplains or upland areas that are lower than the surrounding area. And it’s home to so much life — the sounds coming from the trees were just lovely.

Hardwood Swamp, Cypress Creek Natural Area, Florida

Looking up into the canopy of the hardwood swamp

Yet another breathtakingly beautiful Florida habitat to witness and love — and above all else, protect and preserve.

Inside the Cypress Swamp

On the heels of Earth Day, I wanted to share an *internal* vision of one of the few remaining cypress swamps lining the Everglades…. It’s part of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, and I spend much time there — and you can probably see why. It’s utterly beautiful. Just magnificent. We’re tentatively leaving the dry season here in South Florida (our daily afternoon rains haven’t quite started — that will be May), but the swamp is slowly coming into its glory, thanks to some plentiful April rainfall.

Cypress Swamp, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

Cypress Swamp, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Like most of Florida’s cypress, this area was thoroughly logged in the ’40s — so while the trees aren’t first-generation cypress, they’re beautiful nonetheless — and thankfully, they’re now protected by various federal and state agencies! In this swamp, among the bald and pond cypress there are also pond apple trees, as well as different species of ferns, some twice as large as I stand. It’s just magical. I always picture this land covered by such a vista…. Which, in the human timeline, wasn’t that long ago.

Cypress Swamp, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

A dense vista

This wetland habitat supports an incredible amount of life, although much less than it did in years past. Butterflies, alligator, snakes, frogs, bobcats, otter, birds of every variety, and raptors make their homes here. Larger predators, including panther and bear, would have freely roamed. And it’s fantastic: You may HEAR the Great-horned owl, but try finding him. If you’re not quiet and gentle out there — and observant — you’ll miss everything.

Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius)

Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius)

Dragonfly in Cypress Swamp, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

Glowing dragonfly

Southern Leopard Frog, Cypress Swamp, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

A Southern leopard frog just missed his meal ticket of a dragonfly, but hasn’t given up… Using his PERFECT camouflage

Red-bellied Cooter (Turtle), Cypress Swamp, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

A Red-bellied Cooter sunning on a fallen log in the swamp = JOY!

Black Racer Snake, Cypress Swamp, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

A well-hidden and quite harmless Black racer tries to sleep

Cypress Swamp, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

Looking up into the beautiful young cypress trees of the swamp

Tree Tuesday: Flatwoods to Swamp

Often on hikes through the South Florida pine flatwoods, you’ll stumble across other ecosytems. The flatwood environment itself is layered, with high canopies of pines, a lower shrubby layer, and an herbaceous layer — but it’s dotted with cypress domes (a cypress swamp in the shape of a dome), prairies, marshes, and other habitats. Truly a fascinating ecosystem.

Unfortunately, developers continue to find flatwoods attractive for development: the vast expanses of flat land are too tempting, as is the ease in cutting and clearing its enormous swaths. But it’s critical to remember all the life this land supports — as well as the various other habitats that are intricately woven together here.

Pine Flatwoods of Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Florida

Pine flatwoods vista

Slash Pine of the Atlantic Ridge Preserve State Park, Florida

Slash Pine: Ready for my close-up

Flatwoods to Swamp Along the Florida Trail, Florida

Heading from the flatwoods into the swamp, along the Florida Trail

Cypress Trees in the Swamp, Florida Everglades

Ever-lovely cypress of the swamp

A New Trail, Seabranch Preserve State Park, Florida

From flatwood, to prairie, to….

And an extra for Tree Tuesday — I can’t get enough of this cartoon….

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Tree Tuesday: The Palm, in Retro

Palm and coconut trees have surrounded me throughout my life — first in Florida, then overseas in the South Pacific, and then again in Florida. As children, my brother and I took hammers and screwdrivers to coconuts we’d salvage from the trees on the island, in a valiant effort to break them open. It’s a wonder that more serious injuries weren’t committed. My poor mother.

So in honor of the ever-flexible and almighty palm, bending amid hurricane-force winds and not just surviving, but thriving…. Here are a few retro images. I blew one up for my mother, another military (Navy) brat who spent time at Punahou School on Oahu as a child.

Retro Palm Tree, Florida

Retro Palm Tree, Florida

Retro Palm Tree, Florida

Retro Palm Tree, Florida

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