Bioremediation, well, kind of…


I am sure some of you have heard of kudzu…at least those of you interested in invasive species. This vine is all over the American South and grows at an unbelievably rapid 1 foot/day. That means you could probably sit back, have a cold one, and watch this stuff grow, for real. The problem is that this vine, an invasive from Asia that arrived in Philadelphia in the 1800s and was then used by federal programs to combat erosion or kept and planted as an ornamental plant (it has nice purple flowers), out-competes our local flora and literally takes over the land and anything, including houses, on it. Farmers and government officials and anyone else that cares about plants, have been trying to figure out effective ways to combat this stuff…and of course, all of the familiar old tactics, like chemicals or equipment, have been considered and used.

But one city in Tennessee, Chattanooga (yes, it is the choo-choo), has come up with an innovative method to combat the plant. They are employing goats. Yes goats. According to an article in the NY Times, many people find this amusing. Goats eat everything, as most of us well know, and are pretty awesome at consuming this vine before it has a chance to consume the landscape. They can get onto steep slopes where equipment cannot be used and are relatively low-maintenance. The program has, thus far, been successful, and is environmentally friendly.

Dr. Jennifer Veilleux is a geographer, writer, and artist. For more than a decade, she has worked on scientific research and security issues facing water resources shared across political boundaries. Research and curiosity has taken her to more than 50 countries on 5 continents, often to remote locations and marginalized communities. Veilleux takes portraits of people she encounters in her field work and recently released a collection, Portraits from Rivers of Change, that can be viewed here: www.jenniferveilleux.com. These portraits highlight two separate communities, one on the Mekong River the other on the Blue Nile River, facing relocation due to dam development. Dr. Veilleux works for Florida International University as a post doctoral associate for the Institute of Water and Environment and manages SELVA, the Serengeti-Lake Victoria Sustainable Water Initiative, a research project on water security of the Mara River in the Upper Nile basin of Tanzania. She maintains a blog, The Way of Water, dedicated to news and commentary about development on the Nile and Mekong, general water resources issues, and special topics related to women in science. She lives in Miami with her cat Mr. FC Sweet Tea.