Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sustainable Landscapes - Invasive Species

When invasive species are removed from the garden, our landscapes are on their way to being sustainable. As on of the volunteer members of the technical sub committees working on the Sustainable Sites Initiative, I have had the privilege to learn and contribute to a comprehensive design paradigm which addresses sustainability in the landscape. An article in the Washington Post begins the marketing of the sustainable garden idea. The idea of invasive species in the garden can be unsettling, and has in the past created animosity between those who would protect natural areas and those who would enhance ornamental areas.

At the heart of the Sustainable Site program lie ecosystem services. The ecosystem provides humanity with functions mostly taken for granted and assumed to be free. Services and processes such as moderation of weather extremes, dispersal of seeds, mitigation of drought and flood, protection of living organisms from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, regulation and movement of nutrients, protection of stream and river channels as well as protection from erosion along coast lines, detoxification and decomposition of wastes, control of agricultural (food, feed, fiber, fuel, flowers, forest) pests, maintenance of biodiversity, generation and preservation of soils and renewal of their fertility, contribution to climate stability, purification of the air and waste, regulation of disease carrying organisms, pollination of crops and natural vegetation, creation and support of recreational activities.

Sustainable landscapes mitigate the negative effects of invasive species to ecosystem services. Sustainable landscapes are about much more than just invasive species, of course, but since invasives from pathogens to animals, including some favorite garden plants negatively impact ecosystem services, choosing a sustainable alternative makes sense.

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