Wednesday, June 28, 2017

If you plant it, they will come.

It's so easy to shake our heads over the environmental ravages of the Anthropocene, while missing real, concrete steps we can take to save the world.  We get incensed over the way fossil fuel companies or fast food multinationals dodge their responsibilities, but after changing out our lightbulbs and getting a recycling bin, we don't do much ourselves.  Here's what you can do.

Do you own your own house, or business property?  Plant it.  Plant the heck out of it.  When your property was developed, trees were cleared to make room for the builders, and they bulldozed the site to achieve a clean, level slate for construction.  Now that your buildings are up, have you put the plants back?  Your yard was once habitat and it can be again.  But now that you own it, what happens there is up to you.

If you lived in Africa, you'd do your part to help lions and giraffes.  You wonder why the people who live in South America aren't doing doing more to save the rainforest.  Don't discount the value of the wildlife in your own backyard just because it is familiar.  To people in Africa, lions are familiar.  To people in South America, the rainforest is familiar.  It is almost guaranteed that a few species in your neighborhood exist only in a few places on the planet.  And it's up to you to save them.  If you don't do it, no one will.

Lawns never exist naturally, that's why it's so much work to keep one looking nice.  Left to its own devices, Nature always fills the space, and favors diversity.  Here is my suburban yard in summer.  It is stuffed with plants, which create habitat from the root layer up to above head height.  (And higher if you count the mature oak trees!)  To function well as habitat, there must be enough density of plant growth to allow hiding spaces.  Could a bug hide?  Good start.  Could a bird hide?  Even better.  Could you walk past a coyote and not even know it?  Now you have habitat that supports a complete ecosystem, from the smallest herbivores to the top predators.  

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