Pattern Language on Native Biodiversity, Wildlife, and Fisheries


Pattern Language on Native Biodiversity, Wildlife, and Fisheries

1.  Because the rich biodiversity of WWC is integral to the environmental legacy of the college, because the earth is experiencing a steady decline of biodiversity, and because the Southern Appalachian area is one of the chief centers of biodiversity in the U.S., there is an imperative to conserve native biodiversity, fisheries, wildlife, and other genetic resources on Warren Wilson College property.


2.  To guide these conservation and wildlife enhancement efforts there should be an ongoing effort to maintain a college-wide biodiversity and wildlife management plan that is integrated with other land management uses (farm, garden, forest, landscaping, archeological, recreation, development). 


3.  Because wetlands, ponds, streams, rivers, and riparian zones (vegetated buffer zones) have the greatest wildlife, fisheries, and biodiversity value, serve as migration corridors, and play an important role in maintaining water quality, conservation and enhancement of these areas will do the most to provide for biodiversity  For these reason:


a.  the college needs to adopt a no net loss of wetlands policy on its property.   Wetlands and waters should be defined and protected by current federal standards.  Wetlands are defined by having the following three attributes:


i.  the substrate is predominantly undrained hydric soil.

ii.  the substrate is nonsoil and is saturated with water or covered by shallow water at some time during the growing season of each year.

iii.  at least periodically, the land supports predominantly hydrophytes.


b.  riparian zones around college rivers, wet areas, streams, and ponds should be maintained or enhanced for conservation of biodiversity whenever possible but at widths appropriate to conditions.


c.  erosion, sediment, and pollution control needs to receive high priority in and around campus streams, rivers, and ponds to protect water quality.


d.  there should be no more permanent buildings in the 50 year floodplains of permanent streams.


e.  efforts should be made to minimize the use of streams by domestic animals.


4.  The forest and agricultural lands are other integral areas for conservation of biodiversity, fisheries, and wildlife.  For this reason, loss of acreage of forest and agricultural land on the WWC property should be minimized.  Efforts to minimize sprawl, fragmentation, and areas of disturbance around built structures will also enhance conservation.


5.  Because the forest is integral to biodiversity conservation efforts, forest management activities should work in consultation with appropriate faculty members who have conservation biology expertise.  In general, the forest would best serve biodiversity, fisheries, and wildlife conservation as follows:


a.  include a range of tree sizes, conditions (e.g., decayed and cavity-bearing along with living and straight), ages, structural complexity, native species, and mast bearing species.


b. retain brush piles, pits and mounds, native understory vegetation and fallen trees, logs, and branches especially in riparian zones to provide habitat for fungi, invertebrates, small mammals, lichens, mosses, reptiles and amphibians.  This should be done as long as it does not cause undo fire risk.


c.  held the conservation of biodiversity, fisheries, and wildlife as the highest priority especially in riparian zones.


6.  Because agricultural lands are integral to conservation efforts, agricultural management activities should work when appropriate in consultation with faculty members who have conservation biology expertise.  In general, agricultural areas would best serve biodiversity, fisheries, wildlife, and other genetic resources conservation as follows:


a.  purposeful conservation of agroecosystem (agricultural ecosystem) biodiverisy and the processes of evolution and adaptation of crops and livestock to their environments.  This includes both immediately useful species (such as cultivated crops, ofrages, livestock), as well as their wild and weedy relatives that may be growing nearby.  Agricultural management systems should strive to link value-added farming with genetic conservation to effectively compliment regional and national efforts to conserve agricultural biodiversity ex situ (e.g. in seed banks and genetic respositories).  Some guiding principles regarding on-farm conservation include:


i.  maintenance of a large and diverse variety/breed population structure and the record of selection criteria that is used on genetic stock.

ii.  crops and livestock with wild, hybridizing or weedy relatives nearby are especially important for conserving rare genes and/or alleles.


b.  careful conservation of edge (early successional vegetative habitat) when appropriate especially in wet areas.  The creation of edge habitat on the agricultural and forest lands, should be considered carefully.  The subject of edge habitat is complex and there is more than one kind of edge. Well placed edge can greatly enhance wildlife populations and biodiversity.  Poorly placed edge can invite nest parasitism and destruction from midsized predators that penetrate into forest interiors.  Some guiding principles regarding edge habitat include: 


c.  retention of fence row vegetation, hedgerows, and field margins when appropriate which can act as nesting areas, feeding zones, and migration corridors for small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, and invertebrates.


d.  retention of a variety of masting species (those that produce hard and soft fruits eaten by wildlife) to provide necessary food and cover.


7.  Biodiversity conservation would best be served if a landscape level approach is used in long range planning.  This means that planners should consider the Warren Wilson College property in relation to other property in the Swannanoa Valley as it gives attention to fragmentation, shape of its forest, wildlife corridors, buffering of forest areas, and protection of forest interior habitat.


8.  Impacts which compromise wildlife values should be minimized.  Wildlife should not generally be encouraged to be habituated to humans and human food and garbage.  Dogs, cats, and domestic animals should be kept out of zones that are particularly important to wildlife. 


9.  Hunting is prohibited for all college lands and will be posted to insure the safety and recreation values of the campus. 


Glossary to key terms:


Biodiversity – biological diversity including genetic, species, ecosystem, cultural, and landscape diversity.


Wetlands – shallow areas at the interface between land and water.


Riparian Zones – the area of land that is adjacent to a stream or river


Floodplains – a flat plain bordering a river and subject to flooding


Edge habitat – an area where one type of habitat meets and blends with another.  Shrubby and grassy vegetation is usually the dominant vegetation.