Complexities of Urban Cleanup

Posted by on Jul 9, 2015 | 0 comments

I know that Becca has been doing some work on the Gowanis Canal as a personal project.  I found this article that provides some in-depth analysis on waste removal in the Gowanus Canal. This article suggests a couple of options for treatment, including the use of Chrysopogon Zizanioides or Vetiveria zizanioides also known as vitivegrass. This grass has considerably high potential to become invasive.

The use of native plants for cleanup is underway, but funding is limited for this type of research, it is difficult to find useful results, and it will take some time to develop strategies using native plants for different ecoregions. This article on the use of prickly pear cactus species in the San Joaquin Valley in CA discusses some of the problems with introducing non-native species – and the common problem that native species are often not even considered in research. And this research form UMass is already fourteen years old, and I couldn’t find the results.

I’d like to ask if you consider it an acceptable risk to treat a highly polluted area by planting this grass, despite the potential for the plant to escape.

  • What are the longterm ramifications of plant invasions versus longterm pollution of this magnitude?
  • Are there native plant options with the same cleanup characteristics?
  • Should we always assume that native plants are the best or only option for remediation efforts based on our current understanding of ecology?
  • Is it reasonable to expect science to be able to quantify the benefits and risks of using native and non-native plants? How long would this research take and is it feasible to wait for the results?
  • What criteria would you use to decide if a certain treatment plan is acceptable or not (whether native or non-native plant, or technology-based)?

If you have found useful information on using native plants for remediation, especially practical methodology, please share it!



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