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Understanding Human Connections to Our Planet: Biodiversity, Native Plants, and Applied Ecological Services

Webinar replay from April 18, 2024

When we typically look at the landscapes in our neighborhoods, city streets, and shopping centers, what do we see? Do we see landscapes that provide a trophic level of habitat which processes our storm water and remediates pollutants? Do these landscapes bring a sense of place by reflecting the natural communities of the region? The answer is no.

Our vision and sense of aesthetics for landscapes has been shaped by marketed expectations toward sterile landscapes that are the single biggest consumer and polluter of water, that have high carbon footprint and are kept chemically frozen in time. These landscapes are a desert for wildlife such as pollinators and birds. The loss of habitat and environmental degradation are manifest by development with increased impervious surfaces resulting in intense storm water runoff, erosion, and increased pollutants entering our soils and water.

Sustainable Meadow

How do we reverse this paradigm from traditional sterile landscapes to acceptance of diverse native landscapes? Why is it important to consider our landscapes as ecosystems? How can we utilize and apply the science of mycoremedation and phytoremediation to heal our soils and clean our water?

Rick Huffman’s program will frame the paradigm shift in designing and implementing landscapes that are ecologically diverse and that function to support wildlife as applied ecology. Mr. Huffman will demonstrate that by using a holistic approach to design and create living systems of soils, native plants, fungi, and bacteria we can reverse the current paradigm. Through the process, we expand our awareness of applied science thus creating an understanding, awareness, and acceptance of a different way of producing high quality, visually pleasing landscapes that give back by supporting all trophic levels of our landscape ecology.

Rick Huffman is principal and founder of Earth Design Inc., a leading Environmental Design and Landscape Architecture firm. With over 30 years of experience in landscape design, horticulture, bioengineering, and ecology, Mr. Huffman has particular expertise in native plants as they occur in natural models. As founder and past-president of the South Carolina Native Plant Society, he has brought awareness of these natural models to the public through presentations and workshops on a statewide and regional level. Mr. Huffman has a strong commitment to education and has worked with local schools and has conducted numerous environmental education workshops for the South Carolina Wildlife Federations Schoolyard Habitat Program, the Environmental Educators Association of South Carolina (EEAC), and the South Carolina Marine Educators Association (SCMEA). Mr. Huffman is a member of The American Society of Landscape Architects and is active in the US Green Building Council’s South Carolina Chapter. He was named the Upstate Forever Volunteer of the Year for 2010 and he received the 2003 Environmental Educator of the Year Award from the Environmental Educators Association of South Carolina. In 2006, Mr. Huffman received the Governor’s Award for Environmental Awareness for his educational outreach and conservation efforts across the state.

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