To learn more about Environmental Studies' programs, please visit their website at www.envstudies.org
Environmental Studies on the Piedmont (ES) works to integrate nature with human activity and development needs so that natural resources are sustainably renewed and available to be enjoyed by future generations. ES believes this depends on bringing scientists and the public together in partnership. To do this, ES encourages community participation in their research though hands-on education and volunteer programs. ES invites the public, K-12 teachers, university faculty, researchers and other interested groups to utilize the Clifton field station which includes upland forest, meadow, wetland, vernal pool, stream, pond and small lake habitats.
ES conducts internationally recognized research with swans and other waterfowl, promotes wildlife conservation and offers educational programs to scientists, students of all ages and the general public.
The key elements of their work are listed below.
Birds and Avian Research
There are 36 documented, and probably more, species of birds on the Clifton field station. At least 44% of them are neo-tropical migrants attracted by the early successional deciduous forest habitat, which, according to the American Bird Conservancy, is one of the 10 top endangered bird habitats.
Wildlife in the Virginia Piedmont is generally less well studied than that in the coastal plain or in the mountains. By documenting how the Piedmont resources are used by birds (year round and migrating), sound conservation practices can be exercised on the field station and ES can recommend to landowners, developers and government agencies new ways to better protect Piedmont wildlife.
Bees and Honey
Honeybees are important pollinators for many native plants and are critical for food crops. Globally, bee populations are decreasing dramatically, which inflates the price of agricultural products and may seriously impair future food production.
Environmental Studies is involved in research using local bee populations to promote sustainable agricultural practices. ES currently maintains 40 hives in three apiaries, with plans to expand to 300 hives in ten apiaries in the future. ES honey is sold in local shops and restaurants and generates income for the project.
The Clifton field station is located on 914 acres of diverse habitats that have been placed in a Conservation Easement, preserving the land from development for the benefit of Piedmont wildlife.
Early successional field habitats and the wildlife, which flourish in this environment, are disappearing, either to development or to maturity due to ecological succession. ES maintains this habitat for the Northern Bobwhite Quail, Yellow Breasted Chat, Field Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Henslow's Sparrow. Wild Turkey, Woodcock and the Brown Thrasher. Our open water provides habitat for Wood Duck, Black Duck, Box Turtles, both Jefferson and Spotted Salamanders and our Swan population. Wooded areas are home to White-tailed Deer, as well as a number of other notable mammals, such as Black Bear, Mink, Short-tailed Weasel and Red and Gray Fox. ES participates in the Deer Management and Assistance Program (DMAP), which is a long-term nationwide research and management program.
The disappearance of early successional field habitats is a serious threat to biodiversity in Virginia. Twenty-six percent of Virginia's birds dependent on this type of habitat are listed as Tier 1 (Species of Greatest Conservation Need) by the VA State Wildlife Action Plan. ES is committed to the difficult process of maintaining and restoring this vital ecological system for the benefit of nature enthusiasts, the local community and the environmental health of the Piedmont.
Piedmont Biodiversity Stewardship Council
The Piedmont Biodiversity Stewardship Council (PBSC) is a collective group of landowners in the Northern Piedmont focused on gathering and disseminating knowledge about existing biodiversity in our region. Utilizing the conserved land of many owners, the Council collectively enables sound scientific investigation of our landscape, resulting in the publication and dissemination of knowledge about wildlife, plants and other biota in our region. Through long-term monitoring, stewardship, owner participation and sound management, Council activities make significant contributions to enhancing our knowledge of the Northern Piedmont.
The PBSC is administered through Environmental Studies on the Piedmont. Council members have the opportunity to participate in a variety of ways, including involvement in planning and project management. The PBSC Steering Committee liaises with the community and represent the interests of the membership, the community and the environment.
Educational programs cover a broad range of activities across all age groups. ES outreach focus is on experiential-learning based programs, involving field trips, public events, guided tours and internships. Through K-12 field trips ES seeks to re-establish contact between youth and the natural world. Guided tours allow participants to learn quickly about nature and local ecosystems through short, high impact encounters with seasonal species. Public community events emphasize outdoor activities to stimulate interest in conservation of local natural resources. ES internship program provides invaluable practical experience to students planning careers in the field of conservation or biological research.
To learn more visit www.envstudies.org.