Sustainable Stewardship: Long-Term Management for Multi-Acre Properties We are extremely proud to announce a new service offering for 2022, the Sustainable Stewardship Program. The offering is a holistic management program for clients with large properties (five acres or more) across Westchester, Putnam, Fairfield, and Morris counties. Beyond estate-level grounds maintenance, the program seeks to evaluate the unique environments within each property from an ecological perspective, aiming to improve biodiversity, ecosystem services, natural resource management, and the overall health and safety of the landscape over multi-year phases. We felt driven to create this program because properties of scale can have a significant impact on ecosystem services that directly affect human health. These landscape environments can become models for climate resilience, stormwater management, clean air, and incubating essential biology that contributes to our own healthy microbiome. Human health is inextricably intertwined with our local environment. Estate Environmental Observation & Analysis Each Sustainable Stewardship Property has unique site conditions, stages of degradation or restoration, and criteria for improvement based on the client’s needs and desires for their landscape. The program starts with an on-site consultation where we can discuss program goals, conduct an initial observation and analysis of the existing conditions. For example, one client in Putnam Valley has sixty-acres of mixed hardwood forest, nestled between steep hills, old logging roads and a stream. A major component of the project is to re-establish accessible hiking trails so that the family can enjoy the expansive nature of their backyard. At the same time, we will be evaluating the health of the forest ecosystem by inventorying the flora and fauna including presence of keystone and indicator species and their trophic relationships. For example, are healthy fox populations helping to reduce the rodent population, thereby reducing tick populations and the presence of Lyme disease – if not, what can be done to encourage fox populations? What is threatening them in the first place? GJL will also be examining dominant plant species, forest succession, native understory diversity, and invasive species presence. We plan to survey erosion rates and nutrient loading as it pertains to the stream and wetland areas. Relevant historical land use – was the land farmed, logged, managed or abandoned – will likewise inform our solutions. Sustainable Stewardship Goals & Deliverables The goal after observation and analysis is to explore potential design solutions or cultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) to optimize ecosystem and human health. Privately owned woodlands, fields, and wetlands have immense potential for habitat restoration and climate change resilience if properly managed. Our management standards of the past – extracting resources and then abandoning the land to invasive species rule — will not serve us well in the future. It is time to change the ethic towards responsible, forward-thinking land stewardship. Participants in the Sustainable Stewardship Program will receive site-analysis and management plans for the forests, meadows, fields, wetlands, and waterways on their property. Where necessary, we partner with industry experts such as wetland scientists, soil scientists, foresters, and conservation biologists for more extensive testing and analysis. Depending upon the site analysis, management plans might include invasive vegetation removal, pruning, biological soil amendments, erosion control, and restoration planting plans. We understand how complex ecosystems are, so our Sustainable Stewardship Programs are designed to be implemented over several years. Are you a candidate for the Sustainable Stewardship Program? Contact Us to schedule a consultation.