What can so-called “invasive species” teach us about the health and vitality of our ecosystems?
Is it possible that these oft-maligned invaders are actually serving functional roles on the land? And if we determine that they need to be managed, how exactly should we go about it?
When you read Beyond the War on Invasive Species by Tao Orion, today’s guest on episode 44 of the Good Life Revival Podcast, you’ll discover that the conventional “restoration” narrative is pretty cut-and-dry: invasive species are a Problem that require complete and total eradication, primarily through the use of chemical herbicides such as glyphosate, 2,4-D and imazapyr.
How effective is this management plan? Not very. What sorts of consequences does it have for the health of the land, and all those who inhabit it? We do not know, but like many other myopic decisions that we humans are making in this era, it's safe to assume that the full effects may not even fully manifest for decades, or centuries, or millennia to come.
By contrast, Tao, along with a growing number of skeptical ecologists and naturalists (myself included), would argue that the proliferation of non-native species is merely one symptom of a problem that runs much deeper than plant populations in flux, down to the core of our civilization and how we organize our lives.
“We need to be willing to take responsibility for the ecological changes that our lifestyle brings.”
When we allow ourselves to ask “why?” all the way down to the root of the problem, we are forced to confront the uncomfortable truth that our very way of life in the modern era is the reason for undesirable species thriving where robust and resilient native communities once flourished.
“I honestly think people feel guilty about the ways that land is being managed. There’s a deep sense of unease about the way our society has come into being — about our colonialist history.”
Tune in to hear Tao and I discuss the complex nature of invasive species and the field of restoration ecology; what invasive species can tell us when we read the landscapes around us; and how we can promote ecological literacy in a culture that only seems capable of investing in short-term treatments to minor symptoms of systemic problems.
I have chosen Beyond the War on Invasive Species as my pick for the book club in the month of July. Order a copy directly from Tao and she will even sign it before sending it off. Support good people doing good work!
Today’s episode also features several new pieces of music by yours truly. Stick around to the end where I share a new song of mine — 8 years in the making! — called “No Inside, No Out.”
Want to hear all of the original music from the podcast, in full? That’s just one of the perks for pledging your support for the Good Life Revival at any level on Patreon, the crowdfunding platform that makes it possible for me to do this work.
You can also gain early access to interviews like this one with Tao, which was published on Patreon a full week ahead of its release on the main feed.
To learn more and pledge your support today, visit patreon.com/goodliferevival.
Related Links and Further Resources:
Resilience Permaculture - Tao Orion's website and design firm