Monday, 18 March 2013

Bringing nature home -- Doug Tallamy

Doug Tallamy is Professor and Chair of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the U of Delaware. This post is excerpted from "gardening for life" on his site Bringing Nature Home. See his book.

Chances are, you have never thought of your garden -- indeed, of all of the space on your property -- as a wildlife preserve that represents the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals that were once common throughout North America. But that is exactly the role our suburban landscapes are now playing and will play even more in the near future. 

Lawn is the least productive thing we can do with land, next to paving it over. I keep just enough to walk around my wild garden. But we Americans mow an area of grass 8 times the size of the state of New Jersey to one inch from the ground each week, and congratulate ourselves on a job well done. And it’s not like those little woodlots and “open spaces” we have are pristine. Nearly all are second-growth forests that have been thoroughly invaded by alien plants like ugly Agnes, Ejitsu rose, Oriental bittersweet, and Japanese honeysuckle. 

We are a threat to biodiversity. Other living creatures need food and shelter to survive and reproduce. We have eliminated both. In my home state, Delaware, at least 40% of native plant species are rare or extinct, and 41% of native forest birds no longer nest there. Is your garden for the birds? What do they need to survive and reproduce? 

 With man-made climate change threatening the planet, it is biodiversity that will suck carbon out of the air and sequester it in living plants. Humans cannot live as the only species on this planet because it is other species that create the ecosystem services essential to us. Every time we force a species to extinction we are encouraging our own demise. What do we need? NATIVE PLANTS, and lots of them. 

Here is his 2012 lecture at College of the Atlantic

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