We live in what geologists are now calling the new Anthropocene, an epoch in which the planet is shaped primarily by humans. We need to get used to it. But we shouldn’t be depressed. For while one lesson of the Anthropocene is that nothing is pristine, another is that nature is resilient and resourceful. And while many endangered species are vulnerable to our activities, others like us. Humankind is not always bad news for nature. Some forests died, but others grew up to replace them. By breeding some species as crops and livestock, we increased the genetic diversity. And by moving species around the world ( as humans have been doing for thousands of years ) we have dramatically increased local biodiversity on a local level and which may have sometimes triggered a burst of evolution.
We have assaulted forests on a huge scale, yet where we have walked away, they have generally revived. This is especially true in the tropics, the area of our greatest current environmental concern. ” So called virgin forests have in fact undergone substantial prehistoric modification” says Kathy Willis. ” tropical forest eco systems are not as fragile as often potrayed, are in fact quite resilient. Left for long enough, forests will almost certainely regenerate”. There is, she says, no reason why that should not remain the case in the 21st century. The new forests won’t be pristine. But then, they never were.
From Myths of the Pristine. THE NEW WILD Fred Pearce.
In our present regeneration working site, as we unpeel the layers of lantana, tiny emerging rain forest are visible where a little light has been able to get through. In the site where we slashed, layered and pulled lantana last year, already a mass of scotch thistle, farmers friends and Giant devils claw ( remove the root of this one ) have flowered, and seeded, in the case of the thistle. I remove what ever maybe too close to an emerging rain forest tree and leave the rest for ground cover. Next year, when the red, white and pencil cedars plus 10 more varieties of rain forest tree, have establish canopy ( yes, growth is incredibly fast ) another layer of introduced plants will colonize where the thistles ect grew. Within 5 years canopy shade will block out most introduced plants. Just as lantana filled the niche overgrazing and tree removal provided, now the thistle ect are the next plant stage which is nourishing and protecting our remaining soil.
And Denmark’s new tax.