Thursday, September 12, 2013

Rambunctious Garden [Book Review]

Marris, Emma (2011) Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. Bloomsbury: New York, NY.
This book exposes a paradigm shift going on in the environmental community. Pristine nature is no more. But can we do more than try to conserve little slivers of sensitive habitat in parks? Is there a role for non-native species if the tree provides critical habitat for threatened species and grows faster than natives? Should we assist migration to adapt to climate change, planting trees or moving other species toward the poles? Can our cities provide needed ecosystem services? Does the concept of ecosystem services lead us down a path where money continues to rule? These are the questions this book explores. 

The main point seems to be: give up ever getting back to pre-industrial ecosystems. Instead, we should figure out how to have productive ecosystems that preserve as many of the species as possible. But the tone of the message is hopeful. Yes, humans have changed the landscape inexorably. But humans in pre-history did this too and it doesn̢۪t have to be the end of the world. Even invasive species often get beaten back by nature; for example, ducks have learned to eat the troublesome zebra mussels in Lake Erie. Nature never stands still and doesn'۪t go backward. The question is how do we participate in creating productive ecosystems for species everywhere: in conservation zones, cropland and even your backyard?

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