The "anti-exotics" movement is a growing threat to biodiversity conservation efforts. In the past 10 years, the mythology of "Invasive non-native species" has spread from a minor pseudo-science indulged in by the gullible fringe, to a growing extremist movement uncritically embraced by otherwise responsible groups.
Our natural areas, from bio-preserves to National Parks are daily attacked by these extremists, using herbicide, chainsaws and bulldozers. Dozens of native plants have been falsely labled "Invaders" and are being exterminated.The process is driven in part by hysteria, and in part by greed. Tremendous sums of money are being made on these extermination projects. For example, Monsanto, a major herbicide manufacturer was a sponsor of the 1994 California Exotic Pest Plant Council meeting, has an employee on the Council's board of directors, and was hawking their herbicides at a prominent booth. During breaks there was open discussion of ways to circumvent enviromental laws restricting herbicide use in sensitive natural areas.
"Exotic Pest Plant Councils" are cropping up around the country, promoting heavy use of herbicides in our parks, and lobbying for extremist legislation, including a federal law which will "PROHIBIT ANY MOVEMENT OF ANY SPECIES" unless the government determines it will "Cause No Harm". Only species on so called "Clean Lists" will be allowed to be distributed or imported. Any species not on the "Clean List" will require expensive testing and approval before distribution. This is the first thrust towards the total corporate control of biodiversity. Only they will be able to afford testing, etc.
This will eliminate our single most effective biodiversity preservation strategy. The ONLY effective long term method of preserving biodiversity is the naturalization of species in new regions, where they may thrive and spread without human protection. While bio-preserves, parks, botanic gardens and zoos are important and needed, these are only temporary measures. What park will be able to withstand the future starving billions?
Two forces are causing rapid destructive change, the rapid increase in human population, and the rapid spread of technological/industrial society. These forces are working together to cause a worldwide biological holocaust aimilar to past extinction events. The techno/industrial society expands, destroying indigenous, biologically-derived human cultures, replacing them with a homogenous, machine-driven pseudoculture of production and consumption. A viscious circle is created when the survival drives of an ever-expanding population forces humanity to adopt the short-term resource-extractive methods and values of the techno/industrial pseudoculture. Although theoretically, simple methods exist for opening this circle and existing with minimum human and biological suffering, this is likely precluded by our biological imperative, as well as the overpowering machine-imperatives of industrial consumption. Whether this viscious circle will reach critical mass and crash in a single, precipitous de-populating, de-industrializing event, or will unravel in a series of stepwise crashes over the next thousand years or so is anyone's guess.However it seems likely that high rates of extinction will prevail over the next 1000 to 10,000 years or so.
It has been demonstrated that the human transport of organisms may establish new populations of species in safe refuges, preventing extinction & increasing local biodiversity. In the short term, this directly protects the naturalized species from extinction in its homeland, and the enriched diversity provides a buffer against the effects of human-induced extinctions on the local ecosystem, increasing its resiliency, helping its adaptation to change and promoting the evolutionary processes, since the interaction among unlike organisms is a powerful driving force of evolution. The diversifying evolutionary cascades which will result offer the chance that our species will leave the world with the potential for increased diversity, somewhat offsetting our current shameful irresponsibility.
Knowingly or unknowingly, gardeners participate in this process. Through their lifeways, all organisms modify their enviroment and participate in the creation of the lanscapes in which they live. Corals build reefs, plants create soil, and animals transplant seeds nutrients long distances. Part of the lifeways of bluejays & squirrels is to plant acorns far from the oak, helping the forest migrate or heal burned or cleared areas. Our own lifeways of travelling about and admiring beauty cause us to gather useful and beutiful plants to grow around our homes, initiating the process of diversification. Many primates are key seed dispersal vectors in tropical ecosystems, and this is part of our evolutionary heritage.
The reintroduction of diminished or exterminated species is diversity restoration, restoration gardening or restoration ecology. We call the introduction of endangered species "Rescue Gardening" or "Rescue Ecology". To describe the combined use of these methods, I have coined the phrase "EVOLUTIONARY GARDENING". J. L. Hudson