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Ecological Characteristics of the Silver Maple Forest (‘Belmont Uplands’). David C. Morimoto, PhD Program Director, Natural Sciences and Mathematics Lesley College at Lesley University “To save every cog in the wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering” - Aldo Leopold.

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Ecological characteristics of the silver maple forest belmont uplands l.jpg

Ecological Characteristics of the Silver Maple Forest (‘Belmont Uplands’)

David C. Morimoto, PhD

Program Director, Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Lesley College at Lesley University

“To save every cog in the wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering” - Aldo Leopold


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Main Points:

  • The Silver Maple forest is significant ecologically at many spatial and temporal scales.

  • Its significance includes not only its ecological value (ecosystem services, habitat for species), but also its value to human health through passive recreation, as well as its educational value.


Silver maple forest local ecosystem value l.jpg
Silver Maple Forest Local Ecosystem Value:

  • It is a unique part of an ‘urban wild’ (Greater Alewife Ecosystem) consisting of a diverse habitat mosaic of forest, field, shrubland, and riverine habitat, over 130 acres in area.

  • By virtue of its shape, it reduces the edge/interior ratio and provides more interior, core habitat.

  • It buffers the adjacent Alewife Reservation and provides valuable habitat and hydrological functions, noise reduction, etc.

  • It is floristically unique in the region.


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Silver Maple Forest Local Ecosystem Value:

  • It supports large predators, which are indicators of general ecosystem health. Species include Coyote, Red Fox, weasels, Red-tailed Hawk, and Great-horned Owl.

  • Its core habitat could support forest interior birds like the Wood Thrush, which has been recorded in the SMF. Species like American Woodcock also rely on the forest.


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Ecological Complexity, Stability, and Resilience

  • Ecological communities and ecosystems are complex, with many populations interacting in many ways, and many complex cycles of energy and materials.

  • Most of the interactions are indirect (and thus difficult to perceive), but a few of the species play key roles.

  • Complexity provides stability and resilience, otherwise known as ‘balance’ in nature. Declines in complexity make ecosystems more vulnerable to decay and destruction.




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Landscape Scale Ecological Value 1: The Silver Maple Forest is situated within

  • a heavily developed urban-industrial-residential matrix, with a paucity of ‘wild’ habitat.

  • It is highly accessible to humans via converging human transportation corridors.

  • It is adjacent to Alewife Reservation and along a bird migration corridor.


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Landscape Scale Ecological Value 2:

  • The Silver Maple Forest is situated along the border between municipalities and watersheds, thus representing unique opportunities for cooperative conservation measures .

  • The Silver Maple Forest provides many ecosystem services, is valuable habitat, and represents a small but significant link in an otherwise developed landscape.

  • Many migrant birds use the forest during migration.


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Mystic Riverand Charles River watersheds

SMF



Little river alewife brook subwatershed and lower mystic river watershed drainage basin l.jpg
Little River - Alewife Brook subwatershed and Lower Mystic River Watershed - drainage basin

SMF

FP

AR

MAC


Belmont cambridge and arlington regional urban wild and drainage basin l.jpg
Belmont, Cambridge and Arlington regional Urban Wild and drainage basin


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The Development (commercialor residential) of the Silver Maple Forest would

  • compromise the ecological integrity of the landscape.

  • compromise the ecological integrity of the Greater Alewife Ecosystem.

  • negatively impact populations of species that currently depend on the forest, in addition to decreasing the ecosystem services it provides.


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Other Considerations

  • The educational value of the forest is extremely significant.

  • The value of the forest for passive recreation is also very significant, particularly given its landscape context and accessibility.

  • The whole ecology of an area includes these aspects of human living.


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