Habitats, Ecology: Thoughts

The documentary movie “Ocean” offers an overwhelming portrayal of what our planet has to offer in the way of wildlife, a wildlife with intricate adaptations to an astonishing environment — it portrays an incredible balance which has worked its way into existence over the millennia. The fleeting glimpse and hearsay that most of us get in regards to the wildness that is left on our planet do not come close to conveying what is out there. Seeing “Ocean”, which brings you in close, may do that for you. Shouldn’t we allow this incredible existence to survive, shouldn’t we stop intruding on it? Humans are very self-centered creatures, as are all creatures — the difference is that we humans have the ability not to be. Humans have stripped the earth of much of its resources for our own benefit. We pollute without thinking of the others with whom we share the planet. And ultimately humans want to manage everything according to their own view — have we really forgotten that nature balances itself best? It is best to leave everything we can alone.

Cleaning up the environment is one thing we need to do — we caused this problem. But do we need to actually recreate environments by introducing species that have not been there for centuries, or by removing what is now there? In the San Francisco area, we have a native plant program: a program for reintroducing native plants, and removing everything this program calls “invasive” or “non-native”. However, the native plant program has not been thought out thoroughly — there are repercussions involving the removal of plants and underbrush that serve as protective animal habitats. The program is a”fad” advocated by the very few and basically put up with by the many who don’t know how nor have the time to fight it. The programs hopes to alter an entire third of our park space. This program is an arbitrary one, with no scientific basis. Their need seems to be to “manage” everything — to intrude and control and change things “in their own image.” No one is against native plants, but to tear down everything that came after an arbitrary date is not scientific and not wanted by most people.

A posting I received from the Ethological Ethics Yahoo group, written by Marc Bekoff and David Crawford, states my position nicely: “A number of ethical questions arise that warrant serious consideration because we, human beings with large brains, self-centered importance, and a tendency to be thoroughly and uniquely invasive, can do anything we want to other animals and their habitats. Many conservationists are concerned about the widespread loss of critical habitat as we redecorate nature. Loss of habitat is . . . an environmental matter.” The San Francisco Natural Areas Program is willingly sacrificing the habitat of owls, raccoons, and coyotes for that of butterflies and damselflies — is this not ethically wrong? They need to realize that they are intruding upon ecosystems which have been evolving since 1776 — the date they have chosen to return to. You can’t go back.

“Can we really “recreate” or “restore” ecosystems?” ”. . . It is difficult if not impossible to recreate or restore ecosystems to what they were in the past,”  say Bekoff and Crawford.

One of my favorite websites is one where the blogger really appreciates the nature that he encounters: Coyote Watches. There are exquisite photos of trees and birds, and writings about nature that everyone will thoroughly appreciate.

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