Tag Archives: Adventure

Environmentalism in a UNESCO World Heritage Site

22 Aug Weed Team Member

In 1982, in recognition of the global significance of the island’s beauty and biodiversity, Lord Howe Island was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Just prior to that, The Lord Howe Island Act of 1981 was established which created a Permanent Park Preserve over approximately 70% of the island. Lord Howe Islanders are proud of the World Heritage designation and would do almost anything to preserve it.

Many programs and strategies have been introduced to protect the bio-diversity of this unique island including the 2004 establishment of The Lord Howe Island (LHI) Weed Eradication Program. This is a thirty-year plan to eliminate all non-endemic weeds from this island of fourteen-and-a-half-kilometers. A big part of this plan includes The Weed Team.

The Weed Team is a group of approximately ten-paid employees plus a variety of volunteers who are committed to removing non-endemic weeds which, if left to their own devices, will kill the rare plants which cover the hills of Lord Howe and take over the beautiful landscape. The Weed Team spends eight-hours per day, four-days per week, climbing into the hills on a search-and-destroy mission to eradicate very specific invasive weeds.

I had the opportunity to spend a day foraging through the jungle with the Weed Team and, let me tell you, these folks work hard; so hard that one can tell, they don’t simply do it for the money. These men and women are passionate about what they do.

We met in town at their garage behind the island’s board offices. I was provided with a backpack (though you should bring your own), some gloves, a tool-belt with clippers and a knife, and an empty weed-bag to fill.

We climb into their pick-up truck and head out to today’s grid. The island has been divided into hundreds of grids, which are marked by blue tape placed on trees, and a different grid is targeted each day. The Weed Team completes the full circuit every two-years. There are 670-non-native plants and, of those, 271 are considered invasive. The Weed Team eradication program targets the worst thirty-five.

Weed TeamToday’s grid is a fairly easily accessible one (I think they’ve chosen it as they knew I’d be joining them) and, after leaving the truck on a muddy hill (the truck begins sliding Weedssideways so we bale-out), we begin a ten-minute walk into the jungle-covered hills. Upon our arrival at today’s grid, I’m shown the two species of weeds which we’ll be pulling, and instructed on the proper way to dig them up and cut the roots off. There’s no need to bring the entire weed out of the jungle because, if we find a lot of them, our weed bags will become quite heavy. Simply carrying the root out of the jungle will prevent further spread.

While this is a planned thirty-year program, in the ten-years it’s been in existence, they’ve reduced these invasive weeds by eighty-percent. While many on the Weed Team are rock-climbers, not all areas of Lord Howe are accessible, even to them. In these cases, a helicopter is brought in for very targeted spraying of the weeds which has a minimal impact on other plant life.

We’re spread out on a search-line, much like ones formed by police when searching for missing people. Sometimes we walk, other times we crawl in order to make a thorough search of the jungle for the, sometimes, tiny weeds hiding under dead palm leaves.Weed TeamThe original weeds were mostly brought by visiting ships and from people’s gardens. They don’t belong here and, as they compete with other vegetation for sunlight, water and nutrients from the soil, some take over the food source for endemic, flightless, Lord Howe Wood Hens.

We break for tea and lunch, eating our packed snacks and sandwiches under the jungle canopy (mostly) hidden from the sudden rains. While sitting there, we report the number of each type of weed, and its stage of development to the team leader. After thirty-minutes, we’re back at it, on our hands and knees, using our knives to dig out the unwelcome weeds.Weed Team MemberThough the Weed Team is normally out there until 3:00pm, today is a short day in the jungle as they need to report to the museum for a required class. We hike out of the jungle, this time down slippery rocks, up hillsides, and through the jungle plants, which continuously tangle in our legs, before finally reaching the pick-up which has been moved to meet us.

Besides it’s UNESCO World Heritage designation, why is LHI so committed to this weed eradication? Well, again, there’s the protection of the Wood Hens. But there are also 238-native plants here and 113 of them exist only on Lord Howe Island. That’s pretty amazing in its own right and, considering the size of the island, well, it’s quite remarkable. The goal of the Weed Eradication Program is zero-weed density by 2034. Being an island, there is a very realistic possibility of complete eradication of non-endemic species.

You can volunteer on the LHI Weed Team, but there are things to keep in mind:

First, this is not a vacation. Sure you’ll get to enjoy the incredible scenery of this unique island, and even meet many of the 350 locals. And you’ll learn so much about the native plant and bird-life. But, make no mistake, the work is physical and you’ll work your butt off. Still, your three-week volunteer experience will include your lodging and a small food stipend. And you’re sure to be in great physical shape after this. If you’re interested in the Weed Eradication Program, or in volunteering, or in any other LHI information, please visit http://www.lhib.nsw.gov.au/ for more information.

 

Voting is Up and Running Again

19 Oct

Well here we are again.  Announcing that voting is open.  I know what you’re thinking – in the great words of Yogi Berra, “It’s deja vu all over again.”  Well, yes.  But I thank you for your patience.  We’ve worked out the kinks (I hope) and any votes previously cast are included.

You may vote multiple times although it may take a minute to reload.  Voting will close at 11:59 Eastern time on October 30.  Then, as they say, the proverbial check will be in the mail.  But more importantly, what will the “Rebel” in you do to help simply because you can?  Whose life will you impact for good?  Start thinking about it and please feel free to share it in the comments.

In the meantime – VOTE HERE!

Voting Is Open

2 Oct

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  It’s not only been a geographical one across the country, but a spiritual one across economic gaps.

We’ve now come to the end – or perhaps this is just the beginning.  One goal of this project was to use my talent to help others.  We all have some talent.  I ask that you look inside yourself and figure out where your talents lie.  Is there a way to use that talent to make a positive change in this world?  We can all contribute, and it does not need to be cash.

Perhaps it’s time we stopped keeping score.  We can do good without thinking about what that person has done for us in the past or how they might help us in the future.  We can do good simply because we can. What I have discovered through this project is that when you begin to good simply for goodness sake, you are rewarded in ways you cannot imagine.  People share their story, which is the ultimate form of trust, and friends send endless supplies of kind words.  Finally, strangers find you and share similar goals.  You are also able to see the kindnesses that people begin to share with others through your inspiration.  There is no greater gift.

You’ve heard their stories, formed your opinion and now it’s time for you to vote Just click “Vote” at the bottom.  DIY Travel Deal has been kind enough to supply the poll and results.  You may vote for more than one person if you choose.  Just click again. Each must be done separately.  Voting closes at 11:59pm Eastern Time on October 15th.

Please remember that this vote is simply for whom I give $1,000 to.  If someone’s story has touched you and there is anyway you can help, please do so.  This does not mean contribute money to them; perhaps you can help them with a job, or a doctor or fulfill some other need.  Or perhaps it involves none of these people at all. Perhaps this has encouraged you to help someone else in need.

Please choose to vote.  And share the stories you have read.  Should you like to get in touch with any of those profiled you may feel free to E-mail me at crosen7646@yahoo.com.  Thank you for sharing this journey.  Please continue to share the goodness.

VOTE                                    

Stella – Stronger than a Hurricane

27 Sep

Stella lives in New Orleans. She has lived there all her life. While living in the 9th Ward, she experienced Hurricane Betsy in 1965. In 2005 she lived through Hurricane Katrina.

Stella comes from a large family with nine siblings. All lived close by. Her husband also has nine siblings. Stella’s husband is an Army and Air Force veteran with 20 years spent in the military. In 1997, when he was coaching an Air Force basketball team he was injured and was left a quadriplegic. Due to her husband’s condition Stella has a rule, “Anytime they have a hurricane that’s category two, I leave.”

When they received warning of Katrina they headed to Beaumont, Texas to stay with her husband’s brother. At first things were comfortable. Then more and more family members began arriving. In the end, 20 people were staying in the house. First reports were that the city had survived. But then the worst happened. “We weren’t expecting the levees to break,” she says. When they did, they were told it would be at least six months before they could return home.

“We all searched for places to rent.” They found one but, “as soon as we moved in we were evacuated for Rita.” So they found another hotel but were then told to go further north. “We got to feeling if we were going to die, let’s do it with family,” she says. So they went to San Antonio. There, the family stayed in a church. With them was everyone who had been in the house and more. There was no air conditioning but some n neighborhood ladies invited them to their houses to shower.

After two weeks in the church they went back to the rented house in Beaumont. They stayed there for just under two weeks before sneaking back to their own neighborhood which had been closed off. When they arrived, they were devastated to see that, of her family of ten and her husband’s family of ten, theirs was the only house left standing. So Stella invited all 30 people to stay with them. “As long as I had a place to share with others, I was very fortunate.” Stella and her husband even had a trailer put in the backyard to accommodate more people.

Eventually everyone moved out of her house. But it changed their family. All but one of Stella’s sibling’s decided not to return. “They don’t trust the politicians,” she says. “People say that they’re going to do for you and they don’t. The Corps of Engineers knew these levees weren’t strong.” Stella and her husband know the risks of where they live. “After Betsy in 65, I was always prepared. I lived in the 9th Ward then and we saw those bodies floating by.”

They stay because it’s their home, but they have a plan. Someone in the family is assigned to pick-up the small children, they have a pre-arranged meeting point and she keeps a hatchet by the door, just in case they need to climb up to the attic and exit through the roof.

Stella’s hope is that she’s taught her daughter to raise her children with character.

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