Nature Preservancy works to protect local environment


When it comes to helping save Riverdale’s natural environment, the Riverdale Nature Preservancy is on the job.

The preservancy is a small non-profit that helps educate area residents on the benefits of sustainable landscaping, promotes recycling, raises awareness of the impact of climate change, and protects the environment and character of Riverdale.

The preservancy wants to “protect natural areas in Riverdale,” says Sherida Paulsen, who chairs the group.

“We advocate for natural areas,” says Peter Kohlmann, the preservancy’s president.

Much of Riverdale is part of the city’s zoned designation known as a Special Natural Area District. SNAD covers much of the property in Fieldston, Palisades Avenue, areas north of West 246th Street, and west of the Henry Hudson Parkway.

“A lot of people don’t know that Riverdale is a SNAD,” Kohlmann says.

The goal of SNAD zoning is to protect the local ecosystem by preserving mature trees, wetlands, rock outcroppings and other natural features, such as slopes, which are all part of the unique ecological features of Riverdale.

Riverdale is one of only two SNADs in the city. The other is on Staten Island.

“RNP needs to educate people on SNAD, and help people understand how to maintain their property in a sustainable way,” Kohlmann says.

Mary Bandziukas, program manager for the preservancy, says “building expansion needs to respect the natural features on the land.”

The preservancy also provides homeowners with educational tools to care for their property without using pesticides and herbicides.

Instead of using pesticides to kill nasty insects — which pollute surface and ground water, and can harm children and pets — you can use natural products to attack the problem. For instance, you can spray garlic oil or cedar wood oil on grass and plants and tree leaves where mosquitoes hide, says Jessica Haller, who is on the preservancy’s board.

Herbicides are another important issue.

Glyphosates — the active ingredient in the popular herbicide Round-Up — “just kill everything,” Haller says. Dandelions are fine to leave on a lawn, she adds.

“When you see a yellow sign that says stay off the grass for 24 hours, we should know what is being sprayed,” Haller explains.

To help further its goal of educating the public on environmental issues, the preservancy is planning for a community green fair on Oct. 22 at the Episcopal Church of the Mediator, 260 W. 231st St. 

Groups including Bronx Climate Justice North, Save the Putnam Trail, the Bronx Council of Environmental Quality, Riverdale Temple, We Act for Environmental Justice, Manhattan College students and the Ethical Culture Society all will have tables at the fair.

“The purpose of the fair is to raise the impact of climate change and promote the transition of fossil fuels to 100 percent renewables,” says Meryl Nadel, another preservancy board member.

The fair will have information on green jobs as well as educational materials on how to protect the Earth, Nadel explains.

Paulsen sums up the preservancy’s mission, saying about Riverdale, “We believe in a fair and diverse community, but we have a true treasure in the city that needs to be protected.” 

For more information, visit RiverdaleNature.org

Michael Gold