Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World
Emma Maris, Bloomsbury, Multco 333.9516 M3599r 2011
Humans have been remaking the world since prehistory - there is no virgin wilderness to preserve untouched, and no moment in time that we can define as the one-and-only natural state, which we can restore if only we root up and destroy the human modified ecosystem there now.
Nature is everywhere, even over the paved streets of Manhattan. Nature is nowhere pristine wilderness, everywhere remixed by human presence and a continually evolving climate.
This book celebrates wise reactions to these facts. We can encourage more nature to happen, everywhere. We can foster ever greater diversity. Species disappearing? We cannot recreate the past environment they evolved in, but we can create future environments with niches for those species. Some native species may do better among carefully chosen so-called invasives than among the species they co-evolved with.
Even "co-evolved with" is a misnomer. Because of frequent ice ages, the environment keeps changing, the mix of species keep changing, and species share their location with many different species over time. Versatile species adapt - fragile species vanish, even without human interference.
Stories in the book
Artificial restoration of a lowland forest in the Keaukaha military reservation on the wet side of Big Island Hawaii. Native species evolved more slowly, and continental species outcompete them (p5). About 200 square feet cleared per day of labor (p6). The isolated native species grow slowly. Laupahoehoe Natural Area Reserve is used as a reference (p8) but introduced seedlings are moving in.
US national parks are managed to look like frontier days (p9), but humans changed the landscape and species, tens of thousands of years before, with fire and hunting.
Scotia Sanctuary is 640 km2 northeast of Melbourne, Australia, and includes two 40 km2 fenced areas protecting native marsupials. 6 years of effort to clear to a silmacrum of 1770 (p11).
The faith that native ecosystems are better than changed ecosystems is so pervasive in fields like ecology that it has become an unquestioned assumption (p14)
The Yellowstone Model Romantic authors likr Emerson and Thoreau conflated natural with pastoral. Walden pond was 2.5 km from Concord, along a railroad line that Thoreau walked "every day or two" to town. Suburban Thoreau inspired naturalist John Muir (p21), who helped establish Yosemite.
- The Northern Pacific railroad fostered Yellowstone as a public tourist attraction. Teddy Roosevelt as "wilderness cultist" (p23).
- "A national park should represent a vignette of primitive America" - the 1960s (A. Starker) Leopold Report (p24). About 13% of the Earth's land are protected areas (p25).
- p26 Muir called for the expulsion of the Miwok Indians from Yosemite and they were forcibly removed in 1877 (p26). Indigenous people are the new "conservation refugees".
- p28 Early 1900s, Frederic Clements: the "balance of nature", a supposed stable endpoint, a climax grouping of species
- p29 Lotka-Volterra equations, oscillating symmetry
p30 Daniel Botkin - random stochasticity, not symmetry, 1990 book Discordant Harmonies
- p31 Feng Sheng Hu - secular climate change is faster than Douglas Fir lifetimes
- p32 40K to 100Kyear glaciation cycles, 10Kyear interglacials like the present, species redistribute with every cycle
- p33 some regions still recovering from the last ice age
p37 Bialowieza Primeval Forest in Poland, 1500 km2 ancient game preserve for royalty. European bison (wisent) survive.
- p44 13Kya, American megafauna wiped out.
- p47 humans in New Zealand 800 years ago, moas extinct 400 years ago.
- p48 3000 years of extinction in the south Pacific.
- p48 As many as 112M people in pre-Columbian Americas, 95% wiped out by European diseases.
- p49 prairies artifacts of native American fire management. Terra preta soil hints of 8 million Amazonians.
- p50 giant herds of Great Plains bison emerged after human hunters died of disease, ditto passenger pigeons.
- p52 Edward Abbey, Dave Foreman - misanthropes? Foreman: interact with the land on its own terms.
p54 Bill McKibben, untouched nature is all gone, everything tainted.
p57 Radical Rewilding Frans Vera's Oostvaarderplassen, 60 km2 of designed nature preserve near Amsterdam.
- p58 Proxies for lost species: Polish Konik horses simulate ancient wild tarpans. Heck cattle simulate auroch.
- p60 wild burros simulate extinct Equus caballus near the Grand Canyon
- p64 "texotics" - African animals on Texas hunting ranches
p74 Assisted Migration moving plants and animals northward with climate change
p78 adaptation is a dirty word to some environmentalists, a distraction from reducing emissions.
- p78 Connie Barlow and Reverend Mchael Dowd, "evolutionary evangelists" lecturing mostly at Unitarian churches, preserving Torreya taxifolia.
- p86 Gerry oaks on Vancouver Island.
- p89 B.C. forester Greg O'Neill. AMAT Assisted Migration Adaptation Trial.
- p90 BEC Biogeoclimatic Ecological Classification
- p98 "some exotics are a huge problem, the vast majority are not"
p100 Park Service clearing the banks of the James Rover of the common reed Phragamites australis
- p101 Charles Elton's 1958 "invasion biology"
- p103 Dov Sax 2002: invasions greatly outnumber extinctions, for example Easter Island: 50 natives, 7 extinct, 68 introductions
- extinctions by predators, not competition
p104 Mark Davis book Invasion Biology suggests dismantling the field
p111 Novel Ecosystems Joseph Hooker transformed Ascension Island from monotonous ferns to diverse coadapted cloud forest
- p112 Joe Mascaro studies novel ecosystems, which colonize lava flows in Hawaii. Pine plantations in Puerto Ricko more efficient and diverse than native forests
- p123 pre-Columbian Piedmont streams were more like swamps. Then came millponds and sediment, then breached dans and deeply inscised fast channels
- p133 Duwamish River part habitat, partly industrial waterway
- p134 Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition - "eco-industrial vision" - Cari Simson, staffer. "daylighted" Hamm Creek
- p135 "adding land to our portfolio and deepening the value of the lands in play"
- p136 Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, extending through ranches to the Yukon. Conservation easements. Agri-environment
p145 U AZ Micheal Rosenzweig reconciliation ecology new habitats for species diversity where people live, work, or play.
p147 Ilkka Hanski's 1500 m2 feral yard, waist-high meadow, 375 species.
- So-Cal Douglas Kent: no-input groundcovers, ncreeping red fescue and sedges.
- p149 Missouri Peter Raven: "a garden is like a painting you paint over every year."
p154 Aldo Leopold land ethic: moral obligation to "soils, waters, plants, and animals"
- p156 protect charismatic megafauna, like elephants p158 slow the extinction rate p160 protect genetic diversity ... etc.
- p91 "climate envelope" moving north 100 km per decade.