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Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Big Picture: Fences

Building on the ideas I presented in one of my old posts, The Big Picture: Opposites, I'm using photos of fence lines to demonstrate how the way we use the land impacts the environment:

Even from a distance, we can see a striking visual difference  between the left side of the fence where the flowers are thriving on the hillside, and the right side of the fence where they have been either suppressed or eliminated. If we were to look closer, we would probably also find several other species of plants in the same situation. So what's the difference between the two sides of the fence? The left side is largely untouched, while the right side has been grazed for years by just a few horses.

In this image we see the difference between a cattle ranch (left) and a Wildlife Management Area (right). Even if cattle don't eat a particular plant, they can easily kill it off by trampling it down. If you look closely, you can see how there is a clear cut bank on the right, but on the left it is flattened out and broken down. It may not be much of an issue in this particular case, but in many areas this type of impact can actually have significant negative effects on water quality and habitat for other species.

These are just a couple examples I came across in my work. When you are out and about, try paying attention to the opposite sides of the fences you come across and think about the differences between those two sides.

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