Part I. Hope
~Paying attention to local natural systems teaches us how to bring forth the hidden potential of nature in areas where others have lost hope.
During our ecosystem surveys one of the primary things we find is hope. Although 300 years of landscape degradation have had a profound negative effect on the biodiversity of Eastern Temperate Forests and the ecosystems within them, we are seeing natural renewal. Because of unique pre-existing site conditions distributed across the American landscape, native plant communities do return given time, care, and patience.
They may never be what they once were, but we should take great care to ensure they are able to maximize their biological potential. To conserve biodiversity that took millions of years to generate, we must pay attention to long-standing patterns as we plan for the future. Landscape design that ignores this may be doing more harm than good.
What this means is that you should not give up hope, as gardeners, landscapers, and tinkerers.
Do not fall prey to the misled notion that all is lost. Instead, honor a local definition of the word ‘Native.’ Take note of the native flora that rebound after degradation, for they are the indicators of trajectory. Pay attention to the assemblages that scientists observe in healthy local and regional natural plant communities. It is these assemblages that eons have shaped, and it is these that tell us how we should be landscaping for biodiversity restoration and education.
~Photos by author~
NOTE: Devin has kindly committed to sharing a series of articles on Landscape Restoration. These will be appearing here in rotation with other posts, so check back, or sign up for automatic delivery to see the his next installments. Devin is involved in a multitude of projects, including work on developing a 40 acre arboretum, Quarry Gardens in Schuyler, Virginia, dedicated to interpreting the unique natural plant communities of soapstone formations in the Piedmont. You can keep up with activities and observations of the Center for Urban Habitat on their Facebook page, too: Center for Urban Habitats on Facebook