Appalachian Trail Environment Watch is a site designed to monitor environmental changes along the Appalachian Trail by trail users the trail. Our observers include hiking enthusiasts, day-hikers, thru-hikers, and scientists.
The goal of this site is to accumulate information on environmental changes that are happening along the Appalachian Trail. This will support the long-term study of climate change and its impact on the Appalachian Mountains.
We have chosen to use the Appalachian Trail as our area of research because it is widely used by thru-hikers, hikers,skiers, researchers, adventurers, and nature seekers throughout the year, it goes through the most populated area of the East Coast and covers 14 states. There are many changes taking place in the Appalachians which contain some of the most pristine forests and support ecological microclimates, vegetation and species that are found no where else in America. The terrain is changing with the large number of visitors the mountains experience, which can be detrimental to both the flora and fauna. we are interested in utilizing the large number of visitors on the trail and investigating the changes that are occurring due to climate change. Our goal is to gather observations from trail users, many of whom are familiar with the local flora and fauna and to compile this information for statistical analysis in order to determine what are the effects of climate change. This is a large-scale study that requires the participation of trail users, statisticians, and academics.
"There is more both of beauty and of raison d'etre in the works of nature - than in those of art."
-Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC) - De Partibus Animalium, I., 1, 5.
The Appalachian Trail Environment Watch came into existence because there are a lot of environmental changes currently occurring in the forests of the Appalachian mountains. The earth is warming at an accelerating rate. As of May 2016, the global temperature has increased by 0.87oC.Scientists are uncertain of what the effects of this warming will be on the flora and fauna. While there research on the of climate change on weather is being thoroughly studied, there is a dreath of knowledge and research on the local effects of climate change on flora and fauna and on ecological microclimates. There are a myriad of possible changes that can take place. Unfortunately, scientists are better able to predict what will happen to the climate and physical systems of the globe than what the changes to flora and fauna in a particular region. The goal of this project is to utilize the wealth of experience and observations of the thousands of people who visit the Appalachian mountains each year to determine what are some of the changes that are currently happening.As of now, there are too few studies aimed at researching the natural environment, and historically environmental studies have experience a paucity of governmental funding.Our goal is to create a concerted effort on the part of trail users and locals to study climate change. This data will be extremely important for scientists to determine how global warming is directly affecting our forests and what will those changes mean for the Eastern mountain ranges of the United States.
TOPICS OF CONCERN:
Topics of concern include: the spread of invasive species, mountaintop removal mining, effects of wind turbine placement on local ecosystems, increases and/or decreases in numbers of native flora and fauna, the close proximity of farms and urbanization on local flora and fauna, changes in patterns of migrations, increases in the frequency of hurricanes and forest fires, drying water sources, trail erosion from overuse etc.
1. Create a database of observations
2. Group data according to observation type
3. Group data according to region
4. Present data to scientists for analysis
Hikers' observations will contribute scientists to track changes that are currently occurring as well as determine ways to curb the effects of global warming.
WHICH OBSERVATIONS SHOULD YOU RECORD?
We are interested in ALL changes that are occurring in the Appalachians. Whether you are a hiker, scientist, or layperson who spends time outdoors, ALL observations are vital to monitoring the effects of global warming on the Appalachian Trail. We are particularly interested in changes that are not typically seen in year-to-year variation or with seasonal variation. For instance, if you notice that there is an absence of trout in a river this year, ask yourself if this has occurred in the past and if it occurred in more than one occasion or if it is unusual? Is it because the river levels are atypically low? However, if you think your that what you are observing is significant, it is important that you record it. The data will be analyzed by frequency.
HERBAL MEDICINE:Throughout the history of mankind, seeds have been the fundamental tool to the growth, survival and progression of civilizations, starting from the first hunters and gathers to the present era. Serving as a means to alleviate hunger, pain, and illness, plants rapidly opened the gates to herbal medicine. Today, natural remedies bought over the counter are mostly used for minor illnesses, such as aspirin (for fevers and headaches), chamomile tea (digestion and relaxation), gree tea, and other forms of herbal medicines.
However, many of the past remedies have been forgotten. For example, during the Halloween season, most people are unaware of the fact that pumpkin seeds once served as a remedy against tape-worms. Looking beautiful and bright orange carved pumpkins prompt fear and excitement, especially in children; in the night, disguised objects and forlorn houses, offer the wrong interpretation of its true value.
According to Michael A. Weiner, author of "Weiner's Herbal the Guide to Herb Medicine," pumpkin seeds have been thoroughly used as a folk medicine "almost in every culture for centuries as an aid to remove intestinal worms." Weiner, in 1980, had been the first and only person in the United States to hold a Ph.D. degree in Nutritional Ethnomedicine.
In his book, Weiner briefly outlines the history of the discovery of pumpkin seeds. Following the year of 1820, a Cuban physician tested pumpkin flesh and seeds, and discovered that the "treatment with the seeds, following a 12-hour fast, followed in 1 hour by a cup of tea, and by a brisk cathartic an hour after that, and finally by a hearty meal in two hour's time, was reportedly effective in expelling the tapeworm.
Seeds, unlike pumpkin flesh, produced quicker results, whereby pumpkin flesh had to be eaten a number of times before the remedy could have its successful outcome. In continuation of the pioneering of pumpkin's potency, in 1851 Richard Soule was the first to introduce the medicinal use of pumpkins into the United States.
Although pumpkins have even more medicinal remedies for other ailments, its historic cure for destroying tape and intestinal worms has been the most recognized phenomenon. Unfortunately, most people do not even know about this natural remedy. Neither schools nor universities (unless in a certain field) teach the evident healing effectiveness of this and other remarkable plants. How can we acquire forgotten knowledge? In traditional societies folk medicine was a common knowledge.
Seeds are precious; nevertheless it is quite remarkable that we are today depleted of seeds as our stores sell seedless fruits and vegetables. There are many natural remedies that one could read about and use as a cure at home. Though there are herbal medicine books available that lists every plant and its medicinal function, the majority of people are still not aware of the basic medicinal elements of seeds and plants.
GREEN PRODUCT PACKAGING:In today's modern economy, products such as candies, chocolates, granola bars and other goods - including produce and manufactured merchandise - are heavily packaged in plastic, tin foil and paper wrappings along with plastic or paper bags they are distributed in.
When I went to Guatemala earlier this year, a country ranking next to Bolivia for having the largest indigenous population in the Americas, I was able to see a more traditional and green method of selling commodities. For example, on Lake Atitlan, indigenous women use banana or palm leaves to wrap produce, such as fresh strawberries or black berries. Candies are sold without wrappings. Similarly, in Antigua and other cities in Guatemala, at the local marketplace vendors sell maize with lime and salt, which are typically sold folded in leaves in a little packet. In addition tamales, Guatemala's most common speciality - corn meal mixed with black beans, pork or chicken - are vended to customers wrapped in leaves.