Video about restoring the hole-in-the-donut to native wetland prairie (9 min. with closed-captions).
- Credit / Author:
- NPS video by Jennifer Brown
- Date created:
Biologist: It is called Brazilian Pepper, often. It is called Florida Holly, sometimes.
It is commonly understood that this plant was brought in on the nursery trade to landscape with.
And, one of the reasons it is called Florida holly is because it would make these wonderful red berries.
And, during November, December, and January, they are particularly abundant.
It is probably one of the most common non-native species in South Florida.
This habitat behind me that you see right now is artificial.
It is not supposed to be here.
And, the goal of the project is to remove this artificial habitat and replace it with the habitat that Florida wildlife is adapted to and is accustomed to using.
The most critical part of this restoration to make it successful is to remove as much as technically feasible, all of the soil down to the bedrock that we can.
What we are doing is the edges in some places, in particular where they interface with the natural area is not distinct and clear in all cases.
So, we have to walk it and discuss it.
The boundary comes through here.
I don’t know the common name. I just know that this is one of our imperiled species within the park: Sideroxylon.
Contractor: You say it is threatened?
Yeah, this is a special plant.
Watch, it will grab me.
And, not only does the topography go down, but particularly like over in the pinelands, it goes up.
So, in the Hole-in-the-Donut, part of the restoration thing that we try to do is to recapture that as well.
When I look at this habitat, and I reflect on what was there before and the diversity of native plants and flora that were there before.
And, I look at what we have here, it is regrettable that we have lost the habitat that we’ve lost.
One of the first phases of the work that we have to do is to bring this material down.
And, so some of the first equipment to come in are the chippers.
Other equipment that we use are off-road dump trucks because then once the material is down, they start to scrape it up and they need dump trucks to carry this off to the disposal site.
The soil left by the farming is why we have the Brazilian pepper.
So, the goal of the restoration work, the contractors, is to get rid of as much of that soil as possible.
The species of real concern on this backline are the pines. That holly can go.
Once they have cleared off the vast majority of the bulk soil and vegetation, they follow it up with graters and with sweepers and were able to sweep up the loose rubble.
And, they have done just a very good job.
I could not ask for a better final scrape.
This is the most exciting part of what I do.
And, once it is all over, that is the most rewarding part because then I can point to a real tangible accomplishment.
Well, I see a beautiful white, flat surface…that is what I see.
I see a lot of work: A lot of people spent a lot of time bringing down the Brazilian pepper.
We have the intact Brazilian pepper stands over here in front of me.
And then, of course, behind me, we have all the area where the Brazilian pepper has been removed.
It has taken approximately two months of effort, lots of equipment, lots of man hours to get that accomplished. But, it is done.
Now that we have done this…
Now that we have exerted this level of effort to remove the soils generated by farming, we can sit back and watch the native species colonize the site on their own.
Within a month, you will definitely be able to see a number of seedlings.
And, after the next six months by the end of the rainy season, this area will have a wide range of species in the early stages of succession but certainly well distributed across the landscape.
The target is to try to achieve a plant community here that resembles the plant communities that were here before.
And, if you go and look at them, the two dominant plant species on those sites are Muhly grass and Sawgrass.
If you go through or walk through an area that has been restored, the diversity of wetland plant species, invertebrates, the animals that utilize the site is extraordinary.
I just think that for a restoration project, it is remarkably successful.
The fact that you can so heavily manipulate an area either through the farming practices that altered the landscape tremendously…
Then, the restoration activities themselves can afterward result in a plant community with a suite of species that successfully colonizes of its own accord…
And, so closely mimics if not in actual species and in dominance, then in function and process, the wetland that was here before.