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Restoring Ecosystem Functionality

Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4417
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
164
I met this guy at the Water Symposium in Tamera - he was totally inspiring and is trying to get across the message of how important natural ecosystems are. The video is only three minutes long and well worth watching.



When I spoke with him, he was of the opinion that while permaculture could certainly *feed* the world, only restoring the natural ecosystems in the wilderness regions could *save* it.

Comments anyone?


What is a Mother Tree ?
Nick Garbarino


Joined: Apr 24, 2012
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
I agree with him. In the far distant future, man-made permaculture food forests will, hopefully be everywhere throughout urban, suburban, and even rural areas, but even then, the natural "wild" ecosystems should still represent >99% of the total terrestrial biomass on the planet . We need to always have a lot of natural ecosystems to continue to provide learning opportunities, as well as the myriad animal, plant, fungal, and microbiological species that our permaculture forests depend on, and to continue to carry the bulk of the load of ecological services a healthy planet needs. We are very intelligent, but we will never be as smart at designing ecosystems as Mother Earth. After all, she's had billions of years to perfect her craft. All the worlds supercomputers multiplied by billions could not process all the information contained in the natural world.

Every approach to achieving his (and our) dream leads back to one thing - human population control. Unless world population trends downward to much lower levels, all other measures relating to improving efficiencies simply allow for more people. Growth, whether it be population, energy, capitalism, you name it, is not sustainable. Only equilibrium is sustainable. So here's the ultimate question - How is human population control achieved by a species designed by evolution to increase its numbers?


Certifiable food forest gardener, free gardening advice offered and accepted. Permaculture is the intersection of environmentalsim and agriculture.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Nick Garbarino wrote: How is human population control achieved by a species designed by evolution to increase its numbers?


The answer to that is not a mystery. http://www.populationconnection.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issues_defendingwomensrts


Idle dreamer

tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3080
Location: woodland, washington
    
  52
hey folks. going to do a little bit of moderating/stewarding here:

population is one of those topics that just doesn't seem to work well here. so I would like to ask folks to avoid bringing it up. I'm not suggesting that it isn't important and something that should be talked about, just that it shouldn't be talked about here. previously, roughly 100% of discussions of population on this forum have descended into nastiness in short order. it's unfortunate, but there's no way around it.

so, kindly remove the population bits, and things should be fine.


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tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3080
Location: woodland, washington
    
  52
so I watched the video. I liked the shots of the forest. I liked hearing the birds. very much like the national forest near my home. made me want to get out there and wander around. and while I don't disagree with anything John Liu said, I think that's more because he didn't say much of anything. trees live a long time, then they die and enrich the forest. organic matter is important. intact ecosystems are important. biodiversity is important. those are all things I'm on board with. then he invites me to "join us." to do what? what am I joining him/them for? something about restoring sustainability? great. sign me up.

I think I would get along with Mr. Liu just fine. I get the impression that he's got a lot of things figured out and that he's got some important things to share. making a teaser for "Restoring Ecosystem Functionality" might not be one of the things he's got figured out. this is, of course, more of a personal aesthetic objection to the video than the content of John Liu's project.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Burra Maluca wrote:, only restoring the natural ecosystems in the wilderness regions could *save* it.


I'm always a bit skeptical of claims about "this is the ONLY thing that will save us." Because people say that about a bunch of stuff.

I'm curious how we "restore natural ecosystems in the wilderness regions." What is a "wilderness region" and how do people get there to "restore" it? It's easier for me to understand restoring ecosystems throughout all regions, but this idea of "wilderness regions" needing to be "restored" is problematic to me. Personally I think maybe if there are any wilderness regions remaining, we should leave them the heck alone and spend our energies fixing back all the other regions we've ruined. But that's just me thinking about my own limited abilities. I'll never go to a "wilderness region" again, I've only ever been to one in my life (Sangre De Christo mountains). So I can't do a darn thing there. But I can help restore the ecosystem in my locale, in a tiny local way.
Nick Garbarino


Joined: Apr 24, 2012
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
Texas made a deal when they became part of the U.S. that they would not allow the federal government to own land there. So, unlike every other state, there is almost no federal land in Texas. One very large exception is Big Bend National Park, which is a huge wilderness area. King Ranch is huge, the size of many counties owned by one private family, bigger than some states, but I'm guessing they have grazed most of it, so it probably does not have much in the way of healthy ecosystem. So, what's left in Texas is scattered little pockets here and there that haven't been developed. In Edible Food Forests, by Chris Jacke, he points out that the biology community's consensus is that it takes about 1 million contiguous acres to support a truly functional ecosystem. (If I remember correctly). Also, if I remember correctly, close to half of the land west of the Mississippi River is owned by the federal government and most of it is relatively undeveloped, although logging and mining interests lease a good bit of it and their activities have definitely degraded the ecosystems. Alaska, ah, now there's a whole lot of nice wilderness up there. Most of Canada too. A whole lot still in the tropics although it is shrinking fast. The Russian tundra. Much of the Hymalayas. A lot of the Indo-Pacific. I can't go into the "p" word, but it is of course why these areas are shrinking. Where we am at here in Florida, we have about 200,000 contiguous acres of wilderness, known as the Nature Coast, right next door. It's a nice patchwork of federal, state, and local land and it is pristine, complete with bears, eagles, alligators, big cats, and all the rest. It's not a million acres, but it's nice. If I can get all my neighbors to plant food forests, maybe we can get it all to add up to a million acres some day!
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 4417
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
    
164
What struck me was that, as I understand it, permaculture is all about designing our own functional ecosystems. So it should be possible for own systems to support the 'global' ecosystem. Also, I'm pretty sure that Mollison's view of permaculture included a rather extensive Zone 5, which is a wilderness area that is pretty much left to nature.

I found this 12 minute video discussing one man's thoughts on Zone 5, posted on his website.




I don't actually own a copy of Mollison's book. Does anyone have any info on what he actually says about zone 5 and wilderness areas?
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
"One certain result of using our skills to integrate food supply and settlement, to catch water from our roof areas, and to place nearby a zone of fuel forest which receives wastes and supplies energy, will be to free most of the area of the globe for the rehabilitation of natural systems. These need never be looked upon as 'of use to people', except in the very broad sense of global health."

Permaculture, A Designers Manual, Chapter 1

"Zone 5. We characterise this zone as the natural, unmanaged environment used for occasional foraging, recreation, or just let be. This is where we learn the rules to apply elsewhere."

"In wilderness we are visitors or strangers. We have neither need nor right to interfere or dominate. We should not settle there, and thus leave wastelands at our back. In wilderness we may learn lessons basic to good design, but we cannot improve on the information already available there. In wilderness, we learn of our little part in the scheme of all things."

Permaculture a Designers Manual, Chapter 3
Robert Ray
volunteer

Joined: Jul 06, 2009
Posts: 1315
Location: Cascades of Oregon
    
  12
It is a beautiful forest less than an hour from where I live on the east side of the Cascades. It is amazing how the forest changes from high desert on my side to that green wetter vegitation on the west side.


"There is enough in the world for everyones needs, but not enough for everyones greed"
(Buckman)
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
It reminded me a little of the work I've been doing in our forest. Although I am clearing trails to access deeper into our forest (right now I have trails into about 1/4 or less of it) I am not removing anything, only moving it around a little.

Where I put trails, I remove the downed branches and twigs and I pile them along the edges of the trails ..just off the trails..so that they can rot down into the ground naturally. I choose to make the trails in the areas that are already open so I really don't have to cut down trees, just pick up debris,and I do only mow them a couple times a year to keep them fairly flat for access.

I have noticed some areas of our woods that have tended toward a monoculture and it kinda bothers me a little as it is the alder forest..the only other plants that grow there are grasses and wild violets. I know it is chock full of nutrients, rich black soil, and I would love to introduce more life to that area, as the alders grow, died, grow, die and nothing else comes of it..but I also am a little concerned about throwing off the balance. (I have a thread in this forum concerning this).

I know it is important to leave dead snags up for the woodpeckers and other wildlife that use them, but I have also created lots and lots of large brushpiles in the woods for the larger critters ..I call them my "habitats for inhumanity" as there are so many areas near us that have been clear cut and there is no where else for the critters to go..this week saw lots of bear sign in our woods so I know they are taking advantage of the wild areas we have left for them, and they USE the trials to walk on as do the deer and other critters.

seeing those PNW photos are inspiring..thanks (as far as the population argument, I am fully able to skip over it)


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
 
 
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