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Saturday, June 26, 2010

What is this all about?

Perhaps for many people the Urban landscape is a place of sealed roads, fences, big dogs and green green lawns, a sprawling sea of roofs stretching out where some kind of nature would once have lived.
It is all those things of course, But it is also much more. It just requires a refocus in perception in order to see the forest that remains between the bricks and mortar.

Wherever humans settle we bring changes.
We eliminate some species, while allowing or encouraging others, We greatly modify the hydrology, altering water catchment and infiltration, and we greatly modify the chemistry of Air, soil and water. In short, we change all the key parameters for an ecosystem.

Out amongst the biological deserts of new housing estates, lie older more evolved areas where natural processes have reclaimed space. A walk through any suburb or city will find weeds pushing through pavement, maybe even strangler figs gaining a foothold in some crumbling masonry.

Within these new wild spaces as well as garden space, we are witnessing the birth of novel ecosystems where local and exotic biodiversity are mixing to create hybrid and novel ecologies. These new ecologies are rich in species and extremely interesting as well as functional for human needs.
Understanding these spaces is a necessity as Humanity is set on a course of increasing urbanization that only shows signs of intensification for the forseeable future. More and more land will be converted to suburb as the population increases over the next 40 or so years to 10 billion.

Much of our most useful biodiversity is not in the bush, not on farms, and not in government sponsored seed banks, but actually in our backyards and suburbs peppered through our cities. As it is, these refugia are neither safe nor fully utilized mainly due to a lack of knowledge about its true potential.

This blog is dedicated to opening peoples eyes to the true value of garden biodiversity to enhance the livability of our villages, towns and cities, and in the products and ecosystem services that it provides. By seeking to understand different elements we can understand our own cultures and history, and those of others.

We reside in Australias tropical north, and area with an immense natural biodiversity. ‘Out there’ on the reef, orin some protected piece of forest. This perception perhaps overshadows what lies closer to home and its real value in helping us find a harmonious place in the bigger system.

I hope it may lead to a new understanding and appreciation of the key role that Urban and domestic conservation and integration efforts can have in keeping what we have left of the earths treasures alive through the turbulent century ahead of us.

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