Some years ago we set up a few Google alerts on the topics we cover on Million Trees so that we would be informed of new developments. One of those Google alerts was “invasive species.” We receive a daily barrage of articles about the international crusade against non-native plants. Once in a great while we are also treated to a small voice of reason in this otherwise unreasonable crusade.
Here is a letter to the editor of the Nanaimo News Bulletin in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada written by someone responding to a local attempt to eradicate non-native plants, AKA “invasive species.” We could have written this letter ourselves. It represents our viewpoint perfectly.
Published: April 23, 2013 7:00 AM
“To the Editor,
Re: City leading attack on invasive plants, April 18.
Once they were weeds, and we got rid them when they were in our way.
Now they’re “invasive species”, and we’re urged to get rid of them even when they’re not in the way.
Why? Because they’re “alien.”
This, of course, is nonsense.
Nature doesn’t recognize man-made boundaries or discriminate between “native” and “alien” plants. Apart from a few well-known examples, most people don’t know the difference either. Most of the plants in our gardens are “alien.”
One of the favourite targets is Scotch broom. It’s claimed that broom crowds out native species, though we’re never told what they are. No wonder, since broom thrives on ground disturbed by human activity such as roadways and abandoned fields.
Far from being a nuisance, it’s a nitrogen-fixing plant that enriches the soil. One of the many myths spread about broom is that its pollen is an allergen.
Not so. A University of B.C. study has shown that its pollen grains are too large to cause an allergic reaction.
Now the City of Nanaimo wants to get rid of the blackberries that we look forward to in August and September. It’s the wrong kind of blackberry, apparently.
It has decided to designate May as “Invasive Plant Awareness Month” and is encouraging residents to remove the aliens from wherever they are.
Goodness knows what the city will look like after the eco-warriors have gone on the rampage with their brushhooks.
We do not live in an unchanging Garden of Eden. Nature is dynamic. Birds carry seeds over hundreds of miles and new plants grow where they didn’t grow before.
Human attempts to halt natural growth and development are arrogant and doomed to failure. By all means get rid of weeds on your property or on public land where they’re a nuisance.
Otherwise, let nature take its course, and don’t feel you’re somehow saving the planet by hacking away at a plant just because it’s on an “alien” hit list.
If you share this viewpoint without expressing it when confronted with the relentless public relations campaign in support of destructive “restoration” projects, we urge you to speak up. There are many of us who object to these destructive projects, but few are expressing their concern about the loss of ecologically valuable plants and trees.
Many thanks to Mr. Roscow for his eloquent defense of defenseless plants in Nanaimo, British Columbia.