Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I always knew Indonesia was a treasure trove of interesting plants. Its one of those biological hotspots on the planet where colliding tectonic plates match with colliding floral and faunal assemblies from different lineages. Asia and Australasia meeting across an archipelago of so many islands that nobody can agree how many there are!
Add to that the history of peoples and their cultures that have moved through this space over the millenia, discovering and rediscovering it. The Ancestors of The Tasmanians, the Aboriginals, the Papuans, The Hobbits of flores, the proto-malay who became the Batak tribespeople, and todays Malay groups that dominate the western islands. Everyone has had a turn on their way out of africa. My perspective on going there is not a case of seeking wildness but quite the opposite, im seeking knowledge from a landscape that has been crafted by humans for millenia and bears our muddy footprints all over it, if humans can be part of nature then this is a key place to look for it.
It is a biologically rich zone. Without it we wouldn't have products we know well like Sugar, Nutmeg, Clove, Sandalwood. And we have a lot more to discover yet, add up the spices you know, and now imagine theres more than double that you don't even know about. Well if you are a spice lover you will appreciate that!
Most people know about the origins of agriculture as the english speaking world knows it. It started independently in several locations. The fertile crescent of the middle east, India,The fertile floodplains of china, Mexico,the Andes and northern Argentina. They domesticated plants and animals that were mostly annual species, living and dying in a single season and giving us grains, pulses and a small number of domesticated animals we could raise on crop residues.
But there are other zones that gave us a different kind of agriculture, based on tree crops and perennial plants that have shaped human history just as much, and hold the key to development in future. Papua gave us sugar cane, the indonesian archipelago gave us many spices
Four areas hold a great interest to me, Central america, the Amazon, Afghanistan/Persia and Indonesia. These places are very rich in fruits, nuts and medicinal plants. Africa too but that continent remaisn the dark continent with much of its wealth still unrecognized.
Why do i love plants so much? Im sure i'm the eccentric to my friends. Well my view is that nothing in this world is so deserving of mastery than to know your habitat. each plant (and animal) species we cohabit with is living ut its own life and agenda concurrent with us. Plants create everything we truly need. we are biological entities first and foremost
its like asking a painter why they love paint. Paint is colour, it gives the ability to blend and create, to express, to sustain. Colour is the power that allows a painter to have a voice