Tag Archives: Hawaii

Volunteers See the Forest for the Trees

IMG_1108Photo by Robert Barossi

by Robert Barossi

A little searching this morning revealed a number of forest-related volunteer stories. Tree planting and forest protection are among the most common, and most important, environmental volunteer tasks. And its happening everywhere.

In Washington, numerous volunteers, including Friends of North Creek Forest and students from University of Washington, have gathered to restore the North Creek Forest.

In Encinitas, near San Diego, community volunteers planted a “Food Forest” of fauna which will provide food for the surrounding community.

On the other side of the country, in Lafayette, Louisiana, volunteers are planting a similar forest of fruit trees at Acadiana Park Nature Station.

Finally, back in the other direction, even farther away, volunteers are planting trees in Hawaii to rebuild a forest area destroyed by fire.

For many more stories of environmental volunteers, download my eBook – Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day

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Volunteers and Coral Bleaching

P1000689

(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

On the radio this morning, there was a discussion about the massive coral bleaching event currently taking place around the world. Coral bleaching is caused when environmental conditions, such as water temperature and acidity, cause coral reefs to become stressed. The stress causes the coral to release a symbiotic algae which is what gives them their color and provides nutrients, a loss which causes the coral to become weakened.  If this leads to major coral reef deaths, it can and will seriously impact the ecosystem of our oceans and the other species who live in and among the coral reefs. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explains it here and there are news stories from the BBC and Washington Post detailing the worldwide coral crisis. How does this relate to environmental volunteers, you ask? It’s volunteers who are now working to monitor coral reefs in their area, watching carefully for bleaching among their local reefs. This story out of Hawaii discusses a volunteer event aimed at training people to monitor coral reefs and report to the Eyes of The Reef Network. Here’s another story and one more about the event, which is being called Bleachapalooza. Very similar events will likely be needed around the world as coral bleaching continues and worsens.

If you have enjoyed the stories on this blog, download my eBook – Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day. Available at the following links.

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A Whale of a Volunteer Effort

ID-100295257(Photo by rhamm, courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

by Robert Barossi

Here in New England, there’s another major winter storm bearing down on us. This one is expected to dump another foot of snow, perhaps more, on top of the snow that fell earlier this week. With the falling snow and the beautiful, chilly winter wonderland all around us, it’s another good day to post a story out of somewhere tropical. This one comes from Hawaii, where volunteers are playing a major role in counting humpback whales and recording their behavior. According to the story, the program “allows the public to learn more about humpback whale population, distribution and behavioral trends.” The data they collect can be used by local and national organizations and is integral to monitoring and studying the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.This important program has been going on since 1996 and now includes some 2,000 volunteers who monitor the whales at more than sixty locations.

If you have enjoyed any of the stories on my blog, check out my eBook, Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day.

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Volunteering for National Public Lands Day

IMG_2763(Photo by Robert Barossi)

by Robert Barossi

I have to confess, I had no idea that it was recently National Public Lands Day, an annual event now in it’s 21st year. This nationwide event, which occurred a few weeks ago on September 27th, included thousands of volunteers doing some amazing work across the country. Last year, events took place at over two thousand sites, where volunteers did everything from removing invasive species to repairing and maintaining trails. This blog from the U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that the Forest Service waived fees in an effort to encourage more people to join in the efforts. The National Public Lands Day website offers lots of information including ways for people to stay involved after the event. Locally, there were many events and calls put out for volunteers, all the way across the country, from these events in Alaska and in Hawaii, to these stories out of Pennsylvania and New Orleans. There are many other stories out there about all the events that no doubt made the day a huge success and a major win for our public lands.

Crowdsourcing for Invasive Species

ID-1005975Photo by Liz Noffsinger, Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Robert Barossi

This is one of the most exciting and fascinating volunteer stories I’ve come across recently. I had never even heard of eco-crowdsourcing until now, but in this day and age, modern technology being what it is, it makes perfect sense. As this story details, there is a project underway in Hawaii that allows volunteers to use an online crowdsourcing platform to pinpoint invasive species. By pouring over images taken from above, these volunteers are able to tag locations where invasive species are occurring, which gives organizations like The Nature Conservancy an exact location to focus their efforts. The work of these volunteers amounts to “20% of the users do 80% of the work, spending hours on the platform, scouring images for the invasive plants,” according to the article. There is exciting potential in this kind of crowdsourcing, from mapping invasive species to helping protect endangered species, and it’s clear evidence that not only can today’s technology help achieve environmental goals, it can and must be an essential and integral aspect of achieving those goals.

The page specifically for the initiative in Hawaii, called “The Hawaii Challenge,” can be found here, at Tomnod