26 February 2012

Plants and Stormwater - Cleaning Urban Runoff

Plants provide many benefits to the Urban Core city areas.  Carbon sequestration, oxygen production, nutrient uptake, urban heat island effect moderation, habitat creation, landscape beauty creation are all benefits of having plants grow in the Urban Core.

City plants are exceptionally effective in cleaning stormwater,  capturing trash, filtering nitrogen, phosphorous and toxic heavy metals.  Cleaning stormwater before the runoff reaches creeks, rivers and oceans is important.  At stake is the continued health of not only aquatic life, but the health of the entire planet.

Plants surrounding stormwater pipes filter out trash and nutrients
Plants provide habitat, sequester carbon & remove pollutants

In the above photo, stormwater runoff from the University of North Florida (UNF) parking lot drains into the swale vegetated with native herbaceous groundcovers including Frog Fruit (Phyla or Lippia), Dollarweed (Hydrocotyle) and other species.

The runoff filters into the soils and the surrounding plant roots act biologically to remove nitrogen, phosphorous and other pollutants.

During hard storms, the excess stormwater runoff overflows into a larger, wet-meadow type system.  In this system plants and trees such as Cypress, Wax Myrtle, Muhly Grass and Andropogon conduct the same nutrient uptake and evapo-transpiration processes yet on a larger scale.

Ultimately, the bio-retention system replaces open-water, mosquito breeding ponds.  The UNF system efficiently accomplishes stormwater cleansing, provides wildlife with communal habitat and foraging stock, and creates a pallet of native beauty.

Even grass and lawn can help filter and clean runoff

Plants and stormwater infrastructure can be easily integrated into Urban Core master planning.  Use of native plant species should be considered because native plants are adapted to growing in the Urban Core environments, compatible with native soils and tolerant of local weather patterns.

There are many useful publications and design manuals available on the internet including a great pdf manual about plants and stormwater published by the state of Minnesota.  

Stormwater pipes do not have to be surrounded by asphalt and concrete.  Designing infrastructure around nature's perfected filtration system using native plants can provide many benefits!

23 August 2011

August 23, 2011 Green Roof Biodiversity, Rooftop Garden, Breaking Ground Contracting, Jacksonville - Kevin Songer - Picasa Web Albums

August 23, 2011 Green Roof Biodiversity, Rooftop Garden, Breaking Ground Contracting, Jacksonville - Kevin Songer - Picasa Web Albums

Gulf Fritillary on the Green ROof

Check out these photographs from the Breaking Ground Green Roof yesterday afternoon. The Green Roof always looks different at various times of the day, morning, noon and evening.

26 April 2011

The Urban Araras

Endangered, the Blue-and-yellow-Makaws (Arara ararauna) or araras, as people call them here in Brazil, are large birds. They may reach a lengh of 33 inches, from the beak to the end of the tailfeathers and may live for 60 years, or more.

The araras are active birds and love to climb, swing, bounce and chew. Their toys should be strong, for they are known to be destructive. They have powerful jaw muscles, and chewing is necessary to keep them healthy and in shape.

Their sociability and even temperaments make them great pets. Their intelligence, willingness to learn, and talking abilities only help make them more precious in the eyes of bird lovers. The Blue-and-yellow-Makaw, like most parrots, thrives on attention from its owner and will form a steady bond with its family members (about.com)

The makaws generally mate for life. Their nest is a tree hole and the female typically lays 2 or 3 eggs. The female incubates the eggs for about 28 days, and the chick fledges from the nest about 90 days after hatching.

Ticuna & Uaiuai starting their day

I personally, have been having a joyful experience with a couple of this species:

Ticuna and Uaiuai belong to the owner of a restaurant by the lagoon, where I usually workout when I have time; and Uaiuai (the male) has learned my name. Whenever he notices me from afar, he starts screaming it really loud! This made me smile when I listened to it for the first time. But yesterday, I remarked that the single scream had turned into a "chorus". The extravagant blue-and-yellow couple was leading a bunch of kids I had never met before! O...o, araras can be fussy, indeed!!

Ticuna & Uaiuai by the sunset

Araras are such beautiful birds, but according to most bird experts they're not for everybody. Space and exercise may not be enough for a species that is prone to ear-shattering vocalizations and contact calls. Before choosing an arara as a pet, one should study and evaluate circustances. Especially if the bird is going to live in an urban environment.

And here I am, heading to the lagoon again.. Let's see what the surprise is for today....

02 April 2011

Parque do Carbono / CO2 Park

The world's largest urban natural forest is alive!


Four hundred and ten thousand seedlings of 50 different local species are to be planted to recover degraded spots at Pedra Branca State Park - just for the start.

Camorim lagoon and the white rock - from where the name of the park is originated

Pedra Branca State Park is a state protected area in the west zone of the city of Rio de Janeiro, comprehending 125 km2 of the Atlantic forest biome, and is where the highest point of the city, Maciço da Pedra Branca (1 024 m), is located.

Camorim waterfall

This green area contributes to biodiversity conservation and benefits the regional microclimate, preventing erosion and landslides. The reforestation aims to help preserve the water basins and the rich fauna and flora with their ecosystems

A view from Maciço da Pedra Branca

It was in the mid XIX century, when the city of Rio was going through serious droughts as a consequence of deforestation, that the Emperor D. Pedro II demanded the reforestation of the Tijuca barren hills, up north of town, (where Christ the Redeemer on the Corcovado mountain is placed). For this pioneer ecological event, seedlings were collected at what is now being called CO2 Park.

circuito das águas

At its own turn, Pedra Branca State Park is getting ready to meet the goal of receiving at least twenty four million seedlings for reforestation and be officially renamed

Parque do Carbono (CO2 Park).

The neighborhoods next to the park

28 March 2011

Tufted Titmouse, Orchard Spider and Florida Springtime, Urban Biodiversity

I finished working with the green roof plants this afternoon and sat on the back porch to watch the sun go down.  The garden flowers shown in the afternoon sun as did the lone orchid spider and the bathing tufted titmouse!  Urban wildlife at its finest!
Orchid Spider, Leucauge venusta

Tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor

Tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor

Tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor

Tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor

Spring in Florida Garden!