"Contrary to claims by advocates of fostering and molding novel ecosystems, modern restoration ecology does not attempt to recreate the past; rather, the goal is to re-establish the historical trajectory of an ecosystem before anthropogenic influences derailed it.... There is no evidence that any particular ecosystem cannot be restored in the sense of modern restoration ecology; the impediments are economic and political, not scientific and technological... The contention that novel ecosystems are inevitable and perhaps desirable encourages any tendency to delay prevention and redress of various harmful environmental impacts rather than to undertake new approaches and to devote new resources to long-term solutions to environmental problems."-- Daniel Simberloff (read his complete piece here)
|A small restoration -- but it will only ever be a prairie echo|
We seek control by gardening with plants we find pretty but wildlife don't, plants that have no evolutionary history with soil life or fauna around them, let alone other natural processes and communications. We seek control by saying that plants which local wildlife can't use, that play no role in the latent natural ecosystem, are still working ecologically in some way (often because a non native bee is gathering pollen, or a generalist butterfly is gathering nectar, or robins are nesting in the layers of a forsythia shrub border). Too often in garden and landscape design the focus is largely on, or at least disproportionately, the appearance of landscapes for humans -- no matter how beautiful we make them for us, this does not by default guarantee beauty for other species or wild processes.
Our gardens must reveal a new, deeper sense of beauty, one that embraces the concept from more than a single species' perspective. We must allow our mind and hearts to grow and to hold in one total perception of place the web of all life as we celebrate the healing that urban gardens can give us. When we do this, we'll be happier and healthier in the near and long term.
|Shortgrass prairie in northwest Nebraska|