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With the dawn of a new mellenium only a few years away, it is not surprising that James B. Beard and Robert L. Green emphasize the benefits of turfgrasses in human history. Evidencing the resilience of Poaceae, the oldest permanent vegetation to reappear after environmental disasters (vol-cano, drought, flood, fire, war), Beard and Green specifically foster the idea that grasses-of all the plants cultured by humans during the past 10 centuries-may be the most important means of long-term environmental protection, stability, or recovery and of human quality of life.

From the number of the functional benefits of turfgrasses that the sicentific team innumerates, it would appear that turfgrass benefits to the environment are increasing-ly difficult to ignore. Even so, Beard and Green express concern that single-issue ("no turf") formulas and "speculative psuedo-scientific" solutions advanced by early xeriscape and other conservation proponents still continue to have broad appeal, despite scientific findings to the contrary.

The implication is that the use of turfgrass on traditional aesthetic and social or more recently-established psychological grounds has consequently become more difficult to defend. But Green told LASN that he feels it is a very constructive situation: "What isn't said in the paper is that I think it can be a win-win situation for the environment and for turf," said Green. "The best approach in all of this is [for both factions] to sit down and come up with objectives that are priorities. Turf and landscape provide some very useful environmental benefits . . . . the scientific body of information is a good place to start. Communication is key."

For readers whose specific questions about turfgrass use are not fully answered and scientifically supported in Beard and Green's "The Role of Turfgrasses in Environmental Protection and Their Benefits to Humans" (Journal of Environmental Quality , Vol. 23, No. 3, May-June 1994), one of the 87 articles referenced in the 2-page bibliography are sure to provide insight into appropriate grasses for environmental protection.

SOCIAL AND FUNCTIONAL BENEFITS OF TURFGRASSES

• Soil erosion control and dust stabilization as means to protect nonrenewable soil resources.

• The flood control benefits and improved recharge and protection of groundwater supplies.

• Enhanced entrapment and biodegradation of synthetic organic compounds.

• Soil improvements that include CO2 improvements.

• Accelerated restoration of disturbed soils.

• Moderation of urban temperatures through heat dissipation.

• Reduction of noise, glare, and visual pollution.

• Reduction of noxious pests and pollens (allergens) and associated diseases.

• Increased roadside vehicle safety and extended airplane engine life .

• Improved security through use of high-visibility open space zones.

• Enhanced physical health and reduced physical-impact injury rates associated with relatively low-cost recreation surfaces.

• Reduction of impacts to diverse wildlife population by integrating grasses in landscapes that integrate or interface with wilderness habitat.

• Enhanced beauty.

• Complimentary relationship of turf to the ecosystem.

• Therapeutic benefit to mental health, social harmony, and improved work productivity, especially in urban areas.

Formerly with the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Texas A&M University, James B. Beard is now with Sports Turf Institute, College Station, Texas. Robert L. Green, is with the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California Riverside..


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June 26, 2019, 11:59 am PDT

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