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Beyond the asphalt: The role of prairies in conserving our ecosystem

Peter Raven (left), the President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Rudi Roeslein (right), CEO of Roeslein Associates
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

People in urban areas may not think about the importance of prairies. But beyond the asphalt, concrete and glass of the city, is a country rich in prairie land.

But, what is the importance of prairies and how do they affect our everyday lives?

On Thursday's “St. Louis on the Air” Peter Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Rudi Roeslein, CEO of Roeslein Associates, joined host Don Marsh to discuss the role of prairies conserving of natural ecosystems and their importance for production of next-generation biofuels.

According to Roeslein, prairies are important because they provide a diverse abundance of different plants that serve wildlife and other ecological services. However, in recent times, our prairies have been disappearing due to various factors, such as expanding corn farms. Because of this disappearance, natural phenomenon such as flooding in certain regions can have greater impacts because prairies often serve as areas where excess water from flooding is absorbed.

Among other things, prairies provide insects with food from various plants.

“I think it’s essential that we protect the remaining prairies to give us a vision of what we can do moving forward to restore millions of acres that could be useful in many ways,” said Roeslein. “We’re learning from studying what our Native American ancestors did.”

Listen to the audio to hear more information about the impact of prairies on our environment.

Related Event

Danforth Plant Science Center's Conversations Series Presents "Let’s Talk About…Prairies, Conservation, and Energy"

  • When: Thursday, June 11, 6 p.m. (Reception at 5:15 p.m.)
  • Where: Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, 975 North Warson Road, St. Louis, MO 63132
  • More information

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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