What’s Growing On: Group on University of Florida campus working to restore natural vegetation

Published: May. 27, 2021 at 6:03 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -With new construction projects popping up around campus, many areas become dumping grounds for materials or waste.

One group on campus is trying to change that with native plants.

The Natural Area Teaching Laboratory works with students and volunteers to restore areas on campus that are lacking vegetation.

Gage LaPierre is a PhD student at the University of Florida and helps lead this group in their goal of reintroducing native plants to open spaces around campus.

“The main objective would be to restore the species diversity that was there, the ecosystem function, so allowing the positive feedback with fire, allowing the burns to be lower in intensity. The secondary, of course, is aesthetics,” LaPierre said.

Related Story: NCFL couple donates land to conservation efforts

LaPierre said that fires are crucial for these native plants to be planted and grown. He said these varietals thrive on the nutrients in the soil following a prescribed burn. The group is currently waiting on the next burn to be approved to plant the next batch.

When it comes to choosing which kind of plants, LaPierre said there’s plenty of reasons to pick a native plant versus non native.

“Native plants can be way easier to maintain in the long run, they don’t require nearly as much water. I think it really just kind of comes down to a lot of the insects, a lot of the wildlife are more adjusted to the native plants that are more commonly found here,” LaPierre said.

The group has recently received a $3,000 grant to plant a native wildflower meadow at the Natural Area Teaching Laboratory next year.

Those interested in joining this group’s efforts can click HERE for more information.

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