Ecosystem Gardening is a way of healing the wounds to wildlife caused by human activity in the environment. Instead of destroying habitat we are creating welcome habitat for wildlife in our gardens.
Dave Foreman in Rewilding North America: A Vision for Conservation in the 21st Century eloquently describes six “wounds” that the human population is inflicting on ecosystems which are contributing to the decline of species:
- The wound of direct killing
- The wound of habitat loss
- The wound of fragmentation
- The wound of loss of ecological processes
- The wound of exotic species
- The wound of pollution and climate change
Aldo Leopold spoke clearly about the wounds caused by human activity in his book Round River:
One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds….An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.
This is part 4 of my series on healing these wounds, and today we’ll be talking about the wound of exotic species.
Invasive and exotic species by human introduction are fast destroying wildlife habitat across the country. One need only visit the Florida Everglades to see this in action. Burmese Pythons, Melaleuca, Old World Climbing Fern, Brazilian Pepper, Apple Snails, Walking Catfish, and so many more invasive species are destroying habitat used by birds and so many other species of wildlife.
As we’ve discussed many times before, if you want to attract wildlife to your garden you need to have native plants, the more the better. Over time wildlife has co-evolved with the native plants of your region creating dependencies between certain animals and specific plants.
This is especially true with insects. Since almost every bird feeds insects to their hatchlings, you need to have a wide range of insect life in your garden to support these young birds.
Introduced invasive plants outcompete native plants, reducing available food for birds and other wildlife.
Removal and control of invasive species costs us as tax payers over $138 Billion every year. Each of us needs to take responsibility for not adding these plants to our gardens.
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Doug Tallamy about the harm invasive plants cause to wildlife. I hope you’ll listen closely to his advice.
There has been a recent rash of research proclaiming that invasive species are here to stay and we need to start looking at them in a new way. Our team member Sue Reed has discussed this research and its implications thoroughly in So, Non-Native Plants Are Good Now?
Please take a good look at the plants you have in your garden and begin removing any that are on your state’s invasive species list. Please print this list out and carry it with you. Do not purchase any plant on that list. That way you can make sure you are not contributing to the wound of exotic species from your own wildlife garden.
Here at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens we’ve been compiling a list of native alternatives to invasive plants, a “Plant This Instead of That” guide. We’d love to hear about your favorite native alternatives to invasive plants in your garden. Please let us know about these by leaving a comment below.
Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.
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