Who We Are
Mission Hill Green is a community dedicated to restoration and maintenance of, and advocacy for, natural areas in Mission Hill. These areas include Parker Hilltop, McLaughlin Woodlands and Orchards, Iroquois Woods, and Back of the Hill Urban Wild.
Mission Hill Green works closely with the Boston Park Departments Urban Wilds Initiative. The Initiative seeks to preserve, enhance and restore the natural ecological functions of the urban wild sites while at the same time facilitating public access, understanding and appreciation. Urban wilds are natural landscapes as opposed to man-made parks. either they are what nature has shaped through deposition, erosion, glaciation, and other processes, or they are what nature has fashioned in taking back landscapes people had made for farming, for their estates, or in quarrying stone to raise the built city (1).
This website is meant to be a means of inviting the public to participate in regularly scheduled sessions to do restoration work, learn about the ecology of the site, and enjoy a natural setting and your neighbors.
The restoration strategies of MHG are based on principles described in The Once and Future Forest: by Leslie Jones Sauer:The object is to recreate and sustain historic natural process to the extent feasible and to shift conditions sufficiently to favor restoration over degradation, gradually tipping the balance in favor of sustaining natural systems. The most important conditions for a restoration project are that it be community-based and that it be science-based. To be community based, it must represent a consensus, which in turn requires that it be participatory. To be science-based, it must be documented and monitored (2).
Restoration work entails:
The principle of minimal intervention. That is taking only those actions that are necessary to counteract disturbance and also taking no actions that may inhibit the natural processes of restoration.
Community involvement in the restoration process. Urban wild sites are part of the unique identity of the neighborhood.
Using the site for its educational value as a place to observe natural processes such as the growth and reproduction of native flowers, shrubs and trees. Urban wilds are outdoor classrooms in which children and adults can observe insects, birds and other wildlife and probe the interconnectedness of life.
Caring for and monitoring the site on a regular basis.
Recognizing the immediate and long-term benefits of the site being restored. Trees are important for cooling the urban heat island effect through the shade they provide. They also manufacture oxygen and purify our air. Undeveloped land is also important for its effect in decreasing water runoff and replenishing the groundwater table (3).
Some of the work to be done:
Stabilize and enhance degraded and eroding soil.
Remove or control invasive trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Whenever possible cut material is left on site for use as erosion control, to protect plantings and to serve as a matrix upon which leaf litter and other organic matter can collect and soil be enhanced.
Plant native trees, shrubs and perennials which support native soil microfauna, insects, birds and animals.
Make the site accessible, yet minimize the impact of people. For example, trails are constructed which allow people to explore the site. At the same time these trails prevent trampling of plants and soil compaction around them.
1.1990 Boston Urban Wilds Report. Boston Natural Areas Fund (Now Boston Natural Areas Network).
2. The Once and Future Forest: A guide to forest restoration strategies, Jones Sauer, Leslie. Island Press, Washington D.C. 1998.
Written by Dennis Pultinas, August 2010