The Importance of Native Plants, Part 1
The Need to Plant Natives in (sub)Urban Landscapes
As development and subsequent habitat destruction accelerate, there are increasing pressures on wildlife populations. But there is an important and simple step toward reversing this alarming trend: Everyone with access to a patch of earth can make a significant contribution toward sustaining biodiversity. There is an unbreakable link between native plant species and native wildlife - native insects cannot, or will not, eat non-native plants. When native plants disappear, so do native insects; subsequently, the food source for birds and other animals is dramatically reduced. In many parts of the United States, habitat destruction has been so extensive that local wildlife populations have entered a state of crisis and may be headed toward extinction. Bringing Nature Home, by Douglas W. Tallamy, Ph.D., has sparked a national conversation about the link between healthy local ecosystems and human well-being. By acting on his practical recommendations, which are highlighted below, we can all make a difference.
Gardening For Life
Chances are, you have never thought of your yard as a wildlife preserve that represents the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals that were once common throughout Florida. But that is exactly the role our suburban landscapes are now playing and will play even more in the near future.
|The traditional residential landscape|
does little for fostering biodiversity.
|The face of urban sprawl|
The population of Florida (now over 19 million people) continues to grow while our natural resources and drinking water availability have shrunk to all-time lows. Our population explosion has gone hand-in-hand with urban sprawl and hundreds of miles of new roadways that bisect native habitats and large mammal migratory routes (black bear, panther, etc.). The effect on natural ecosystems and biodiversity has been devastating. Migratory birds that have stopped in the same areas for centuries are increasingly finding it difficult to find their native plant food sources. Somewhere along the way we also decided to remove most of the native plant food sources for birds and other wildlife on our properties into huge expanses of lawn.
|Is lawn mowing an activity that deserves the|
praise it gets? Furthernore, why is this guy
|U. S. Land Use (lower 48 states)|
We're all in this together
For most of us, hearing such numbers triggers a passing sadness; but few people feel personally threatened by the loss of biodiversity. It IS, in fact, something that should cause every one of us reason to be alarmed. Here is why: a diverse network of native plants, animals, and insect species evolve together in ecosystems - they interact and depend upon one another specifically for what each offers, such as food, shelter, oxygen, and soil enrichment. We humans have inserted themselves into those ecosystems. We benefit from the oxygen that plants create (and the carbon they sequester), the water they filter, and their protection from extreme weather. We eat the fruits that were made possible by insect pollinators, who themselves are a food source for animals.
Humans cannot behave as though they are the most important species on this planet because their lives depend on the services provided by OTHER SPECIES. We encourage our own demise every time we force a species to extinction. Maintaining the species in each ecosystem is necessary to the preservation of the intricate web of life that sustains all living things. E. O. Wilson (known as the "father of biodiversity") said, "It is reckless to suppose that biodiversity can be diminished indefinitely without threatening humanity itself."
Bringing Nature Home
Because our yards and gardens are part of the terrestrial ecosystems that sustain humans and the life around us, it is essential that we keep them in working order. Tallamy discusses the important ecological roles of the plants in our landscapes, emphasizes the benefits of designing gardens with those roles in mind, and explores the consequences of failing to do so. Gardening in this crowded world carries both moral and ecological responsibilities.
Please click HERE for Part 2 of this blog
---posted and edited by Laurie Sheldon