Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Death deniers make some naturalists unrealistic about Habitat protection

The obligation to cull ( esp koalas and kangaroos)  has come as a bit of shock to many idealists in the conservation movement who have ignored  some fairly basic realities about natural boundaries in nature.Time for the realistic and full picture to drive conservation - the only way we can come closer to sustainability .  Time many  stopped trying to second guess processes of ecological change that requires sound long term study and acceptance of decay and death.
The key matters of denial by those who have insisted we preserve nature in time (The Greens )include these serious matters[

  1. The natural limits of any habitat   ( soil and climatic often but predictable IF properly studied )
  2. The extreme pressure on large populations of native flora and fauna during the long dry period naturally . While the human cull of kangaroos can be 2 million each year, the natural cull in a dry period can easily be 5 million.  
  3. The need for components to die to allow for succession. 
  4. The need for mature components to be removed to allow space for the new 
  5. The place of decomposition in the lifecycle of all ecosystems ( the rotten business) and the place and time required for it 
  6. The severe limitations that Australia's natural environment puts on gene survival and diversity of species . ( see my example in a later post )  
  7. The need/ value naturalness of predation. 

Without such well studied realism and acceptance of the difficult parts , no real balance can happen . Whether we continue to accept it or not,  our task is to toil with the soil and subdue some of the multiplying and filling-- insisting on boundary recognition and establishment ( establishment is assisted by knowledge of seed and soil needs on site)  . If we don't care to assist, one species or process will dominate preventing the cooperation required to build diversity and avoid dominance and degradation of a more sensitive species process or soil.
None of us like to be told we occupy too much space or resources but the result of rareness shyness and shortness of lifecycle and food supply periods has been to overstate the territorial rights of many rarely seen species. We rarely see predatory birds in Otways now that ground cover is commonly higher than it was 100 years ago on grassland , Ambit claims are far too common.

The question DEPI  and all Aussies must face is whether its planning for all species or  just allowing itself to be concerned only about ecosystem components that are both rarely seen and even more rarely understood BUT ALSO the need to plan for whole chunks of time when death , establishment and youth must be given time and space they don't have at the moment . We cannot call ourselves balanced ecologists if we don't allow death and plan for new growth and succession  (young  immature forest appears  very important for koalas ,as it is for the prosperity of many animals ).

 Its not sound to just concentrate , as the blinkered Greens  have  for decades,  on the phases of maturity and old age .

Its misanthropic nonsense to say humans should not get involved in decisions like the one illustrated below and yet there is a philosophy of life around that says if  you just leave things alone everything will be alright and even get better . The testimony of history is that this is simply not true . The 8 species of kangaroos outnumber our cattle by a factor of about 2 . We can live in the hanging gardens of Melbourne with the Fresh food people and pretend predation doesn't occur in our nice view of nature .  Life without it is just another overly  simple pleasant sounding dream promoted by political partisans.

How much space would you allocate to each of the species in the picture   The idea of fences  is necessary even if ,  I think we would agree, largely as  a way of saying some specific risks and realistic food resource boundaries for each species in any ecosystem are needed . They have to be accepted or put in place by us as custodians of the whole ecosystems under threat.

We are planning not for one but for everyone . It is highly hypocritical to say we can do it one for one species and not for the others  ( Ecology is about a community of interrelated and interdependent parts )  unless of course the seeding mechanism for one elements survival is at risk - even then the outside connections must be studied . The seeding, soil and growth stages of that item , rather the mature phase is therefore the proper but neglected focus of habitat protection .

The soil habitat fences  are a little more complex than ones suggested on the sketch. While gene selection helps protect the future of species it doesn't stop extinction and does not guarantee progress . Some inorganic processes are ones we can influence positively ( presence of surface water , fire etc)
Yes we should worry about habitat protection so that more species are not lost .The solutions will be a lot more manageable  if we don't see them just as raw space considerations but really understand the many dimensions of soil seed time weather and chance in which they operate.

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Friday, March 06, 2015

There has gotta be a better way --- there is !

The circumstances of the koala cull ( 680 )on the bottom edge of Australia this week are very distressing ( Colac Herald ), just like they are when we have to shoot drought cattle and injured or suffering animal friends; very hard .

To really care you have to make hard choices . Some who claim to care for natural processes either don't know that or ignore the challenge. They do nothing ; they advocate doing nothing and in the case of our Councils and State departments they insist they doing nothing --- till someone or something dies  .
For many of us who have studied and dealt with death and regeneration daily, this situation is a call for our community to look beyond and insist our paid public servants keep the big picture in mind ;

If we want to avoid such dramatic last minute efforts and the crisis that preceeds it , we will at times have  to plan to provide proper habitat and growth places ; we have to live and support the bigger picture . To leave things till they get this bad is not a choice , but avoiding a choice .To truly live and care we have to be simply realistic about living with nature and the acceptance of death and renewal .
In these unpleasant times and difficult choices  , we can support those who go front line and be pleased that the suffering of these particular animals will then be over .
 The veteran park ranger of over 20 years who knows and cares for the sand island Turtles best (in The ABC series on the Great Barrier reef this week ) knows only too well that  he cannot turn many of the big numbers of dying turtles over, when that short time comes around.
What we can do is make sure that our animals and the wild animals have enough room and young regenerating forest around them- as was case years ago. Thats a great big picture task that helps avoid this scenario . While some Greens are in simply in love with only old growth forests, this will not happen . More young people who study these things well and full lifecycle  should be given these complex but difficult jobs in providing more habitat instead of being offered spades by our own current environment minister . 

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