Beyond the War on Invasive Species: A Book Review (Part 2)


In one of my previous posts I wrote about my experience reading Beyond the War on Invasive Species: A Permaculture Approach to Ecosystem Restoration by Tao Orion. These are the next phases in the analysis of an invasive species.

Phase 3: Make a Plan

It is time to plan for your ecosystem based on all of the information and observations collected so far. The previous two phases were information gathering and now we will put it all together. See my previous post for the details.

Identify Long Term Goals

Here are some questions to help you to see if the ‘weed’ can be useful in your situation.
What is the goal for the site? Think in terms of five, fifty and five hundred years. This will probably be beyond what you have planned for your property but needs to be considered.
What is the management plan? Think of methods like mulching, fire, mowing, grazing.
Are there local codes? Where we are, we can’t burn piles larger than 1m3 without a permit.
Who are the stakeholders? What are their concerns and opinions? Think neighbours etc.
Can the invasive species be used usefully? Such as compost or mulch.
Can some of the invasive species be left for long term observation?

Take the Long View

When considering removing an invasive species we have to think about the possible long-term function of the species. Species can be considered invasive due to there being no obvious natural “checks and balances”. However due to our rapidly changing climate there may be use for the plant in the future. This really spun me on my head as we are so convinced to believe ‘put native plants everywhere’, but is it really the best option for the ecosystem in the future?

Maximise Diversity

Diverse ecosystems are more stable over time. We should allow for many different structures within the new ecosystem design to prevent possible invasions in the future. Think of a forest where there are plants that occupy different levels within the ecosystem.

Use Appropriate Technology

By using the correct techniques, we can prevent invasions from reoccurring. By cutting plants back or burning them instead of pulling them up, we can avoid disturbing soils which can cause follow on invasions.

Use Biological Resources

By using grazing animals instead of mowing to control invasive species we can obtain a yield. There are many biological resources we can use to our advantage.

Consider Relative Location

By considering zoning not only within your property but also within your region we can come up with better solutions. Maybe there is an area around the corner that has a different situation.

Be Realistic: Quick Fix-Retrofit-Ultimate Permaculture

We have to consider the solutions that may be suitable for the short term but maybe not the long term. This is to cover the possible eventuality of not dealing with the root cause of the invasive species. This is something I am facing at the moment. By clearing my lantana, what am I achieving? Another invasion of something else?

The Problem is the Solution

Consider alternate uses for the invasive species. Maybe it can solve a problem within a different ecosystem.

Anticipate Slow Variables

By designing the ability to change within your plan then if conditions change all bases are covered.

Phase 4: Implementation

Wise Resource Use

Within permaculture, resources can be categorised into the following:
·       Increase with use
·       Be lost when not used
·       Be unaffected by use
·       Be lost by use
·       Pollute or degrade systems with use
We want to try and achieve a regenerative approach rather than destructive.

Obtain a Yield

By becoming producers rather than consumers we can use the invasive species to our advantage.

Use and Value the Marginal

By considering alternate uses of marginal land we can create new ecosystems or economies by utilising invasive species. The author has a great example in the book of a very creative use of swampland.

In a future post I will go through an example of a weed species on my property. I hope this has helped someone to think about the ‘weeds’ we have come to know and think about them a bit differently.
Until next time,
Kat

2 comments

  1. In my experience, any decent native plants, are the first to die in extremes. The bushfire prone ones will stick around, to fuel the next bush fire season. It's only been through so-called introduced weed species, the holes created by native die-off, have been filled.

    The leucaena trees for example, have been feeding our kangaroos, when all their native forage, died from lack of precipitation. Even the saltbush and pigeon peas have been taxed hard, but the leucaena has been able to produce new growth, on virtually no rain at all. When the weather patterns become more extreme, we have to be able to find plants that fill those niches, other plants fail to.

    So I couldn't agree more with your review, and look forward to reading about your own weed species. It wasn't mentioned, but consider the annual weeds and perennial ones. For example, all our low growing annual weeds, have been fully consumed by the kangaroos - but the trees are harder to get to. I'm starting to experiment by pollarding the trees, so it can be available as feed in a drought. Because as soon as the rain arrives, I want those kangaroos coming in to control my annual weeds again. The perennial weeds are what are getting them through this protracted dry spell.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your interesting response, Chris. I think in order to be prepared for the future we will have to rethink our previously held concept of 'weeds'. They will need clever management but they can also be useful tools. Interesting about the Leucaena!

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