Next Wednesday, May 22, is International Day of Biodiversity, and while it’s not a Hallmark holiday, it is a great opportunity to awaken your curiosity and start exploring five natural areas in northwest Indiana.
Here are five areas very accessible to the public and are great for exploring and for family fun:
The dune and swale preserves in northern Lake County contain the highest concentration of threatened and endangered plant and animal species found anywhere in Indiana. Scientists from all over the world come yearly to study the more than 17 habitats that can be found in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which ranks in the top five national parks in the U.S. for plant and animal diversity, and has more than 1,100 vascular plant species.
“This is the perfect time of the year to hike in these preserves and experience biodiversity,” said Susan MiHalo, Conservation Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy. “Many spring wildflowers, such as wild lupine, should be showing their colors, and if you go early in the morning you’ll be treated to a great many birds calling.” Susan also advises that the best way to enjoy your experience is to slow down, listen for sounds, look for patterns and color, and tread carefully as to not disturb wildlife. Susan sums it up like this: “Challenge yourself to use all of your senses.”
According to Doug Tallemy, author of the book Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, biodiversity is the life support system for the earth: “It is biodiversity that generates oxygen and clean water; that creates topsoil out of rock and buffers extreme weather events like droughts and floods; and that recycles the mountains of garbage we create every day.”
Declared by the United Nations, the International Day for Biological Diversity aims to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. Biodiversity can be measured by the number and variety of natural communities that exist together in a given area, such as the oak savannas, marshes and wetlands found in the Dune and Swale Complex of Northwest Indiana.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.