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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Woodlands Conservancy Delacroix Forest, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

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Woodlands Conservancy Delacroix Forest, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
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mlindell



Registered: December 2014
City/Town/Province: Plainview
Posts: 1
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On Saturday, March 22nd 2014, I volunteered at the Delacroix Forest of the Woodlands Conservancy. Along with students from other universities, I measured and documented the understory, canopy cover, tree height, tree diameter and the different types of invasive and native plant species in the forest. Working with the Woodlands Conservancy was a highly rewarding experience, in which I was able to gain knowledge on the impact of invasive species, a new understanding of the importance of land conservation in Louisiana and in general, and insight into what type of career I might want to have in the field of environmental conservation.
The term “invasive species” refers to any type of species that is non-native to a certain habitat and usually outcompetes the native species because it has no natural predator, giving it the ability to destroy a previously balanced ecosystem. The specific invasive species we dealt with at the Woodlands Conservancy consisted primarily of the Chinese Tallow and Privet. In certain areas the species completely took over the surrounding vegetation. The purpose of the service we did was to locate the invasive species in the forest in order to successfully eradicate them and stably restore the native plants. From this experience, I learned the exact negative impacts invasive species can have on their environment, such as creating a think understory making the land harder to navigate and harder for the native species to grow.
We completed two 100 meter transects in 7 hours. The first transect my group did was very hard to walk through due to the think coating of dead leaves and plants on the floor. We had to walk very slowly to make sure we were accurately recording all the information. The second transect we did was about 600 meters down the trail and was much more open underneath a think canopy layer. This transect had relatively no invasive species and was much easier to walk through, as well as much prettier. I learned that invasive species not only have negative effects on the immediate ecosystem, but can consequently also have negative impacts on surrounding areas too, by limiting the positive impacts the ecosystem would have on the surrounding land.
The main purpose of my service was to help gather data concerning the land demographics, specifically the location of the invasive species. Through this service project I learned the importance of conserving the Delacroix forest in particular. I learned that it’s a key feature in the Southwest Louisiana region, because it’s the last hardwood forest before the coast and acts as a barrier to soften the impact of storms and hurricanes, absorbing their surge before they hit New Orleans and surrounding areas. There used to be more forests south of New Orleans but due to human interference and erosion, they’ve turned into wetlands and swamps. It’s very important to conserve the Delacroix forest to avoid the possible damage that can be done by powerful storms. It can potentially help soften the blow of mass catastrophes such as Katrina in the future.
This service experience also gave me a better understanding of the work that goes into land and resource conversation in general. Before my experience, it didn’t occur to me that people had to actually go in to the land and survey what inhabited it, before they could begin efforts to conserve it. I learned that there’s a major statistical component to mapping out what areas have low/high concentrations of invasive species. The information we were collecting was to be used in a statistical analysis of the land, to determine exactly how much of it was covered with invasive species and what areas should have priority over others in eliminating them. I also learned that there are many types of research involved. Conservationists have to have knowledge of all native plants, as well as all possible non-native/invasive species that could potentially inhabit an area, and have basic knowledge of how to identify them. They also need to be able to identify if a plant or insect is poisonous, and know what to do if a surveyor is harmed while on the trail. A lot more math, research, and general knowledge go into adequately conserving an area than I initially thought.
I would definitely recommend this service experience to anyone in the greater New Orleans area looking to get involved with environmental planning and conservation. It was very educational and once you got used to the dirt and bugs, actually really fun! One part that was really cool was that we did the first surveys on this specific site, so we were doing something that was actually important, rather than watching other people do it or learning about it. We were out in the field doing the same thing that people who work there do. Overall, I learned a lot about the local ecosystems that surround New Orleans, what natural services they provide, and what efforts are being done to protect and conserve them.
· Date: December 31, 2014 · Views: 1905 · File size: 23.6kb, 377.1kb · : 923 x 691 ·
Hours Volunteered: 80
Volunteers: 8
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 to 22
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 10
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