The Sustainability Campaign


By: Ron Dodson

     We believe that in order to achieve the vision associated with a more sustainable society, some things must grow – jobs, productivity, efficiency, wages, capital and savings, profits, information, knowledge and education – and others – pollution, waste and poverty – must not. The Sustainability Campaign is aimed at forging partnerships with businesses, universities, governments and not-for-profits, encouraging the adoption of the ISC Principles of Sustainability.

We are promoting: Conservation - Education - Nature-based Tourism

Conservation Landscape Management

ISC-Audubon advocates Conservation Landscape Management as an important way for people to connect with nature and natural resources CLA Logoright outside of where we all live, work and play.

Many people ask what we mean exactly by Conservation Landscape Management. How about the following 10 key points:

1. Select proper turf, manage it correctly and use it sparingly

2. Fertilize appropriately

3. Water and irrigate responsibly

4. Provide adequate and appropriate filtered drainage

5. Select and use water efficient and region friendly plants

6. Manage trees and shrubs responsibly

7. Manage water features responsibly

8. Control pests responsibly

9. Provide amenities for humans & habitat for wildlife

10. Use technology and innovation 

Conservation Landscape Management Encourages:

Building Healthy Soils

Healthy soils are essential in any landscape type. Transforming poor soils into a fertile growth medium that supports healthy plant growth while reducing water use by selecting and using healthy disease-and pest-resistant plants will improve the landscape appearance and increase property value.

Using Fertilizer Efficiently

Applying precise amounts of fertilizer in a timely manner will reduce growth, diminish the potential for pollution, and promote healthy disease- and pest-resistant plants. Fertilize according to the needs of the species planted. Use efficient technologies such as fertigation systems to create and create a prescription fertilization and irrigation program. Use slow-release or organic-based formulas based on nutrient needs as verified by soil testing. This will reduce growth spurts that increase the need for pruning and mowing.

Irrigating Efficiently

Overwatering aids rapid plant growth and water loss. Water runoff adds to groundwater pollution. Use water-efficient irrigation systems, such as drip or low-output sprinkler heads that deliver a precise volumes of water to plant root zones. Develop watering schedules based on historical or actual weather data. Use soil probes to monitor soil moisture before watering.

Reusing Organic Materials On-Site

Landscapers can use a chipper at the job site to mulch pruning and clipping from woody shrubs and trees and apply mulch on the landscape. Trimmings and clippings from lawns, trees, and shrubs from large landscape sites can become feedstock for on-site composting operations. This will save on purchasing outside soil amendments.

Practicing Pollution Prevention

Landscape managers are encouraged to use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to reduce use of chemical pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals can eventually make their way off-site and contribute to nonpoint source pollution (pollution not traceable to a single location). Increased use of non-motorized equipment will also reduce emissions and noise pollution.

Retrofitting Inefficient Landscapes

As established landscape sites age or grow beyond their intended use, they must be redesigned to integrate resource efficiency, site function, and aesthetics. Reduce turf areas and establish new landscape plantings with more low-maintenance and drought-tolerant plants. Irrigation systems must undergo retrofits and depleted soils enriched to save water and promote healthy plant growth.

Thinking Recycle/Buying Recycled

Recycling materials from the construction, installation, or upkeep of landscape sites will reduce waste. Wood waste coverts to mulch, and plastic pots can be recycled into products for landscape use. Buying recycled-content landscaping products, such as plastic edging or lumber, conserves natural resources and strengthens markets for these recyclable materials.  

Environmental Literacy

In the course of a lifetime, an individual will accumulate environmental knowledge from a combination of school, the media, personal reading, family members and friends, outdoor activities, entertainment outlets, and a wide range of other professional and personal experiences. For a few motivated individuals, this can eventually add up to an accomplished environmental literacy. But for most Americans, it falls far short. Most people accumulate a diverse and unconnected smattering of factoids, a few (sometimes incorrect) principles, numerous opinions, and very little real evirornmental literacyunderstanding. Research shows that most Americans believe they know more about the environment than they actually do.

That is why 45 million Americans think the ocean is a source of fresh water; 120 million think spray cans still have CFCs in them even though CFCs were banned in 1978; another 120 million people think disposable diapers are the leading problem with landfills when they actually represent about 1% of the problem; and 130 million believe that hydropower is America's top energy source, when it accounts for just 10% of the total. It is also why very few people understand the leading causes of air and water pollution or how they should be addressed. Our years of data from Roper surveys show a persistent pattern of environmental ignorance even among the most educated and influential members of society.

(From the Forward of Environmental Literacy in America, 2006)

Gardens that grow more than food

What does $40 get you nowadays? A lunch for two? A manicure? Half a tank of gas? Nails be damned; it got me a community garden plot for one year where I grew 10 times worth that amount of organic vegetables.

Once upon a time, community gardens were the domain of the elderly or immigrants, people who grew up growing their own produce and later Gardenhappy for the chance to be able to do it in an urban setting. Today, community gardeners are as varied as the plants seeded in the gardens. No longer just onions, cabbage and peas, welcome to the world of mesclun, heirloom tomatoes and eggplants being tended by young families with babes in strollers, joining generation X foodies, keen to grow tasty cooking ingredients. And I still remember the day when a middle-aged man pulled up in his small British convertible, got out, proceeded to water his salad greens and sweet peas — decked out in kilt and sporran.

Read the rest of the article by Shannon Moneo HERE

Sustainable Soil

Dr. Rattan Lal, with the School of Environment and Natural Resources of The Ohio State University, who is a globally recognized expert in soil Sustainable Soilscience, has stated that the key step toward sustainability rests with sustainable soil management. Dr. Lal has stated: “Sustainable soil management is the engine for economic, environmental and social sustainability.”

While there appears to be a growing interest in the concepts and philosophy of sustainability, there seems to be a lack of clear direction concerning what to do about it.  It seems that the landscape is the best place to begin walking down the path of sustainability and that means managing landscapes from the planning, design and management point of view. Note, that I didn’t say turfgrass management, or golf course management…but landscape management. And, the foundation for a sustainable landscape is the soil on which a landscape is grown and managed.  The soil should be the main, first focus within any landscape. As a wildlife biologist I always focused on wildlife and biological diversity.  It took my quite a while to fully appreciate that soil…healthy soil…is the most diverse habitat on Earth.  In many regard our present management activities are killing the most important and most diverse habitat on the Planet.

The International Sustainability Council (ISC) defines a sustainable landscape in the following way: The foundation for a sustainable landscape is sustainable soil. A sustainable landscape is an economically viable landscape that provides engaging and enjoyable environments for all people and other living organisms that utilize the landscape. A sustainable landscape is planned, designed, constructed and managed in ways that enhances the property value and the local community and reduces or eliminates impacts to the soil and other natural resources. It is managed in ways that provides balance between optimum human use and enjoyment, good stewardship of the environment, while providing economically viable environmental services. Management strategies are based upon scientifically sound, site specific best practices that improves the quality of all life on the landscape, as well as regionally and beyond. Through information and education a sustainable landscape serves as a champion and advocate of sustainability.

The ISC has adopted, with Dr. Lal’s blessing, the following 10 Principles for Sustainable Soils that he authored and they would encourage every golf course adopt these as guiding principles for the management of a sustainable golf landscape:

Principle 1

Soil degradation is a biophysical process, but driven by social, economic and political forces. Minimizing degradation and enhancing restoration depends on addressing the human dimensions that drive land misuse.

Principle 2

The landscape stewardship concept is important only when the basic needs of people and businesses are adequately met.

Principle 3

When managing a landscape you cannot take more out of the soil than what you put in it without degrading its quality.

Principle 4

Poor quality soils cultivated with improper inputs produce marginal plant responses and are not sustainable.

Principle 5

Plants cannot differentiate between organic and inorganic inputs therefore it is a matter of logistics in making nutrients available in sufficient quantity, in the appropriate form, and at the right time for acceptable plant growth and optimum quality.

Principle 6

The poor management of soil organic matter (90% of carbon in soils is stored as organic matter) results in the loss of carbon just as if it were burned on the surface and wasted.

Principle 7

Soils can be a source of carbon extraction or a sink for carbon storage, depending on how the soil is managed. If used as a sink, the soil has the capacity to store three gigatons of carbon a year, translating into a reduction of 50 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over the next five decades.

Principle 8

Even the most elite plant varieties developed through biotechnology and genetic engineering cannot extract water and nutrients from the soil where they do not exist. Improvements in quality can only be realized if landscape plants are grown on well-managed soils.

Principle 9

Improved soil management is the engine of economic development in all communities because it enhances the lifestyles of those who live, work, or play in each community.  Try to imagine a community with no plants whatsoever.

Principle 10

Traditional landscape management knowledge and modern innovations go hand-in-hand. One cannot solve current landscape issues without the other. We can develop upon traditional knowledge, but those who ignore modern soil management innovations must be prepared to endure difficult struggles in the quest for sustainable landscapes.

Operation Pollinator

Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly bee pollen macrodisappear. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, and have been known by various names (disappearing disease, spring dwindle, May disease, autumn collapse, and fall dwindle disease), the syndrome was renamed colony collapse disorder in late 2006 in conjunction with a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of Western honeybee colonies in North America. European beekeepers observed similar phenomena in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, and initial reports have also come in from Switzerland and Germany, albeit to a lesser degree while the Northern Ireland Assembly received reports of a decline greater than 50%.

Colony collapse is significant economically because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by European honey bees. According to the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the worth of global crops with honeybee’s pollination was estimated to be close to $200 billion in 2005. Shortages of bees in the US have increased the cost to farmers renting them for pollination services by up to 20%.

The mechanisms of CCD and the reasons for its increasing prevalence remain unclear, but many possible causes have been proposed: pesticides (in particular, those of the neonicotinoid class); infections with Varroa and Acarapis mites; malnutrition; various pathogens; genetic factors; immunodeficiencies; loss of habitat; changing beekeeping practices; electromagnetic radiation from electronic communication devices; or a combination of factors.

One of every three bites of food we eat is dependent on pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and other species that play an enormous role in plant reproduction. Pollinators provide approximately $20 billion worth of pollination for American crops each year.

It’s obvious that pollinators are valuable. But did you know that many pollinators are in trouble? Many species are seeing declines in population as a result of habitat loss, disease, parasites and over-use of pesticides.

There are several public awareness project underway in the United States relative to concern about the plight of pollinators. One such effort is called Operation Pollinator, which originated in Europe, but has been launched in the United States under the direction of Daniel Potter, Ph.D. and graduate students of the University of Kentucky.  This project is both a research effort concerning proper plant selection that will benefit pollinators and an education and action project that is aimed at encourage golf courses, among other land use types to practice pollinator conservation on their properties.

The United States Golf Association, Turfgrass and Environmental Research Program has funding research in connection with pollinators, and are supporters of Operation Pollinator efforts. The plight of pollinators on a world-wide basis and the connection with their loss and resulting impacts on human food supplies, makes the conservation of pollinators a critically important sustainability issue.



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Sponsors are a critically important part to the success of ISC-Audubon. As a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating sustainability, we offer all of our programs to our members free of charge, and are publicly available for download on our website.

ISC-Audubon is proud to extend the opportunity to select businesses and organizations to become sponsors of our sustainability education and advocacy programs. As a sponsor, your business or organization can realize significant value.

Click here to learn more about this opportunity. 


A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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