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"The problem of the 21st century is how to live good and just lives within limits, in harmony with the earth and each other. Great cities can rise out of cruelty, deviousness, and a refusal to be bounded. Livable cities can only be sustained out of humility, compassion, and acceptance of the concept of 'enough.'"

Before Europeans arrived, Maryland was 95% forests fringed by wetlands. These lands were once home to bison, elk, gray wolves and even mountain lions. But the majority of species we recognize around us now were imported by European settlers - pigs, cows, chickens, dogs, most of the plants, crops...and so on. 180 plant species and 35 animal species have been extinguished and another 310 plant and 165 animal species are rare, threatened or endangered. We consume more land for less people now, and the effects of forest fragmentation are severe, leaving islands of forest divided by roads and development, making it increasingly difficult for other species of life to survive our impact.

In forest fragments the system changes radically, hotter at the edge, less moisture in the soils, higher wind speeds which fell more trees because they have lost the support of the whole. Noise drowns the cues wildlife need for setting up territories, courtship, mating, or finding young when they are separated. Preditors take charge of these disturbed areas. And we lose the warblers that need deep forest to reproduce successfully. As for us, we lose the beauty, sanctity, connection to the natural world which nurtures our souls.

But we will have a golden opportunity to take a step toward salvation! Using Geographic Information Systems, 'Green Infrastructure' has been identified throughout Maryland, the interconnected areas of forest, wetlands, sensitive species areas, that provide flood protection, aquifer recharge, riparian corridors, carbon sequestration, the physical, aesthetic, spiritual context for our lives - and for thousands of other species.

These 'green infrastructure' areas are mapped and justified based on their specific characteristics, size, and character. Together they form an integrated pattern for the entire state, which local citizens can investigate, add to, characterize from their own knowledge, prioritize and preserve! What a gift of information! What a gift of life! Seven generations into the future, our childrens' grandchildren will be able to look back to this moment and say, "That was the real beginning of our time."

 


 

 

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