“When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.” Alanis Obomsawin
Land stewardship is not just a feel good idea, it is essential to life on Earth. Without the biodiversity necessary to support wildlife, ecosystems will collapse and we will not be able to survive. We really are totally dependent on nature for our very existence on this planet.
Why is this now so urgent and why do we need to take immediate action ? Listen to Doug Tallamy, University of Delaware entomology and wildlife ecology professor, explain why.
Biodiversity loss, insect apocalypse, bird decline, and climate crisis are clear signals that nature is in trouble. Protecting nature is not optional—it’s a necessity. As Dr Tallamy says, A world without biodiversity is a world without humans.
My heart is heavy as I look out over the ecological wasteland of my neighborhood. There are lawns, ornamental (non-native) plants and invasive plants everywhere, except in one person’s yard. The reason she has native plants is because I told her about the need for them and she listened. Clearly, homeowners need information about biodiversity and native plants.
In many areas of the country, land is sold to developers who bare the ground to build houses. Healthy trees are removed with no thought to the harm caused to wildlife. The protests of residents and environmental groups are not heard, because money speaks louder. This is how ecological wastelands are created. Wildlife doesn’t stand a chance under these conditions, and frankly, neither do we. These actions only hasten our own demise, yet the assault on nature continues unabated.
But cutting down trees and baring land is not the only problem. Are you aware that many native plant cultivars do not offer adequate nutrition for wildlife? Often the few native plants available at garden centers and nurseries are cultivars. We can change this practice by asking for straight species natives and walking away if they are not available. It is possible to find native plant nurseries that carry straight species.
Invasive plants are another problem. Many garden centers and nurseries sell invasive plants that escape from home gardens and choke out natives. Thankfully, Pennsylvania has banned the sale of two invasives—Callery (Bradford) pear tree and barberry shrub. But many more invasives are still being sold, such as English ivy, Japanese honeysuckle, periwinkle, butterfly bush, Chinese wisteria, heavenly bamboo, spirea and burning bush.
But invasive plants sold by garden centers are not the only invasives that cause problems. Invasive species introduced from other countries are a disaster for our woodlands and home gardens. Japanese stiltgrass, multiflora rose, kudzu, oriental bittersweet vine, and Japanese honeysuckle are blanketing our forests and showing up in home gardens. These plants need to be removed immediately when discovered in home gardens, because they spread rapidly.
We can no longer ignore nature or confine it to some other place. Home ownership comes with the responsibility of land stewardship. I realize not everyone has an interest in gardening. However, don’t let this stop you from taking responsibility for your land. There are many landscapers who can remove invasive plants and convert part of a property from ornamental plants to native plants.
But it’s not just homeowners who need to be land stewards. Local governments must realize how important it is to preserve natural areas. We can no longer act like nature is a product for our consumption. As long as we value money over everything else, we will not address this situation.
If this blog woke you up, please go to Dr Tallamy’s Homegrown National Park initiative to learn more. Consider joining our Biodiversity Group and/or our TTM Biodiversity Group Facebook page, where you will find a wealth of information and others who are passionate about restoring biodiversity and planting natives. We can turn this disaster around with your help.