Many of you may have heard the romantic terms “Emerald Necklace” or “Green Necklace” used to define continuous areas of green spaces plotted through an urban setting. These descriptive phrases came to mind recently at a land trust program led by Mack Phinney. The theme of the program was inviting nature into our own backyards. Early on in his presentation, Mack reminded us that nature knows no boundary limits. We can pretend that if a habitat is destroyed in one part of town but offset by the purchase of acres on the other side, that we have somehow appeased Mother Nature. But in reality, some bit of life from the one depended on a bit of life in the other and we have only succeeded in stressing an already tenuous existence. Take, for example, what in reality is an imagined sheltered status of vernal pools in Massachusetts. Humans paint false boundaries around them and label them legally “protected.” Wood frogs, meanwhile, mate and lay eggs in the pool, but then migrate their way out into surrounding uplands for the rest of the year. Protecting only the pool has not protected the frog.
Another species facing similar difficulties thanks to our somewhat erratic protections is the bee. While scientists work furiously to determine the causes behind massive die-offs, individual homeowners could be destroying bees’ early spring food supplies by applying chemicals to so-called “weeds.” Saving dandelions and clover in our own backyards is a simple, free way to assist the bees as they work their way across our property lines.
I like to think of the properties protected by the Wareham Land Trust as our own Green Necklace. The more we all work together to link open space to open space…the more opportunities we have to protect the environment (which we are not separated from—protecting the natural world protects OUR existence as well). I hope to continue to look at the map in the land trust office and see more and more areas filled in with green, representing WLT ownership or conservation restrictions. If we must insist on creating lines on the land, let’s try to give nature a hand by filling in as many connections with the right color as we can.