Friday, October 11, 2013

F.N.P.S.: A Science-based Organization

(top) Student recording data for a restoration
project funded in part by FNPS Conservation
grants. (bottom) The project focus: Harrisia
fragrans
, a rare, night-blooming native cactus.
Photos by Jon Moore.

by Juliet Rynear, Conservation Committee Chair

Whenever I hear a F.N.P.S. member say, "landscaping has nothing to do with science," or, "nothing to do with policy," I cringe in horror. The reality of our organization is that there is science behind science has everything we do, every policy we draft, and every function we perform. If the words "science" or "scientist" intimidate you, then it's time for a reality check. We all utilize and apply science on a daily basis, often without our conscious awareness.

Even if your primary interest is landscaping with native plants, please realize that horticulture is a science and landscaping is an applied science. Successfully growing and landscaping with native plants requires knowledge and understanding of the natural community which is native to the planting site and of the plant species that have evolved within that community. And, as with any type of gardening, knowledge of the soil type is essential. 

Volunteers surveying Seminole State Forest
after a prescribed burn. Photo by Jackie Rolly.
The best way to get to know any of Florida's natural communities is to experience them personally. If you have not yet had the opportunity to work "in the field" alongside professional land managers, botanists, students, or scientists, I encourage you to give it a try. There are many opportunities available to F.N.P.S. members, including Land Management Reviews, habitat studies, rare plant monitoring, and many others.

If you can't get outdoors don't worry, F.N.P.S. provides many opportunities for you to help fulfill our mission. You can join the Policy Committee or sign up for F.N.P.S. Action Alerts and help promote science-based policies that will protect our natural resources.     

Congratulations, you are a citizen-scientist!

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