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Old 03-28-2006, 08:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Issues with local collection

It seems that the legal/moral issues concerning the local collection of rocks, wood and plants is becoming increasingly discussed of late so I believe it is time to dedicate a topic specifically to that. Plus, I am sick of all the bickering and snide comments in various off-topic threads

First, lets keep this civil and remember that sarcasm, humor and implied tones are very hard to pick up on with written word. I am sure some confusion has happened recently simply because people were not sure if a post was intended to be serious, joking, etc.

As the hobby grows, the topic of collection (and many other unrelated topics aswell) is become more important. Already salt folks are passing rumors of licencing, etc for the purchase, ownership and sale of corals. Why?-because the enormity of the SW industry has had an impact on the environment as wild collection of natural reefs is very prevalent. FW enthusiastic can find similar issues with habitat destruction, breeding stock depletion, etc of natural ecosystems.

Remember, what may seem insignificant on an individual level can really add up when you think of thousands of people over many years. I would guess that just considering the major plant forums the are 10,000+ individuals in the hobby and probably twice that many never set foot on a forum. Imagine the impact 20,000 people can have on the environment over the next 10 years. So, in my opinion, this is an important issue.

Second, lets not forget the most important aside to this topic. Common sense Rules and laws are not there to keep down those with common sense or intelligence; rules/laws help protect everything(from people, to the environment to our grandchildren's environment) from those that lack the mental or moral fortitude to regulate themselves.

I can't condone someone for collecting a few rocks for their personal use, or grabbing a chunk of driftwood from the lake; however, there are certainly times, places and situations where that is acceptable. I do not think anyone should collect anything from public parks or protected lands, especially those were the park is "specially" defined (ie, Petrified Forest) There are a great many places to collect on private land, places set aside for public use but not protected (off-road locations, etc) and quite honestly, some of the nicest rock I have found was at my local landscape supply.... huge quantities of similar material for whopping prices of .25-.40 per pound and often as not, they said, "Heck, you only have 3 little chunks, don't worry about it"

One last bit before I get off my box, If everyone did it..... right. Sounds silly and totally uncool, I know, but it is true. And yes, there are much bigger issues to worry about but why should we ignore small issues as if they don't exhiste? What's a few aerosol can's right? Little lead in the paint never hurt anyone? Mercury, just trace amounts...dump it in the sea and it will go away. So what if I kill a few dozen passenger pigeons, look how many there are? Its not all about us.

So, there are my opinions. Please share yours.

Last edited by dennis; 03-30-2006 at 10:38 AM..
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Old 03-28-2006, 09:53 AM   #2 (permalink)
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OK, I'll be the first to take the bait.

I live in Florida. Practically everywhere you look in this state, you see water - from the ocean to lakes, rivers, canals, roadside ditches, etc. I have collected plants from ditches and rivers. I can travel from Gainesville to a small coastal town and for a good half of that trip (which is 45 miles) I have ditches on either side of the road. In those ditches, which are prevalent alongside many roads, I can find Ludwigia, Proserpinaca, Bacopa, Myriophyllum, Hydrilla, Micranthemum, Saggitaria, Vallisneria, Hygrophilla, just to name a few plants. Personally, I don't have a problem stopping by one of those ditches and occasionally grabbing a sprig or two of a plant. I don't believe I am doing any environmental damage by doing that. If someone with a backhoe and bulldozer come along and started raping the land alongside the road, I would be upset with that. I am not a commercial vendor who would be collecting with the intent of re-selling. (I checked that out with state environmental folks once, and one would need a license to do that commerecially.)

If I am in one of the beautiful, pristine, clear freshwater springs which are so common in northern and central Florida, I can also see a plethora of plants in there. If you have ever wanted to swim in an planted aquarium, go snorkeling or diving in one of our springs. The Ichetucknee, the Rainbow, the Silver River to name a few. If the spring is a state, local, or federal park, I wouldn't remove anything from it. The land there is protected for us and for future generations to enjoy. I have occasionally picked up a plant or two from a canoe on a river or lake not in a protected piece of property. Common sense needs to prevail. Of course, I don't condone ripping off every stalk of tapegrass or Ludwigia on the banks, but I guess I have never felt guilty taking a stem here and there. As far as collecting rocks and wood, I guess I feel the same. If on public lands, 'leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures' is my edict. If not on public lands I don't have a problem with folks taking a rock or a piece of wood that might strike one.

As Dennis said, it is much easier to pick up wood and rock from a vendor than it is to find one oneself. There is a place just up the road from here which sells cypress and cedar - beautiful weather beaten pieces. More wood than you would use if you were to set up tanks for everyone in your family once a year. They also sell some petrified Florida wood - heck I never knew Florida ever had petrified wood. But the fact is, I can go there and legally and for a pittance, get any hardscape I want for my tanks.

Dennis, I understand your point about 'what's one aerosol, or one small mercury spill, etc... The last couple of years mother nature has dropped hundreds of trees in Florida, obviously some of them in waterways. Maybe that's why I don't feel like grabbing a small branch of a waterlogged piece of wood is a problem. I also don't see that there are the numbers to worry environmentally speaking. Coral reefs are a much more endangered ecosystem than plants growing in roadside ditches, lakes and canals.

OK, now I shall put on my suit of armor and await the comments...
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Old 03-28-2006, 10:05 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for a well thoughtout response Bert. To be honest, I agree with the plants in situations like you mention. Common sense should prevail and the top potrions of a few stems of Ludwigia will grow back, possibly 2 or 3 fold. Same for the wood really. Again, common sense must prevail.

Time and a place for everything and there is a big difference between sustainable, replenishing resources and protected, endangered, or slow developing ones.
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Old 03-28-2006, 01:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Nice points, and a reasonable discussion. Might I just add that just because something is on sale by a vendor doesn't mean that they obtained it in an ethical manner. Governments have a way of issuing permits to any corporation with enough money to buy them.

OTOH, our entire economy relies on strip mines, wholesale logging, and diversion of natural waterways, just to name a few. Go visit a timber operation or a mine if you ever get a chance. The scale at which we take from the land is actually quite impressive. Picking up a few rocks on public, but unprotected land out west, where one can see for 100s of miles in every direction isn't much of a sin next to driving a Hummer or leaving your lights on during the day. As near as I can tell we have a pretty good supply of rock out there. Trying to sell the rocks is probably a little over the top though.

I'm far more concerned about introducing invasive species where they don't belong, inbreeding and crossbreeding fish, and collecting rare plants to the point of depleting the natural habitat. I sure wouldn't feel guilty about snipping a few leaves of a plant that grows along the road by the millions. All the plants we keep got snipped from somewhere.
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Old 03-29-2006, 07:06 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I agree with gualic about the species introduction. inproper disposal of clippings should be a far greater concern to the hobby than picking a branch out of a water way.

I simply do not believe that enough people are doing this to make it distructive. Take your 20,000 hobbiests, most of them will buy their materials instead of collect them. But assuming they all do wild collections, devide those hobbiests by the 3,718,711square miles of the United States. Even if every single hobbiest collected, that is one collection per every 185square miles. Honestly, I think everyone has much more pressing things to worry about than someone picking up a rock nearly 200 square miles apart from the next person picking up a rock.

I do not believe that limited collection does any harm to the environment. That log will just decay and rid itself anyways, those rocks will just break down into sediments. As long as you do not collect on protected land, where those itemsmay be protected, I think that there is ethically NOTHING wrong with collection. Scientists take collections from the wild all the time, the geology department at my school is filled with hundreds of beautiful specimins, many hand collected by the professors.
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Old 03-29-2006, 01:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I can certainly condone the collection of most rocks (come on, they are everywhere), driftwood (trees fall down all the time) and plants (they are usually invasive species if you can find them growing here in the States). You are right, dennis, certain thing shouldn't be taken i.e black sand from Hawaiin beaches, Petrified Forest rocks, etc. I feel the impact is so minimal from the planted aquarium hobby that it pales to marine collection. They throw cyanide off boats to catch fish in some areas. All we might do is collects a few stems or a couple rocks. No collateral damage as we sometimes see in marine environments. Plants in the wild grow extremely quickly, whereas corals take years. The only plants I cannot condone taking are the very rare wild ones (Ludwigia guinea, eriocaulons, toninas, certain crypts, etc.) and even then they aren't usually from highly poulated areas where collection is likely to take place (remote jungles, etc.).
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Old 03-30-2006, 10:34 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Many other things to worry about

At the present moment, the impact of wild collecting of items such as driftwood, rocks, and even plants by freshwater hobbyists is minimal. I understand that even though it may be a small impact, there is an impact nonetheless.

Do I condone the taking of such products of nature...not necessarily. However, I believe there are many things in the world that are of a greater concern than taking items for your planted tank.

For example, the Industrial shrimp aquaculture. Tilling the ocean, lakes, and rivers for consumable shrimp impacts those ecosystems far greater than the taking driftwood off a lake, or nabbing a few clippings of plants. For every pound of shrimp collected hundreds of acres, and hundreds of pounds of aquatic life is destroyed and wasted. There has been a move to shrimp farms, but those have significant socio-economical impact on local economies. Only way to prevent this carnage on both the environmental and social scale is to reduce the demand for shrimp. But it's not going to happen.

The demand for freshwater goods that are collected from the local environment will not cause a significant impact to our environment since currently there's not a large demand. Until the demand, and rampant abuse of collection of freshwater items rises, taking a rock, plant, etc. doesn't top my list to warrant me calling the Forest Ranger.

-John N.
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Old 03-30-2006, 12:46 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I collect all of my own driftwood and rocks. With the exception of two pieces of driftwood collected from a beach, all of it has come from my family's private property.

Removing wood and rocks from protected lands such as national parks where such actions are not legal is something I would never do.

It is certainly hypocritical to preach against the collection of driftwood while stocking your tank with wood that you purchased rather than collected. That wood still had to be collected by someone somewhere and you have not removed yourself from the loop just because you purchased the wood and were not the one who actually collected it. Can you really be certain that the driftwood and bogwood collection practices in Malaysia are environmentally friendly? I don't think you can, but my best guess would be that commercial driftwood harversters in a third world country are less likely to be concerned about the environment than I am when collecting in a natural stream on family property.

And what about rocks? Is the rock you buy in a store that is removed from the earth by heavy machinery and dynamite from an unnatural quarry and then transported by diesel truck to your landscaping materials retailer more environmentally friendly than the one I pick up off of the ground and carry home in my backpack? I don't think so.

But I really do not see the collection of driftwood as a terrible threat to the environment. Certainly collection of wild-caught living specimins for our aquariums is much more detrimental. I have several types of fish that I know are only available as wild-caught specimins. When/if these species become extinct, I will know that I was part of the problem.

If you want to buy it, fine with me. If you want to collect it like I do, I highly encourage that if you collect it with some sensitivity to the environment and local laws.

I think that it would be most helpful and a very positive effort for those posting here who are most against the unlawful collection of driftwood to do some research and post a list of laws and regulations concerning driftwood collection. If it is important enough of an issue to someone, then it is important enough to spend some time creating something useful that could actually help people who may not know that they are collecting driftwood unlawfully. If I knew that it was not legal to collect on a beach that I am planning on visiting, then I certainly would comply with the law.

I am visiting Hawaii later this year and had planned on looking for more good wood. Because of this thread and some recent comments I have read on this site, I have done some preliminary searches and have found no laws restricting driftwood collection on the beaches there. If someone can point me to such a law, I would appreciate it.

Edit: I did some additional searching for rock and driftwood collection regulations in the state of Hawaii and found these regulation for the Hawaii State Park System and it looks like collecting driftwood and rocks on the beaches on some protected public lands is perfectly legal:


(c) A person may gather or collect for personal use,
reasonable quantities of natural products of a renewable
nature, including, but not limited to
, seashells, fruits,
berries, flowers, seeds, pine cones, seaweeds, driftwood,
and marine objects of natural origin. . . .No person shall gather or
collect these products for the purpose of sale. The
quantities of these products may also be restricted by the
board or its authorized representative.

(f) A person may gather or collect small quantities
of pebbles or small rocks by hand for personal use, except
in prohibited areas which shall be posted. The quantities
of these items, however, may be restricted by the board or
its authorized representative. No person shall collect
these objects for the purpose of sale.

Another Edit:

Here in Alabama, it is against state park regualtions to remove any items from the parks.

Last edited by YuccaPatrol; 03-31-2006 at 05:33 AM..
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Old 04-03-2006, 03:29 PM   #9 (permalink)
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hi all,
anything that's endangered and not renewable with exceptions are not to be collected...a little here and there with common sense perhaps...

two grey areas regarding topic happening in my country...

1.a lot of the driftwood from malaysia comes from dams. which are protected areas...the dead trees from damming done decades ago.
container loads are exported
erm how do you rate that? it's not renewable but it's not really important to keep in the an exception perhaps.

2.the limestone hills along the north south highway in the peninsular malaysia doesn't look the same anymore... a lot of it is being quarried to horizon level.
the limestone, granite etc are used for construction . whatever that's nice and small; fossilized wood etc are sold as decoration.
i don't like what's happening here. however, third world country...we need to house the people properly no? another exception?

My point of view on wild fauna/flora collection...
i doubt there's enough to satisfy our thirst...i believe it should be done in a sustainable manner. the beautiful ones should be quickly studied and bred to satisfy hobbyists' demand. not continue to be harvested from the wild till endangered.
Parks are parks and only pictures taken and tracks left behind...not my words but something i will never forget.

Some people are stuck up enough to say they don't like hybrids or line breds calling them whims of man... wow...luckily people like this are minority. if you are a scientist...fine. however if all hobbyists think like this we will soon make everything endangered or gone...

[i think there's more channa in america than in malaysia now, water is better there...sic]

lastly, competition breeds desire...theres more and more competitions for nicest best of end in sight.
it is unfortunate that this gives rise to pillage of mother nature.

what do you think happens to the stuff we have collected/, wood and stuff...will our children appreciate it or will it end up in bin?

i'm certainly not out of the loop, but i'm only enjoying mother nature's crumbs...

Last edited by standoyo; 04-03-2006 at 03:55 PM..
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Old 06-23-2006, 05:36 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by standoyo
anything that's endangered and not renewable with exceptions are not to be collected
It seems to me that endangered and non-renewable plants should be collected, studied, grown and re-introduced. Many species of fish and some plants would be totally extinct but for the efforts of hobbyists in preserving them.

Standing back and just letting an endangered plant fade into history is irresponsible.
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