Chew Crew emerged through a sustainability grant awarded by UGA’s Office of Sustainability in 2012 to senior Landscape Architecture undergraduate, Zach Richardson. With the help of his faculty adviser, Dr. Eric MacDonald, an associate professor in the College of Environment and Design, Richardson developed a prescribed grazing project that would utilize goats to eradicate invasive plant species from the daylight portion of Tanyard Creek, an urban stream that flows through the heart of UGA’s campus. Not only does this project address the environmental impact of invasive plant species and invasive plant species management, Chew Crew has evolved to incorporate community engagement and public outreach through raising awareness about the value of urban streams and engaging the community in ecological restoration efforts.
So, what exactly is prescribed grazing? Also known as “targeted grazing,” prescribed grazing is defined as “the application of a specific kind of livestock at a determined season, duration, and intensity to accomplish define vegetation or landscape goals.”1 Although humans throughout the world have used livestock to manage vegetation in a pasture and woodland setting for centuries, the technique has only recently emerged as a strategy to control non-native, invasive species in urban areas.
Non-native, invasive plant species are a serious issue because they often out-compete native species, leading to a decline in local plant and wildlife diversity, and potentially compromising the health and resilience of local ecosystems. When native plants disappear, the native insects and many of the other organisms that depend upon them for food also vanish. The result may be an overall decline in biodiversity, as well as the possibility of other ecological changes, such as soil loss.
A non-native species is defined as a species living outside its native distributional range, which has introduced either deliberately or accidentally by human activity. Not all introduced species become invasive, however. An invasive species is one that has the tendency to spread on its own, and which has the potential to damage to damage the environment, human economy, or human health. Some common invasive plant species on UGA campus include kudzu, Chinese privet, Japanese honeysuckle, Chinese wisteria wintercreeper, and English ivy.
Hear from our founder, Zach Richardson, about the goats’ arrival on site, their role in the working environment at Tanyard Creek, and his vision for Chew Crew moving forward.