Guest Post by Ross Murray
[Editor's note: I saw this post in the Kentucky Native Plant Society Facebook group, and I wanted to share it here with you because this author makes some great points. Thanks to Ross Murray for allowing me to reprint it here! ~ Carole Sevilla Brown]
Ecosystems all over the country and all over the world are being degraded and destroyed by our bulldozers and other directly destructive behavior. This is the stuff that we see on TV and get asked to give to this cause or that cause so that small islands of native plants, insects, and animals can be protected and preserved in those little islands called nature preserves and wildlife sanctuaries.
But this doesn’t seem to be working and we wonder why. Plants and animals move and ebb. Life has to move and if we confine them to these small places they are vulnerable to disease and disaster.
A bigger problem than all of this direct destruction are the nonnative plants, insects and animals that are being transported by human beings all across the globe. Each and every island that we are trying to protect is failing. They are all being invaded by nonnative invasives and we don’t seem to be getting it. Intact ecosystems seem to do okay in battling the invaders, but all it takes is an “in” for them….a tornado….a hiker carrying in seeds on her shoes……a tree dying and a bird dropping a seed.
Every time you plant something that has a chance of spreading is liking setting a bomb off in the ecosystem. The more easily it is spread, the larger the explosion and the more damage it does. But in the end, if a nonnative plant will spread at all or even if there is a chance it will spread, it should not be planted.
To do so, means that you are not only standing by and letting the world slowly lose its regional uniqueness, you are participating in its death. One plant that produces 100 viable seeds will exponentially spread into the surrounding environment.
If we instead chose to make a stand against the darkness and never plant anything that will spread and displace our natives and only plant natives, then suddenly those islands of native plants, animals and insects are no longer islands but part of a greater ecosystem that suddenly stretches far and wide across our country and world.
In order for us to keep “alive” the wonderful diversity that we still have, we have to stop thinking about what we want and ourselves exclusively. We have to develop a new paradigm. We have to figure out how to have something closer to a 0 impact. If we don’t, then we might as well give up and stop trying to protect our native plants and animals. Otherwise we will continue to provide enemy troops with a safe haven while they assault all that we hold dear. We are providing comfort to our own enemies. We are carrying for and pampering the progenitors of our enemies as our beloved children. Giving them special fertilizer, watering them and keeping the weeds down so they can grow and produce seed.
This is the reason that I’m about to take out all of the nonnatives out of my office yard and replace them with all natives. If I do plant a nonnative, it will be one that I am sure isn’t going to spread and cause havoc with the ecosystem around me.
I know some of you will think that I am being melodramatic. But ask yourselves if what I am saying has the ring of truth to it. I believe it does. I welcome you to try to find holes in it. It will help me perfect my argument.
Ross Murray owns a farm in Kentucky, and will be converting his office landscape to native plants this spring. He’s a member of the Kentucky Native Plant Society.
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