Replacing (Entire) Existing Ecosystems

Discussion in 'Put Your Questions to the Experts!' started by AnonymousAnomalous1, Jan 16, 2018.

  1. AnonymousAnomalous1

    AnonymousAnomalous1 New Member

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    One of the more controversial concepts I have personally proposed, which has received mixed reviews at best, is the idea of replacing entire, non-productive ecosystems with natural, albeit man-made food forest systems. These would generally surround community developments and isolated community service centers and be utilized for the purposes of increased food production and agricultural security for the local people.

    Do you believe it would be wrong to replace a natural, non-productive ecosystem with a larger, more productive, man-made natural ecosystem such as a food forest?
     
  2. BajaJohn

    BajaJohn Member

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    Ecosystem: a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.
    • (in general use) a complex network or interconnected system.
    How is this non-productive?
    Of course, one or another version of this has been the way of the world since well before homo species appeared.
     
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  3. AnonymousAnomalous1

    AnonymousAnomalous1 New Member

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    Non productive insofar as it produces nothing beneficial to humans at present. For example, a natural wooded area such as those across Seattle, wherein there are a large number of trees, but very little animal life and no plant life that is beneficial to humans. In my scenario, the entire ecosystem would be replaced with a Food Forest, leaving of course, certain areas for different types of animal life and also creating an overall, more symbiotic type of ecosystem.

    I am talking about being productive in a more wholly symbiotic fashion by and between all species of life.
     
  4. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    your idea reflects a lack of knowledge of what various ecosystems do, i'm quite sure that what you see as unproductive is doing quite alright given the conditions as long as it isn't being degraded by human activities.

    instead let us talk about an actually known unproductive system like many areas that are paved over in the middle of cities. if you can turn that into a food forest with what you think are only human usable plants, well after a while what happens? nature finds a way to bring other surrounding plant species into the mix. you will have animals, wind, rain, dirt being moved, etc. which will spread things around.

    left to it's own devices an area will reflect the species around it to some extent, through time any disturbance is aiming towards whatever climax system is native to that area. around here it is white pine forests and oak trees in the well drained areas, and more swampy species in the rest of the place. in the short term it would be taken over by poplars and other scrub trees. fire and storms provide some openings, beavers, if they would be allowed to come back would create openings too along the streams.
     
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  5. Daron Williams

    Daron Williams New Member

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    I'm near your area just down south in Olympia so I think I can picture the forests you are talking about. Much of our area has been logged and replanted with a monoculture of Douglas fir. Due to the past disturbance the diversity of species can be fairly low in these regrowth areas. This can be amplified due to several factors:
    1. Lack of woody debris on the forest floor. In post logged areas much of the debris was burned and this limits habitat.
    2. High density planting of Douglas fir. Most of these second growth forests are very densely planted and are made up of trees all about the same age.
    So what could you do to improve this situation, add some productivity from a human needs perspective, and still support local native species? First I would familiarize yourself with all the native edible species we have in our area. Just some examples are the beaked hazelnut, coastal gooseberry, serviceberry, several huckleberries, in wet areas wapato can be grown which is a great tuber that was a staple crop for first nations, and there are tons of others.

    Second, I would not aim to replace the existing habitat but instead diversify it. Assuming the area is over crowded with trees all the same age like most regrown logged forests in our area I would thin it but leave the woody debris where they fall and also girdle some to make dead standing trees. You could also create some open patches that would have more sunlight. These open areas could be planted with fruiting plants that are productive for humans. You could also use the fallen trees for edible mushroom growing. Essentially, the aim is to create the structure of an old growth forest in a relatively young forest. Here is an article that outlines this goal: https://harvardforest.fas.harvard.e...lications/pdfs/Damato_umassextension_2007.pdf

    Third, before you got started I would see if there are already variations of habitat within the existing forest that you could build on. Perhaps there is already an open area that you could expand a bit. In our area these open parts might be filled with invasive Himalayan blackberries or scotch broom. You could remove these and replace them with less aggressive and more beneficial species that would provide a harvest. There may be seasonally wet areas that you could turn into ponds and also areas where swales might make sense. This way you would increase the availability of water on the land which would support a greater diversity.

    Fourth, many of our native edibles will grow and fruit in the shade. These could be lacking but you could add them to the existing forest areas. Huckleberries, black cap raspberries, and others are all examples. In the open areas that you created I would focus on the non-native but productive edible crops and in the shady areas and edges the native edibles will thrive. Of course we also have a lot of native edibles that like open areas such as camas (if the soils support it) that I would encourage you to include.

    So instead of thinking about replacing I would focus on creating edges and increasing diversity of habitat. We are really lucky that in our area there are so many native edibles to chose from. There are also medicinal plants that are much rarer today in part because they were over harvested in the past. Cascara which can be used as a laxative is an example. It was over harvested by settlers before synthetic alternatives were developed and is a lot rarer then it used to be. But it will also happily grow in shade or full sun making it a great tree to include and it only gets about 30ft high.

    Just some thoughts for you to consider. I hope this helps!
     
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  6. AnonymousAnomalous1

    AnonymousAnomalous1 New Member

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    Well I have not been in the states in nearly two decades, but I was very familiar with the situation in Washington from the massive timber industry there. What I am referring to is construction in new community developments, not reforestation efforts and I am quite certain I will not have any takers if I offer to go in and destroy existing infrastructure for the sake of "planting trees". (Which is exactly how a great many would see it)

    The food forests and other manmade, natural ecosystems would of course be built in open areas in the opening phases. Additional efforts would be made in areas that had been excavated for construction of the new communities. (This is for a very large scale project being proposed that previously had absolutely no Environmental efforts included ... I am just trying to get what I can included in the proposal ... seemed better than letting people run roughshod over the existing forests with their excavating equipment and pavers to me)

    Ideally, we will be able to get much of the construction underground, including the major thoroughfares and means for industry and production. However, the current ecosystems will be greatly (and adversely in many cases) impacted any way the project is undertaken. My thoughts are for the preservation of the local plant and animal life (especially) since they will be the most directly affected. However, the idea is to build in the open areas first, and as the project continues, expanding these manmade ecosystems into the areas that have been excavated, and at a later date and as the initial projects mature, to begin replacing other local ecosystems in order to expand the production of foods and other goods for the local people and for the formerly indigent and other underclass citizens in the nation where the project will be built.
     
  7. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    It seems to me that you are talking more about working in new development areas where just about everything has already been disturbed and turned into a monocrop, Modern Agriculture type model. If that is the case then you won't be disturbing nature's attempt to regain balance, which would be the absolute wrong thing to do.

    There are already several companies that do "Restoration" type work, but I think you are talking more along the lines of Remediation/Reclamation type works.
    The Reclamation of disturbed lands, such as those in and around New Housing developments and Commercial Centers would be a grand thing to use food forest type plantings in, thus providing food sources for those who end up occupying the new buildings. Using the food forest model for Purpose designed Landscaping could probably be sold to many developers since they would be able to promote their newly developed areas under the Green banner as well as being able to promote it as more food friendly spaces for both adults and children.
     
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