Assisting Nature

As a volunteer at a local nature preserve, I generally participate in songbird or waterfowl counts; on occasion, I have assisted with garden maintenance, trail work or habitat restoration.  Yesterday, I agreed to take part in the collection of wildflower seeds that will be used in improve floral diversity in other areas of the preserve.

While I have no major objection to such projects, I am inclined to let nature control and mold her ecosystems.  As self-appointed stewards of the natural environment, we should focus on protecting wild areas, eliminating pollution and minimizing the impact of human "development" and activity.  The more we interfere with natural ecosystems the more we are likely to upset their balance and threaten their welfare.

Even the reintroduction of native plants and animals can have an adverse impact unless all other components of that ecosystem are in place and adequately represented.  For example, the release of native prey species (e.g. elk, moose) without reintroducing their natural predators (e.g. wolves) can lead to the destruction of habitat (due to overgrazing, tree damage, etc.).  The less we play this management game the better; in the end, if we protect natural ecosystems and otherwise leave them alone, the native inhabitants (plant and animal) will return.