In the world of invasive species definition discussion, I find no lack of interesting concepts and conclusions. I received an e-mail (author’s name withheld) excerpt which, though hard for me to follow, and, which is quoted in full at the end of this posting, contained an insights worth consideration.
“That said, the built environment, anywhere it dominates (that's everywhere, if you consider global warming an aspect of the built environment), at least disturbs and ordinarily damages natural systems that coexist with the unnatural newcomer the best they can.”
The idea of a pristine natural area, undisturbed, outside the influence of Homo sapiens and his constructs, as a theoretical ideal may have validity, but the actual realization falls short as there are no areas untouched by mankind. In first contact conversations between or among stakeholders, the assumption of the abstract idealization of a “natural” area immediately sets up a debate on definition, partially or fully contextualized by the abstract ideal. In other words, since in a wicked problem, a stakeholder’s solution defines the problem itself, the probability of miscommunication is the probable outcome.
A stakeholder whose solution is to conserve or preserve an untouched natural area sets up a definition which excludes “all” exotics. In turn other stakeholders will react to a perceived proscriptive solution. Perhaps a better solution might be to mitigate damage to natural areas which may lead to the exclusion of some species that may cause harm. This solution has the effect of not being perceived as all or nothing.
Of course a stakeholder, who has not bought into a mitigated natural area solution ,can arrive at the author’s suggestion: “It can be next to impossible to find an ecosystem that is whole, so why insist on native plants? During a time of extinctions, why not celebrate anything and everything that is viable?” Naturally this would set up a wall of cross-purposed debate involving a great deal of time and little forward movement, as, under linear problem solving paradigms, each side would think the other wrong instead of good or better solutions.
copy from the e-mail:
"...suited for this area because this is the ecosystem for which they are adapted, which means, among other things,
1) other beings "expect" them to be present, and will duly serve them or help themselves to what they offer, thus remaining relevant (the plants do more than pose);
2) except in extreme, unusual conditions they are likely to be both thriving, individually and collectively, and regulated (what the plants need, including limits, comes to them);
3) when they're present, the place retains/regains some of its distinction, which can have cultural ramifications (the plants help make the place unique, and arts of that place are echoes of that).
That said, the built environment, anywhere it dominates (that's everywhere, if you consider global warming an aspect of the built environment), at least disturbs and ordinarily damages natural systems that coexist with the unnatural newcomer the best they can. Construction is hard on plants and soils, then impermeable surfaces shed water in goofy ways. It can be next to impossible to find an ecosystem that is whole, so why insist on native plants? During a time of extinctions, why not celebrate anything and everything that is viable?
My own considerations of all this ... lead to a primary emphasis on plants that provide nourishment, useful substances and useful materials, and methods that honor and strive to mimic the ways of nature. Lots of learning ahead!"